Hong Kong's Money Laundering Law Could Soon Extend to Non-Financial Businesses

Hong Kong's Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Amlo), currently applicable only to the financial sector, could soon extend to accounting and law firms, property agencies and jewellery shops, reports the South China Morning Post.

Amlo took effect in April 2012 and covers banks, securities companies and insurance firms, as well as money service operators (remittance agents and foreign exchange firms).

"We will consider appropriate regulatory or legislative measures to enhance the anti-money-laundering and counter-financing-of-terrorism standards for non-financial businesses in Hong Kong," a spokeswoman for the Financial Services and Treasury Bureau told the Post.

In an interview with the Post, Simon Deane, a partner at Deacons, one of Hong Kong's oldest law firms, says he "would expect there to be a spike in the number of reports filed with the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit from some of these sectors, because they would be obliged by law to conduct client due diligence."

The Post reported that the number of reports to police of suspicious financial transactions rose 40 per cent to 33,000 last year. The Financial Investigations Division of the Narcotics Bureau initiated 349 investigations in 2013, up 41.9 per cent from the 246 in 2012.

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