The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) has prodded the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), particularly Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar, to be more involved in curbing money laundering and wildlife trafficking.
Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar are not members of APEC, which is composed of 21 countries and territories in the region, including the Philippines, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Thailand, the United States, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Chile, Peru, Russia and Vietnam.
Dr. Robert Wang, US senior official for APEC, on Tuesday said Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar would benefit “a lot” if they took a more active role in combating money laundering even if they are not members of the Asia-Pacific forum.
“The key goal is to get three other non-APEC members of Asean more directly involved. In that sense, I think APEC is contributing to Asean in that work,” Wang told a roundtable with select members of the press.
During the 13th Asean Senior Officials Meeting on Transnational Crime and related meetings last year, Vietnam’s Deputy Minister of Public Security Le Quy Vuong warned of emerging threats of money laundering and cyber crime in the Asean nations.
He said Asean must work together to combat these problems, which he said is a “challenge” faced by every Asean country.
Although money laundering is still a new crime in Vietnam, the country reported that there were 650 suspicious bank transactions detected last year. Of these, 22 were investigated.
There is a strong support within the Asean to address money laundering, transnational crimes, narcotics, human trafficking and illegal timber extraction.
Myanmar approved its version of the Anti-Money Laundering Law in March this year.
Founded in 1989, APEC enjoins 21 countries and territories to seek and promote free trade and economic integration throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
The Philippines will be hosting the APEC Summit in 2015.
Another problem prevalent in most Asian countries is wildlife trafficking, which threatens biodiversity as more species are being driven closer to extinction.