Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
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Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, is a major international financial and trading center. Money laundering in Hong Kong is a considerable problem due to the vulnerability created by low taxes, a simplified tax system, and a sophisticated banking system. The primary sources of laundered funds are narcotics trafficking (particularly heroin, methamphetamine, and ecstasy), tax evasion, fraud, illegal gambling, and commercial crimes. Laundering channels include Hong Kong’s banking system, and its legitimate and underground remittance and money transfer networks.
The previous AML regime in Hong Kong was governed by three Ordinances: the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance (DTROP) and the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance (OSCO), which were issued in 1989 and 1994 respectively, and the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance (UNATMO), which was issued in 2002. Finally, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance (AMLO) was issued in April 2012.
The Financial Services Branch of the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has the overall coordinating role for anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) policies. The Bureau monitors Hong Kong’s overall compliance with all the 40+9 Recommendations made by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The Narcotics Division assists in overseeing the implementation of the Recommendations that are related to the non-financial sectors and the non-profit organisations with a view to ensuring that AML/CFT measures taken by the relevant sectors and organisations are in step with the established international standards.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is the regulator for AML controls for the banking sector.
Financial institutions are required to know and record the identities of their customers and maintain those records for five to seven years. Financial institutions must monitor compliance through on-site inspections and other means. Hong Kong law enforcement agencies also provide training and feedback on suspicious transaction reporting.
The Economy of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Hong Kong has a free market economy highly dependent on international trade and finance, which has left it heavily exposed to the global economic slowdown that began in 2008. The region has become increasingly integrated with mainland China over the past few years through trade, tourism, and financial links. In 2014, Hong Kong and China signed a new agreement on achieving basic liberalization of trade in services in Guangdong Province under the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement. The new measures, effective from March 2015, will improve access to the mainland's service sector for Hong Kong-based companies.
During the past decade, as Hong Kong's manufacturing industry has moved to the mainland, its service industry has grown rapidly and now accounts for 93% of the territory's GDP. Hong Kong's natural resources are limited, and food and raw materials must be imported. Hong Kong continues to link its currency closely to the U.S. dollar, maintaining an arrangement established in 1983.
Hong Kong is the world's eighth largest banking center in terms of external transactions and the fifth largest foreign exchange trading center. The country has constituted itself as a major international trade and financial center with proper economic fundamentals.
Banking in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is the Central Bank of Hong Kong. Its main functions and responsibilities include maintaining the monetary and banking stability which are governed by the Exchange Fund Ordinance and the Banking Ordinance. The Central Bank reports to the Financial Secretary.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Currency
The currency in Hong Kong is the dollar (often abbreviated HKD or HK$), which is generally accepted in the southern region of the Chinese territory. Banknotes appear in denominations of $20, $50, $100, $500 and $1,000. Coins appear in denominations of 10, 20 and 50 cents, and $1, $2, $5 and $10.
Other Key Statistic of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Time Zone: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time).
Location: Eastern Asia, bordering the South China Sea and China.
Population: 7,112,688 (July 2014 est.).
The unemployment rate is 3.1%.
*Note: The data above excludes the public sector (2013 est.).
Languages Spoken: Chinese – Cantonese dialect (official), other Chinese dialects, English (official).
Trade Organizations: Hong Kong is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).