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Events

December 2018

13th
  • “The AMLO Statutory Requirements and Risk Management (Cantonese) course” jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) will be held on 24 Jan 2019, Thursday night
    • Time: 19:00 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
  • Our Association encourages Money Service Operators (MSOs) to proactively participate in the course to further enhance their knowledge and understanding on the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Laws and regulations. All attendees will be awarded a certificate issued by Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK) after completion of the course
4th
  • "Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorist Financing Workshop" (English) co-organized by Deloitte China and our Association was successfully completed. Deloitte’s specialist had shared the Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing risks and challenges that will be faced by industry practitioners. Guest speaker, Artic Intelligence, had demonstrated the simplified AML/CTF risk assessment tool
  • Our Association will continue to hold workshops and seminars on Anti-Money Laundering so as to promote the industry practitioners on compliance operations. We would like to thank Deloitte China, Artic Intelligence, and all Money Service Operators for their support

November 2018

16th
  • Registration is closed for the “Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorist Financing Workshop (English)” co-organised by our Association and Deloitte. Our next course will be held on 24 January 2019. Details as follows:
8th
  • HK Customs and Excise Department has issued a circular to Money Service Operators in regards to the New Solution for e-STR Reporting
  • In order to enhance the capacity in suspicious transaction report processing and shorten the time required for STR reporting entities to receive feedback from JFIU after submitting an STR, the JFIU has recently developed a new solution,“e-STR Submission” (“e-STR”) which will replace the existing STR submission channel “S-box”, tentatively in the 1st quarter of 2019
  • JFIU had rolled out the e-STR in Aug 2018. The purpose is to allow users to make disclosure via an electronic means in a faster and more secure manner. The e-STR also provides additional supporting functions such as retrieval of previous STRs as well as a real-time check of the feedback given by JFIU
  • To expedite the process of submitting STRs, our Association will greatly encourage all Money Service Operators to use e-STR submission as far as possible

October 2018

26th
  • The “AMLO Statutory Requirements and Risk Management” course (Cantonese), jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus Details are as follows:
    • Date: 24 January 2019 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 – 21:30 (2.5 hours)
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
  • Programme Objectives:
    • Aims to provide money service operators a better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
    • Raises practitioners' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence and Ongoing Monitoring, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators The course only costs MSOA member HK$490 per person. Seats are limited, please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer
22th
  • The Customs & Excise Department (“C&ED”) issued a circular to all Money Service Operators (“MSOs”) on 19th October, 2018. The Guideline Amendments to on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing will take effect from November 1, 2018, which can be downloaded from the C&ED website
  • The amendments of the Guideline include, among others, the following:
    • renaming the Guideline as “Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Financing of Terrorism” to better align with the terminology used throughout the Guideline and the Financial Action Task Force standards
    • rewriting the Chapter on Risk-based Approach (“RBA”) and renumbering it as Chapter 2 to implement the Institutional Risk Assessment and Customer Risk Assessment
    • allowing MSOs the flexibility to adopt reasonable risk-based measures to verify customer identification information and clarifying the address verification requirements
    • expanding the categories of politically exposed persons (‘PEPs’) to include international organisation PEPs who are persons entrusted with a prominent function by an international organisation and extending the enhanced scrutiny for foreign PEPs to domestic PEPs and international organisation PEPs where their business relationships with an MSO are assessed to be of high risk
    • requiring MSOs to screen their customers and any beneficial owners of the customers against all new and updated United Nations sanctions lists regardless of whether they have been implemented in Hong Kong
    • clarifying that the record-keeping requirements also apply to occasional transactions
  • Our Association reminds that all MSOs should review their existing policies and procedures in light of the changes in the Guideline and take any necessary steps to ensure continued compliance with all applicable requirements of the Guideline
10th
  • Our Association has released the latest October issue of the Members’ Circular to all members. The issue includes information of Enquiry Hotline for Account Opening and Maintenance: held by Deloitte and our Association, HKC&ED news and recent news relevant to licensed
5th
  • HKC&ED recently took action to combat unlicensed money services and discovered that a grocery store in Tai Kok Tsui was suspected of providing remittance services to domestic helpers without a valid MSO license, in which the case is currently under investigation
  • According to AMLO, anyone who wishes to operate remittances and/or currency exchange services must apply for a MSO licence from HKC&ED
  • Our Association would like to draw your attention that any person who operates a money service without a valid license commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for six months

