By Francesco Guarascio
HANOI (Reuters) - Vietnam was added to the watch list of the FATF international financial crime watchdog, which said the nation has nonetheless committed to proving it effectively prevents the financing of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Friday's decision adds the southeast Asian nation to the "grey list" of two dozens countries across the world subject to closer scrutiny, including Panama, the Cayman Islands, the United Arab Emirates and Syria. Myanmar, Iran and North Korea are the only countries on the group's "black list".
Vietnam is one of the few states with good relations with North Korea, which is actively pursuing a nuclear weapons programme despite widespread global denunciations and international sanctions.
Hanoi enacted rules in March to fight money laundering and terrorism financing, but the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) did not consider the overhaul sufficient to avoid the greylisting.
The FATF said Vietnam has now committed to demonstrating it effectively monitors banks, accountants and lawyers to prevent funding for the proliferation of arms of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.
Vietnam has also agreed to prove it can prevent the evasion of sanctions against individuals or entities that face international restrictions because of their involvement with proliferation of mass destruction weapons.
In addition to Vietnam, 10 African countries, including Mozambique and Uganda, are under FATF scrutiny for risks of proliferation funding, according to the public list on the body's website.
Vietnam's Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.
Vietnam has also committed to implementing additional reforms to address its shortcomings. It will work to ensure the independence of authorities responsible for investigating financial crime, regulate virtual assets and boost international cooperation against money laundering, the FATF said.
The FATF does not recommend enhanced controls on greylisted jurisdictions, but effectively that is what happens when a country is added to the list, as foreign financial institutions tend to monitor more closely their dealings with them, which can result in hurdles to financial flows.
At a summit with South Korea on Friday, Vietnam said it would participate in the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by William Mallard)