Tue, Nov 06, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Third-round APG evaluations begin

CONFIDENT:The leader of the evaluation team said this is his 17th time conducting APG mutual evaluations and that Taiwan’s delegation is by far the best organized

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

Premier William Lai, center, welcomes Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering evaluators at a ceremony in Taipei yesterday.

Photo provided by the Executive Yuan

Representatives from nearly 100 legal and financial entities across Taiwan gathered yesterday in Taipei for the nation’s third round of mutual evaluations by members of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), while Premier William Lai (賴清德) expressed confidence in the national delegation.

The evaluation runs through Friday next week, and is conducted by a nine-member team led by APG Secretariat member David Shannon, who is to present a preliminary report on the final day.

Under review are 37 government agencies, including the Judicial Yuan, the Ministry of Justice, the Financial Supervisory Commission, the central bank, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Ministry of the Interior, as well as 56 private entities, such as financial agencies, accountants, lawyers, real-estate agencies and non-profit organizations.

Shannon said at the opening ceremony held at state-run Hua Nan Financial Holdings Co’s (華南金控) headquarters that this is his 17th time conducting APG mutual evaluations, and that the Taiwanese delegation is by far the best organized, considering the involvement of high-level officials and their collaboration with the private sector.

Taiwan joined the APG as a founding member in 1997, and was the first Asian nation to promulgate legislation against money laundering, the 1996 Money Laundering Control Act (洗錢防制法), Lai said.

Inefficient implementation of the act led to Taiwan being placed on the APG’s “regular follow-up” list in 2007, before the nation was subjected to fewer follow-ups in 2011, placed on a transitional list in 2014 and removed from follow-up last year, pending the results of the next evaluation, the Executive Yuan said.

A negative evaluation would affect the nation’s capital outflow, as well as the overseas businesses of financial agencies and other Taiwanese enterprises, it added.

“Some offshore units of Taiwanese financial entities have had a problem complying with legal regulations and been punished by foreign governments,” Lai said.

Lai cited the case of the New York branch of state-run Mega Financial Holding Co (兆豐金控), which in 2016 contravened US money laundering and banking secrecy laws and was fined US$180 million by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

US federal financial regulators in January fined the bank another US$29 million after its New York, Chicago and Silicon Valley branches failed an inspection.

To prevent similar contraventions, the government requires financial businesses to communicate problems and tighten controls over domestic and overseas units, Lai said.

After establishing the Anti-Money Laundering Office in March last year, the government amended the Money Laundering Control Act, the Company Act (公司法) and the Counter-Terrorism Financing Act (資恐防制法), while promulgating the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act (國際刑事司法互助法) and the Corporation Act (財團法人法), he said.

Citing amendments passed in July that overhauled the Company Act, Lai said the government abolished “bearer shares” in an effort to push companies to have more transparent management.

The Legislative Yuan on Friday last week passed amendments to the Money Laundering Control Act, which regulates virtual currency trading and stipulates a maximum fine of NT$10 million (US$324,981) for firms that have not established an internal auditing mechanism.

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