Thai AML Office To Create Own Crypto Wallet To Hold Seized Proceeds Of Crime

Crime, News | September 4, 2018 By:

Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is planning to create its own digital wallet to investigate crypto-related crimes.

Speaking at a Bangkok seminar last week, AMLO secretary Witthaya Neetitham said that they have discussed launching their own ‘AMLO Wallet’ to hold or confiscate digital currency from illegal sources.

At present, Thailand lacks laws directing agencies on how to deal with alleged crypto criminal proceeds and their storage. This means, authorities can only jail or extradite those who were convicted of cybercrime or confiscate their physical assets, but they cannot touch their digital assets.

“AMLO does have measures to combat crimes involving digital currencies licensed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, but it was still difficult to handle cryptocurrency operators who are outside the system,” Neetitham said. “We cannot identify the cryptocurrency operator or receivers when duped victims transfer money to the criminals.”

Chartpong Chirabandhu, deputy director general of the Department of Special Litigation, Office of the Attorney General, said that prosecutors were limited in their ability to use electronic evidence in building a case against cybercriminals.

“A big problem with digital assets and other such evidence is the difficulty in discovering the identity of those transacting,” said Chirabandhu. “When we present the evidence to court, it often fails to convince the judges.”

AMlO’s announcement came after Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) executive director Kittipong Kittayarak said the country was sorely lacking the personnel and the tools required to combat crimes involving cryptocurrencies. He said that a collaborative study carried out by the TIJ and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute shows that nefarious activities involving transnational organized crime are rising in Thailand.

“Cryptocurrencies have also been used to pay kidnap ransoms, and buy child pornography, illicit drugs, malware and firearms on the dark web, whose popularity is rising among criminal gangs,” said Kittipong. “Currently, there are not many criminal cases involving cryptocurrencies, but such crimes are expected to rise quickly in the near future.”