The Executive Yuan yesterday launched its Anti-Money Laundering Office to clamp down on money laundering and improve the nation’s financial transparency.
“Taiwan is the first nation in the Asia-Pacific region to legislate against money laundering, but in the past 10 years, Taiwan has been falling behind in this area and might even be listed on the Asia-Pacific Group on Money Laundering watch list,” Premier Lin Chuan (林全) said at the office’s launch ceremony in Taipei.
Stricter law enforcement will not burden the financial sector, but could instead facilitate financial activities, Lin said.
“I have heard people say that offshore banking units would leave the nation if the Money Laundering Control Act (洗錢防制法) was enforced more rigorously, or it would affect personal and financial privacy. These are unproductive thoughts. We want people to cooperate with the government in preventing money laundering to rebuild the financial system and transform it into a more transparent and regulated environment,” Lin said.
Minister of Justice Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said the financial sector has long neglected the importance of cracking down on money laundering, resulting in the violation of US money laundering rules by the Mega International Commercial Bank’s New York branch, for which the bank was issued a US$180 million fine in August last year.
The office is to ensure legal compliance and prevent the laundering of illegal assets on an international level, Chiu said.
All high-level officials of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government would be under the office’s regulation to supervise their loans and real-estate transactions, Deputy Minister of Justice Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said.
Relatives, close friends and aides of the officials would also be regulated, and any monetary transaction would be reviewed.
The office has of 19 staff members and is to be headed by Deputy Minister of Justice Tsai Pi-chung (蔡碧仲).