11 July 2024

The Thai Bankers Association (TBA), reiterated today that the association and its members conduct business with full accountability to their customers, society and the global community in accordance with human rights principles.

The TBA and the members also adhere to the law and regulations, under the supervision of the Bank of Thailand and the Anti-Money Laundering Office, according to the TBA’s statement.

The statement was issued in response to a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar, which accuses Thai banks of being key players in the supply of funding for arms for the Myanmar military over the past year.

The statement insisted that each member bank has its own compliance unit, specialising in local and international regulations and banking business practices, as well as database of individuals, organisations and countries considered to be “high risk” or black listed, with which banks are forbidden to do business.

Thai commercial banks have a clear policy of not supporting arms procurement by the Myanmar military regime, and of not allowing banking transactions for procurement of arms to be used in violation of human rights, said the statement.

According to UN Rapporteur Tom Andrews, Thai banks were involved in the money chain for US$120 million worth of weapons and related materials exported to Myanmar in the 2023-24 fiscal year, sustaining the junta’s campaign of violence and brutality against the people of Myanmar.

Meanwhile, exports of military weapons and supplies via Singapore dropped dramatically, from over US$110 million to just over US$10 million over the past year, while military supplies from Russia and China also declined, said the report.

Thailand partially filled the gap.

Companies registered in Thailand transferred weapons and related materials worth US$120 million in 2023 fiscal year, compared with US$60 million the year before, according to the report.

“Thai banks have played a crucial role in this shift. The Siam Commercial bank, for example, facilitated just over US$50 million in transactions related to Myanmar’s military in the year ending March 2023, but that number skyrocketed to over US$100 million in the following year,” said the report.