September 2018

24th
  • All Money Service Operators should note that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (“HKMA”) has provided the Contact Information of 20 Retail Banks in Hong Kong on its website, which includes the required information and documents needed for opening a bank account
  • HKMA has also provide an Enquiry Hotline for Account Opening and Maintenance:
    • Enquiry Hotline: (852) 2878 1133
    • E-mail: accountopening@hkma.gov.hk
  • Should a Money Service Operator consider that the bank has not handled the account opening application properly, he/she can make a complaint to HKMA. Details of Complaint Processing Centre (For bank complaints) are as follow:
    • Enquiry Hotline: (852) 2878 1378
    • Fax: (852) 2509 3990
    • E-mail: bankcomplaints@hkma.gov.hk
12th
  • Having considered the difficulties faced by some Money Service Operators (“MSOs”) in researching United Nations Sanctions List and Political Exposed Persons (PEPs) during customer due diligence, our Association have contacted Dow Jones Risk & Compliance, and to provide relevant database service to MSOs and help them to meet customer due diligence and record keeping requirement
  • Dow Jones Risk & Compliance is now pleased to offer a two-week trial version of customer due diligence solutions to our members. If members are interested in this trial service, please contact us on or before 31/10/2018

August 2018

31th
  • The Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department is going to organize Seminars for licensed money chargers, and is now inviting Money Service Operators (MSOs) to participate the Seminars (Cantonese and English). Details of the Seminars are as follows:
  • Purpose of the Seminars:
    • strengthen the participants’ cognition on the MSO licensing requirements the importance of risk identification and ongoing monitoring
    • introduce the "Cross-boundary Movement of Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Ordinance”
    • enhance participants’ understanding of the statutory obligations and practices of suspicious transaction reporting
    • examine the vulnerability of the MSO sector by making reference to the recent telephone scams
  • Venue: Lecture Hall 1, Hong Kong Science Museum, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, Hong Kong
  • Date and time:
    • Cantonese: 2 October 2018 (Tuesday) 09:30 – 12:30
    • English: 2 October 2018 (Tuesday) 14:00 – 17:00
    • Cantonese: 8 October 2018 (Monday) 14:00 – 17:00
  • Application Deadline: On or before 14 September 2018
  • Our Association encourages licensed money chargers to attend the Seminar, in order to enhance understanding of the vulnerability of the MSO sector and draw attention to the licensing requirements and the importance of risk identification as well as ongoing monitoring
17th
  • The Customs and Excise Department has issued a Circular. It should pay attention to the specific format required by the JFIU and provide relevant information according to the content requirement in specified forms when submitting the Suspicious Transaction Reports (“STRs”)
  • Our Associations recommends all licensed MSOs to make reference to the reporting methods and advice available on the website of the JFIU before filing the STRs
  • Any suspicion should be reported to JIFU. If they do not make a report in these circumstances, they may be prosecuted for the offence of "Failing To Make A Suspicious Transaction Report", a crime which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of HK$50,000 and three months' imprisonment
16th
  • Alert have been issued by the Anti-Deception Coordination Centre (ADCC) from Hong Kong Police Force to all licensed Money Service Operators (MSO). Recently, it has come to the attention of the Police about remittance fraud in which fraudsters have been deceiving MSO via instant message. They purported that money had been transferred to the account of the MSO. In the meantime, they requested remittance service by showing counterfeit bank deposit slips
  • Our Association reminds all licensed MSO to be aware of the following suggestions:
    • Money service operators should request clients to submit by hand the documentation required for customer due diligence process, such as copies of Hong Kong Permanent Identity Cards
    • Money service operators should verify requestors’ identity documents in person (i.e. face-to-face verification)
    • Upon receiving bank deposit slips from requestors, money service operators must confirm with the banks that the transactions are duly completed with actual credits available for use by the money service operators
    • Money service operators should properly maintain their CCTV video records and bank deposit/withdrawal slips to facilitate police investigation in future
  • The Hong Kong Police Force reminds all licensed MSO are required to perform “Screen”, “Ask”, “Find” and “Evaluate” to their clients. They should be alerted at all times and beware of suspicious transaction in avoidance of fraudulent traps
  • If any doubt is found during the transaction process, please immediately dial 18222, ADCC’s Public Enquiry Hotline
9th
  • The recent newspapers have reported articles of a robbery case involving considerable amount of cash at a money charge. Our Association reminds all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) that they should enhance the security measures, including:
    • Installing Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) (with night vision function) and connecting it to the alarm system of security companies;
    • Installing safe with no time limit
    • Installing double doors in shops
    • From time to time changing the routes of delivery and avoiding carrying business funds at fixed time, as the daily operations of MSOs usually involved a large amount of cash storage, delivery and transport. This will prevent criminals from ambushing and robbing
    • Placing smartphone with the valuables for easy tracking
    • Appointing Security Companies to escort a large amount of money
    • Considering purchasing Money Insurance to avoid the property loss due to the occurrences of crime or accidents
1st
  • Technology Voucher Programme (“TVP”) was launched by the Innovation and Technology Commission to subsidise local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in using technological services and solutions to improve productivity, or upgrade or transform their business processes
  • The eligibility of TVP has been relaxed as follows:
    • an applicant enterprise is required to have substantive business operation in Hong Kong at the time of application instead of for a year; and
    • TVP is eligible to non-listed enterprises of all sizes instead of just for small and medium enterprises
  • The Technology Voucher can be used to purchase, rental or subscription of customised equipment/hardware, software and technological services or solutions that form an essential part of the project
  • For funding support under TVP, prior approval must be obtained before project commencement. The project deliverables should be used in a way that would have direct impact on the applicant enterprise’s business operation in Hong Kong
  • Our Association recommends that all licensed Money Service Operators may consider participating in the relevant plan for their own business needs
  • For more information about the TVP, please visit Innovation and Technology Commission’s website

