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Assembly Passes Bill to Stem Money Laundering

The National Assembly passed a bill Monday that would put money launderers in jail for up to one-year, in a move supporters say will improve Cambodia's investment climate.

Under the new law, which passed with the support of 77 of 123 National Assembly members, convicted money launderers could also meet with fines up to 5 million riel (about $1,250).

Employees of dirty institutions would not be prosecuted but would be encouraged to report suspicious financial activity.

Cheam Yiep, chairman of the National Assembly's Committee on Finance and Banking, said the law would strengthen investment confidence.

Opposition lawmaker Keo Remy agreed the law was important but worried about enforcement in Cambodia's cash economy.

Cambodia National Bank President Chea Chanto promised that Cambodian authorities would enforce the law.

Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Tioulong Saumura said Saturday Cambodia's casinos and land were big draws for criminal money launderers.

"A big part of money laundering comes from the buying and selling of pieces of land," she said. "The criminals get $100 million, and they don't know how to move this money. So they take this money to buy a piece of land. That's why [Cambodian] land is very expensive."