Thailand says to be taken off money-laundering blacklist

BANGKOK, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Thailand, Southeast Asia's second-largest economy, should soon be taken off a list of countries that do not meet international standards in the fight against money-laundering, a Thai official said on Wednesday.

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international money-laundering watchdog, put Thailand on the list in February 2012 along with Pakistan, Indonesia, Ghana and Tanzania, after it failed to implement recommendations aimed at combating money-laundering and the financing of militant groups.

"An FATF meeting in Paris has agreed that Thailand has done much to rectify its shortcomings in terms of anti money-laundering laws and financial terrorism and now complies with international standards," said Sihanat Prayunrat, secretary-general of Thailand's Anti-Money-Laundering Office.

The FATF will send a team to review Thailand's laws and regulations in May and, if it is satisfied, Thailand would then be removed from the blacklist, Sihanat said.

Thai authorities had insisted that Thailand had adequate legislation but eventually amended laws to ensure that procedures and wording conformed to FATF guidelines.

The watchdog has no power to impose sanctions.

Task force officials were not immediately available for comment but the organisation praised Thai progress in a statement dated Feb. 22.

"Thailand has made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF ... including by enacting legislation to adequately criminalise terrorist financing, establishing and implementing adequate procedures to identify and freeze terrorist assets," the FATF said.

Countries that fail to implement its recommendations run the risk of being labelled high-risk or uncooperative, making it difficult for their banks to do business with banks in other FATF member countries including the United States and Britain.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Editing by Alan Raybould)