July 2018

25th
  • The Customs and Excise Department has issued a Circular regarding statutory requirement of displaying the original MSO licence under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (“AMLO”). A MSO licensee who is licensed to operate a money service at premises specified in the licence must display the original of the licence in a conspicuous place at the specified premises
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs that a licensee who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes the statutory requirement of displaying the original MSO licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $50,000. Besides, the Commissioner of Customs and Excise may take disciplinary actions against the offender pursuant to section 43 of the AMLO
23rd
  • Our Association would like to remind all Money Service Operators that it is required to establish its own database record based on the United Nations Sanctions List for record and reference. Periodic review on the website of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Sanctions Committees or Publications of the Customs and Excise Department Money Service Supervision Bureau is necessary.
  • After the promulgation of sanctions resolutions and sanctions lists, Money Service Operators are required to update their own database for screening against the existing customer database as soon as practicable whenever there are such updates, in order to lower the risk of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing.
  • Our Association hopes that all Money Service Operators should maintain a full set of relevant investigation records properly when deemed necessary upon inspection by regulators.
20th
  • To ensure that the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing meets the latest international standards, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department has previously reviewed the revised version and is now consulting the money service industry and industry stakeholders.
  • If licensed money changers wish to provide valuable advice on this consultation, please submit it by any of the following methods on or before July 27, 2018:
    Mail: Units 1218-1222, 12th Floor, Nan Fung Commercial Centre, 19 Lam Lok Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon
    Fax: (852) 2707 7838
    Email: msoenquiry@customs.gov.hk
12th
  • The Customs and Excise Department held an “Anti-Money Laundering Seminar” on 24th May 2018, with topics about customer due diligence, ongoing monitoring, identification of unusual transactions, renewal of licence applications, provision of transaction record keeping, licencing requirements, law enforcement news, and the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. Highlights of the seminar include:
  • A licensee who is licensed to operate a money service at premises specified in the licence must display the original of the licence in a conspicuous place at the specified premises
  • Statutory requirements that must be complied by MSOs: formulating appropriate internal AML/CFT policies, procedures and controls, appointing a compliance officer and an ML reporting officer, and refraining from carrying out suspicious transactions
  • The Customs and Excise Department will strengthen the supervision of the money service industry through the following measures in the future
    • Assessing MSOs’ AML/CFT knowledge and providing tailor-made AML/CFT compliance training programmes to MSOs
    • Strengthening MSOs’ level of compliance by raising their awareness in using computerized system for transaction monitoring as well as in improving STR quality
    • Supervising the proper implementation of AML/CFT compliance programmes by MSOs
    • Conducting a thematic review of the client base of MSOs including clientele segments to facilitate the formulation of more targeted mitigating measures against the identified risk factors
5th
  • The Cross-boundary Movement of Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Ordinance, Chapter 629, Laws of Hong Kong (“the Ordinance”) will come into operation on 16 July 2018. According to the Ordinance, an advance electronic declaration must be made to the Customs and Excise Department via the Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Declaration System (“CDS”) for importing or exporting a large quantity of currency and bearer negotiable instruments (“CBNIs”) (i.e. the total value of which is more than HKD120,000) as cargo in one batch.
  • CBNI means a note, or coin, that is legal tender in Hong Kong or a place outside Hong Kong; or negotiable instrument. Examples of such instrument include traveller’s cheque, bearer cheque, promissory note, bearer bond, money order and postal order.
  • Our Association hopes that all Money Service Operators should attention to the above mentioned Ordinance. All breaches are subject to criminal proceedings. The maximum penalty is a fine of HKD500,000 and imprisonment for two years.

