Three Chinese nationals were caught with bags full of $100 notes totaling $3.5 million, at the Phnom Penh airport last week. On Sunday, the suspects were charged with money laundering; however, the suspects have claimed that the amount is casino winnings from Macau.
After the police detained the suspects who arrived at the Phnom Penh International Airport, they were produced to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court. On Sunday, after the proceedings, Ly Sophana, the official spokesperson of the municipal court said that Wang Shiping, Wang Lichao and Zhang Jian have been charged with the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism Act.
In his statement to the press Sophana said, “After looking into the case and questioning the suspects, the prosecutor ruled to hold a hearing on charges of money laundering. Their cases will be forwarded to the investigating judge to proceed with the procedures.”
Cambodia’s Law on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism defines an act of money laundering as “the conversion or transfer of property, knowing that such property is the proceeds of offense, for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the property or of helping any person who is involved in the commission of the offense to evade the legal consequences of his or her action.”
Sharing further details, the national police confirmed that the suspects have claimed to have won most of the money from gambling in Macau. According to the police the suspects were planning to invest the funds in Phnom Penh real estate markets.
Earlier the police had arrested the suspects as they failed to provide details of how they had procured such a huge amount and why they were carrying cash to Cambodia.
The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration has issued a similar report that reads: “Based on the interrogation and review of documents of the three suspects, the General Department concluded that the two suspects indeed had smuggled more than $3.5 million in cash into Cambodia without clear sources.”
The authorities have also confirmed that it is an unprecedented incident in the country and that such massive amount of cash was never confiscated before.