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Thai banks unable to investigate Myanmar weapons payments

Major Thai banks defended themselves on Thursday against criticism that they facilitated weapons purchases by the Myanmar military, stating they lacked the capacity to investigate all transactions that may be used for such purchases.

Representatives of the lenders told a Thai parliamentary committee, however, that they strictly followed regulations.

A U.N. expert’s report last month said that companies registered in Thailand utilised Thai banks to transfer weapons and related materials worth $120 million USD in the 2023 fiscal year to Myanmar, compared with $60 million USD in 2022.

Thailand’s parliamentary committee on national security called in representatives of five banks after the report by the U.N. special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar, Tom Andrews, highlighted the role of Thai entities.

The five Thai commercial banks named in the U.N. report, Krung Thai, SCBX, Bangkok Bank, TMB Thanchart Bank and Kasikorn Bank did not respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

The parliamentary committee’s chairperson, Rangsiman Rome, said the bankers association, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) and the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) had been instructed to report back within 30 days with recommendations for further action.

REUTERS

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