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Money laundering in APAC takes centre stage this week
Antonis Melis
February 18, 2021

Hong Kong was a prime destination for filtering illicit money in 2020 with over HK$8 billion (£739 million) going through local bank accounts.

Crown Resorts Perth’s operations are set to be investigated after their Sydney casino was formally found to be unsuitable to operate.

And the Philippines looks to improve their compliance standards with a new money laundering risk assessment framework.

Find out more on these stories below

Over HK$8 billion from scam victims laundered through Hong Kong bank accounts in 2020

Thousands of Hong Kong banks accounts were used to launder more than HK$8.33 billion (£769 million) which was conned from victims of online, phone and investment scams in 2020. Nearly HK$3.07 billion (£283 million) of that was intercepted by the police force’s anti-fraud squad, with the remaining HK$5.26 billion (£486 million) being pocketed by criminals.

Police sources said thousands of Hong Kong bank accounts, both personal and business, were believed to have been used to collect and launder the funds.

“It is possible more than 10,000 accounts were involved, because one such payment could be transferred into several bank accounts and, in most of the cases, money was usually moved between layers of accounts before being channelled out of the city,” one source said.

In Hong Kong, money laundering carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail and a HK$5 million (£460 000) fine.

Crown’s Crisis Deepens as Regulator Recommends Perth Probe

Western Australia’s gaming watchdog wasted no time in proposing an independent investigation into Crown Resorts Perth’s operations hours after their Sydney casino was found unsuitable to operate.

As Crown’s license to run their Melbourne casino also under review, the company now risks their entire Australian business being put under tighter regulations or possibly be judged unfit to stay open.

Find out more on this story from Bloomberg.

New anti-money laundering rules in the Philippines set to focus on riskier institutions

The Philippines’ is set to introduce a new money laundering risk assessment framework that is expected to improve their defence against financial crime, and help the country comply with international laws.

The Money Laundering Terrorist/Financing Risk Assessment System (MRAS) will be a new monitoring tool that will allow regulators to devote more resources and pay closer attention to financial institutions that present a higher risk of being used money laundering conduits. This differs from their current scheme where the Anti Money-Laundering Council monitors everyone across the industry evenly, regardless of their risk profile or track record.

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