FATF Releases Fourth Round Mutual Evaluation Report of China

Authors: Kyle Wombolt, Jeremy Birch, Karen Ip and Mark Chu

On 17 April 2019, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released its fourth round mutual evaluation report (Report) on the effectiveness of China’s measures on anti-money laundering (AML) and combating terrorist financing (CTF). The FATF is an intergovernmental organization which, in addition to developing AML and CTF policies, conducts periodic evaluations of member countries in order to evaluate the effectiveness of their AML and CTF policies.

What changes can institutions anticipate based upon the FATF’s recommendations?

Based on the FATF’s recommendations and recent developments within China, financial institutions and others falling within the AML Law’s ambit are likely to see increased regulatory scrutiny of their compliance with AML and CTF obligations. From a practical perspective, this is likely to result in an increased frequency of regulatory inspections, higher levels of enforcement activity and elevated penalties being sought.

What are the FATF’s findings in the Report?

Some key findings include the following:

  • The effectiveness of China’s financial intelligence unit (FIU) is hampered by the incomplete sharing of information, inconsistent reporting practices for suspicious transaction reports (STR), and a lack of information regarding beneficial ownership (BO).
  • The effectiveness of China’s Financial Institutions’ (FIs) preventative measures is limited by the market’s current level of understanding of ML/TF risks, a lack of implementation of requirements related to BO and ongoing due diligence, and gaps relating to the reporting of STRs.
  • Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions’ (DNFBPs) (such as lawyers, real estate agents, and dealers in precious metals) implementation of preventative measures to address ML and TF is very limited.

What are the FATF’s recommendations in the Report?

The FATF has made several recommendations in the Report, including the following:

First, the FATF recommends that the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) increase onsite inspections in the banking sector, ensure adequate supervision of the DNFBP sectors, and extend the Anti-Money Laundering Law (AML Law) to the online lending sector. With regards to supervision of the DNFBP sectors, the PBOC issued a notice in July 2018 (link in Chinese) that would apply the AML Law’s AML and CTF obligations to DNFBPs. In October 2018, China’s top financial regulators – the PBOC, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission and the China Securities Regulatory Commission – also issued joint guidelines (link in Chinese) to expand AML and CTF oversight to internet financial service providers, including those conducting online payment and lending services.

Second, the FATF recommends that China should review the effectiveness of its financial sanctions for AML and consider substantially increasing the size of penalties for violations of the AML Law. There are already indications that China is moving in this direction. In particular, supporters of a motion to amend to the AML Law (link in Chinese) have proposed expanding the scope of the crime of money laundering beyond the current seven categories of predicate crimes. The supporters of the motion have also proposed ensuring that obligations under the AML law reach DNFBPs such as real estate agents, precious metals exchanges and law firms. Finally, they have proposed increasing the monetary penalties available under the AML Law which are currently capped at 5 million yuan (or approximately US$742,170).

Third, the FATF recommends that guidance and training should be provided to FIs and DNFBPs to enhance their understanding of the concept of beneficial ownership. The Report highlighted that institutions sometimes had varying, incomplete understandings of the concept of beneficial ownership. The FATF also states that whilst China’s National Enterprise Credit Information Publicity System can serve as a starting point to obtain BO information, it does not indicate whether the registered legal owner or the shareholders is the BO.

AML/CFT compliance in Hong Kong: Recent record fine and reminder of latest guidance

Authors: William Hallatt, Hannah Cassidy, Natalie Curtis, Valerie Tao and Jennifer Fong.

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has recently reprimanded and fined Guosen Securities (HK) Brokerage Company (Guosen) HK$15.2 million for failures in complying with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) regulatory requirements when handling third party fund deposits.

This is the largest fine imposed under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO) to date.

In this e-bulletin, we provide an overview of the Guosen case and other recent cases, the regulators’ approach to AML/CFT enforcement, as well as a reminder of the recent AML/CFT regulatory guidance.

Continue reading

Anti-money laundering regulatory round-up

Author: Susannah Cogman

Late 2018 and early 2019 saw a flurry of regulatory developments and proposals relating to anti-money laundering. We have reported on these in brief in our regular corporate crime updates, but for those who have been – for example – too immersed in Brexit to read the underlying documents in detail, we have taken this opportunity to bring together an overview of, and commentary on, a number of recent anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (“AML/CTF”) developments. In particular, we discuss in this briefing:

  • the FCA’s report on data submitted in the first annual financial crime data return;
  • recent developments in the EU’s list of high risk third countries;
  • amendments to compliance requirements in respect of anonymous safety deposit boxes;
  • the FCA’s thematic review on money laundering risks in the e-money sector;
  • a Decision Notice issued by the FCA to a CEO for failings in his oversight of his bank’s AML systems and inadequate supervision of the MLRO to whom he had delegated relevant responsibilities;
  • proposals relating to money laundering supervision in the EU;
  • the FATF’s Mutual Evaluation Review of the UK;
  • FATF guidance on a risk-based approach to the securities sector;
  • other FATF developments of interest, in particular in relation to virtual assets;
  • reform of the UK Suspicious Activity Reporting regime;
  • a recent RUSI paper on the scale of money laundering in the UK;
  • AML-related amendments to the Financial Crime Guide (FC), following consultation GC 18/1; and
  • an overview of the current position regarding AML compliance post-Brexit, in the event of a no-deal exit.

Please click here to read our full briefing.

Continue reading

Corporate Crime autumn update 2018

Welcome to the autumn 2018 edition of our corporate crime update – our round up of developments in relation to corruption, money laundering, fraud, sanctions and related matters. Our update now covers a number of jurisdictions.

For the full update on each jurisdiction, please click on the name of the jurisdiction below where we provide a brief overview of what is covered. Continue reading

HONG KONG’S ANTI-GRAFT COMMISSIONER WARNS OF CORRUPTION ON BELT AND ROAD

The head of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has warned local investors to beware of rampant corruption in some Belt and Road countries.

ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-Lu pledged the support of the agency, one of the world’s most respected and effective anti-corruption agencies, in helping investors and Belt and Road countries themselves with graft training.

Concern at corruption is far from new; President Xi Jinping highlighted the need for international counter-corruption cooperation at China’s Belt and Road Forum in May 2017. Continue reading

SFC proposes to implement revisions to AML/CFT guidelines on 1 November 2018 ahead of FATF Hong Kong evaluation

On 5 July 2018, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) issued a consultation paper on proposals to amend the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Main Guideline) and the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Guideline issued by the Securities and Futures Commission for Associated Entities (Guideline for AEs). Comments on the proposals are required to be submitted by 9 August 2018. Continue reading

Corporate Crime update – June 2018

Welcome to the June 2018 edition of our corporate crime update – our round up of developments in relation to corruption, money laundering, fraud, sanctions and related matters. For the full update on each jurisdiction, please click on the name of the jurisdiction below. Below we provide a brief overview of what is covered in each update. Please note, our next edition will be published in August.

Herbert Smith Freehills would like to congratulate Senior Associate, Elizabeth Head of our Corporate Crime & Investigations team in London, for being named by Global Investigations Review as one of 100 Women in Investigations for 2018. Continue reading

EU Parliament-commissioned report – Virtual currencies and terrorist financing

The EU Parliament’s internal Think Tank has published a study commissioned by Parliament’s special Committee on Terrorism (TERR) into virtual currencies (VCs) and terrorist financing (TF). Via TERR, the report may contribute to Parliament’s consideration of the treatment of VCs, particularly with regard to safeguards to prevent/detect the use of VCs in TF. Continue reading