NACC set to tighten asset scrutiny rules

The National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC) will force financial institutions to submit information on all major monetary transactions made by political office-holders and government officials under a planned regulation.

NACC chairman Parnthep Klanarongran discussed the move at a meeting on Tuesday between the NACC, executives of financial institutions and representatives of the Land Department and the Transport Ministry.

The regulation is expected to be in force within three months.

Mr Parnthep said financial institutions will be required to give the NACC information on all cash transactions of more than 500,000 baht and property transactions worth more than 1 million baht which involve anyone obligated by law to declare their assets and liabilities.

Those required to declare their assets include political office-holders and government officials at both the national and local levels.

Mr Parnthep said financial institutions are currently required to report information on financial transactions involving at least 2 million baht only to the Anti-Money Laundering Office (Amlo).

He said the regulation would help boost efficiency in curbing corruption and would increase the scrutiny of assets belonging to senior government officials.

Central bank governor Prasarn Trairatvorakul said laws must be examined to see if the tighter regulation will affect the privacy of account owners.

He said disclosure of account information requires specific laws to support it, though technically speaking, this does not pose a problem as computer systems are available to handle the transfer of account data.

The political implication is the measure might deter some people from wanting to assume public office, he added. Those already in office would come under increasing pressure to be transparent.

Mr Parnthep admitted the measure would place an additional burden on financial institutions, as they will be required to submit assets reports to both Amlo and the NACC.

One possible solution is the NACC may ask Amlo whether it can share assets information online to the NACC, Mr Parnthep said, adding that financial institutions had expressed a willingness to cooperate with the anti-graft agency.

NACC deputy secretary-general Worawit Sukboon said on Thursday that financial institutions were still concerned the proposed minimum amounts of 500,000 and 1 million baht were too low and should be raised.

Mr Worawit said the NACC is ready to listen to suggestions and make necessary changes to avoid creating too much of a burden on financial institutions, although the priority would be placed on ensuring maximum benefit for the country.

He said the NACC believed the proposed minimum amount of 500,000 baht in cash was appropriate given that political office-holders and government officials receive a maximum salary of about 100,000 baht per month.

But the NACC agreed the proposed 1-million-baht minimum amount for real estate transactions could be raised, Mr Worawit said.

He said the NACC will meet financial institutions soon to discuss the matter again.

Democrat Party secretary-general Juti Krairiksh said the party was not worried about the NACC regulation

He supported the measure to include high-ranking officials as well as political office-holders.

Mr Juti said the regulation means the workloads of the NACC and Amlo will increase, with paperwork involving financial transactions expected to surge by as much as 50 times.

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