Real estate agents roped in to help tackle money laundering in Myanmar

Real estate agents will undergo training to help them spot attempts at money laundering after an intergovernmental financial task force cited Myanmar for failing to address the crime.

U Tin Maung, chair of the Myanmar Real Property Development Association, said the training on financial laws relating to property transactions will focus on money laundering.

“The most important thing is to remove a barrier that hinders the country’s economic growth,” he said. “Real estate agents need to know the laws related to money laundering.”

Training of property brokers has usually focused on farmland, taxation and construction, but the government recently urged the sector to help cooperate in addressing the problem of money laundering.

Money laundering is an attempt to conceal the origins of illegally obtained money, typically by means of foreign bank transfers or funding legitimate businesses.

U Wunna Soe, director of Phoe Lamin real estate agency, said the training aims to help brokers and property agents recognise when the source of money for a transaction is illegal. “Our anti-money laundering law specifies that property brokers must be knowledgeable of its provisions.”

He said that training for real estate brokers will be conducted in Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon.

On Friday, the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed Myanmar on its “gray list” because the country’s effort to stop money laundering had been unsuccessful.

Being on the gray list means that Myanmar’s financial activities would be monitored more stringently. It might also affect access to loans from foreign institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

Myanmar is the centre of opium and synthetic drug production in Asia, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a recent report that the illegal trade generated billions of dollars annually.

The FATF noted the progress made by Myanmar in introducing legislation to curb money-laundering and new regulations for its cash-based remittance system.

Illegal jade mining and logging are also major problems in the country.

The UNODC said that while opium poppy cultivation had steadily declined in the country, the production of synthetic drugs, such as methamphetamine, had soared.

Source : Myanmar Time

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