Verification process for new bank accounts to be tighter

BANGKOK (The Nation/ANN) - The Anti-Money Laundering Office to hold discussions with banks in bid to prevent fraud from stolen id cards; move follows recent case of cheating.

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) will work with banks and other financial institutions to improve verification procedures for customers applying for new bank accounts.
The agency plans to hold a meeting with representatives of 36 banks and financial institutions today to prevent fraud resulting from criminals using stolen ID cards to open bank accounts.
Currently, institutions could be liable to a hefty fine of up to Bt1 million per wrongful account.
 The problem was highlighted when Nicha Kiatthanapaibul, 24, filed a complaint with police after her stolen ID card was used by a criminal network to open multiple accounts to cheat innocent people.
Pol Maj-General Romsit Viriyasan, deputy chief of AMLO, said the agency will discuss preventive measures with banks to avoid unauthorised use of ID cards in opening bank accounts. Nicha claimed her ID card was stolen but she was still jailed for three days while her case was clarified.
Police are examining video footage from banks’ security cameras to show that Nicha did not go to seven bank branches to open accounts that were used by a bogus call centre to lure victims to transfer money into the accounts.
Police earlier said Nicha was put in jail because she failed to show up after being summoned to be investigated in this case. She later filed the complaint with police that she was innocent and provided video footage showing another woman had entered a bank branch to open one of the accounts using Nicha’s stolen ID card.
The deputy AMLO chief said all financial institutions are required by law to properly verify identities by using their ID cards and other personal data.
If banks fail to do the task properly, they are liable to a Bt1-million fine per wrongful account plus an additional daily fine of up Bt10,000 until the mistake is corrected.
Vichien Chidchanoknart, a director of Department of Provincial Administration, the Interior Ministry, said citizens need to keep their ID cards safe and should quickly report and apply for new ones if the card is stolen or lost. The previous ID card will be automatically nullified once reported.
Banks and other establishments must verify the the photo on the ID card matches the user and check if the chip-embedded card is genuine. They must also check with the department's computer system to ensure that the card is still valid.
He said people can also report to police that their ID card has been stolen but it is advisable to get new ID cards from district offices which will then automatically nullify the lost or stolen ones.
Pol General Veerachai Songmedtha, the deputy national police chief, said investigators are pursuing two cases. The first involves an embezzlement case where victims were cheated by the illegal call centre using stolen ID cards to open bank accounts. The second involves the use of other people’s ID cards to open unauthorised bank accounts.

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