Transactions in strife-torn region total Bt50 billion a year: AMLO
There have been some suspiciously high monetary transactions in the deep South – averaging at Bt50 billion a year – over the past three years even though the insurgency-related violence has been affecting people’s livelihoods and trade.
The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) revealed yesterday that financial transactions in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat and Songkhla’s four insurgency-hit districts were equivalent to those in provinces with booming trade.
The authorities suspect that many of these transactions stem from perpetrators staging terrorist attacks to get funds from terrorist organisations. AMLO plans to tackle this problem with anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism laws.
AMLO secretary-general Seehanat Prayoonrat said the restive region’s financial status was quite strong with monetary transactions totalling Bt50 billion a year between 2010 and 2012, even though frequent terrorist attacks have affected trade.
Financial transactions in Yala have surpassed those in border provinces with booming trade, such as Sa Kaew, Mukdahan and Prachin Buri, he said. Transactions in Pattani surpassed those in the northern industrial hub of Lamphun, while Narathiwat’s surpassed fishery hubs Ranong and Samut Songkhram, he added.
AMLO found that up to 79 per cent of the transactions in the southern border provinces were cash deposits/withdrawals of up to Bt2 million, while the remaining 21 per cent came from property trade, Seehanat said. He added that financial transactions in the South rose by about 64 per cent per year.
With finances rising despite the violence, AMLO is now wondering about the true reason behind the insurgency – whether the attacks are actually being carried out by people wanting to separate from Thailand or by people wishing to protect illegal businesses, such as drug trade, he said. Hence, he added, the agency will produce a risk-assessment report to determine how much money was being sent in to finance terrorism.
Seehanat said each attack needed money and manpower, so the perpetrators must be getting funds from somewhere. “From a financial viewpoint, each attack has a financial value, and the perpetrators are doing business by staging terrorist attacks.
They get a “salary” from terrorist organisations. Thus, we have to use the anti-money laundering law to cut off these feeding tubes, so that every time a teacher is shot dead, the perpetrators cannot withdraw money from an ATM as payment.
Their bank accounts and assets will be seized, thus forcing them to stop killing people and surrender according to Article 21 of the Internal Security Act (ISA). “If they stop killing, stop terrorist activities, we will take their names out of the blacklist, but if they relapse, we will blacklist them again, until they completely stop their terrorist activities,” he said.
Amlo has also been working out how much each attack is worth – such as shooting a teacher, launching a raid on a military base, killing a high-profile person or a bombing attack – by comparing the cost of ammunition, guns, bombs, cars, motorcycles and the perpetrators’ “salary”, Seehanat said.
The agency believes that there is also a reward system for high-profile targets versus normal targets, he said, adding that putting a monetary value on the 4,000 deaths and 8,727 injuries, we can see the overall money spent on this “terrorism business”.
Annual value of money transactions in the restive deep South in comparison to at-peace provinces:
1. Yala, ranked 45th among 77 provinces with Bt30,535,222,897, is in the same group as:
- Prachin Buri, a Cambodian-Thai border province with high international trade volume, ranked 44th with Bt31,399,383,148;
- Mukdahan, a mekong River border province with the Northeast’s highest international trade volume, ranked 46th with Bt30,499,676,480;
2. Pattani is ranked 58th with Bt17,658,256,723, beating Lamphun (a northern hub for industrial estates), at 59th with Bt17,268,120,997.
3. Songkhla’s four districts, ranked 60th with Bt15,095,673,402, and Narathiwat, 65th with Bt13,207,982,365, are in the same group as:
- Nong Bua Lamphu (61st with Bt14,019,750,380)
- Nakhon Phanom (62nd with Bt13,916,776,139)
- Sing Buri (63rd with Bt13,873,307,397)
- Yasothon (64th with Bt13,348,113,341)
CREDIT – Source News & Photo http://www.nationmultimedia.com
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