June 2018

5th
5th
  • Our Association has released the latest June issue of the Members’ Circular to all members. The issue includes information of course held by our Association, HKC&ED news, enforcement news and recent news relevant to licensed MSOs.
4th
  • The Cross-boundary Movement of Physical Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Ordinance, Chapter 629, Laws of Hong Kong (“the Ordinance”) will come into operation on 16 July 2018. According to the Ordinance, an advance electronic declaration must be made to the Customs and Excise Department via the Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments Declaration System for importing or exporting, in one batch, currency and bearer negotiable instruments (CBNIs) of a total value over HKD120,000 in a cargo consignment
  • Our Association hopes that all Money Service Operators (MSOs) pay attention to the above mentioned Ordinance, offenders are liable on conviction to a fine of HK$500,000 and to imprisonment for 2 years. For details, please refer to the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department website

May 2018

28th
3rd
  • The Government published Hong Kong’s Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (“ML/TF”) Risk Assessment Report on 30 April 2018. Having regard to the recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force for jurisdictions to identify and assess their ML/TF risks and to apply corresponding mitigating measures, the Report examines the ML/TF threats and vulnerabilities faced by various sectors in Hong Kong and the city as a whole
  • Our association encourages MSOs to read the report especially MSOs section under Chapter 5 - Sectoral Risk Assessment
2nd
  • HKCED recently issued Circular about Amendments to
  • Disciplinary Action Guideline on Imposition of Pecuniary Penalty. The revised guideline comes into immediate effect and mainly:
    • Section 39A is newly added to stipulate that “A licensee who is licensed to operate a money service at premises specified in the licence must display the original of the licence in a conspicuous place at the specified premiss” and “ A licence who, without reasonable excuse, contravenes section 39A (1) commits an offence”
  • Our association reminds all licensed MSOs to pay attention to this amendment. A contravention of the newly added section 39A is subject to disciplinary actions taken by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise under section 43(1)(c)

April 2018

30th
  • The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department will be organising Seminars for Money Service Operators (MSOs) on 24 May (Cantonese) and 25 May (English) respectively at the Auditorium, 15/F, Customs Headquarters Building, 222 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong. The contents of the Seminar are as follows:
    • To update the participants on the latest development of the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorist Financing Mutual Evaluations and the results of the Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing risk assessment on the MSO sector;
    • To strengthen the participants’ cognition on the MSO licensing requirements and their statutory obligations;
    • To brief the participants on the fair trading sections under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance; and
    • To introduce the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and increase the participants’ awareness of common corruption pitfalls in the industry
  • Our Association encourages MSOs to proactively attend the captioned seminar so as to enhance their understanding of the relevant legislation and guidelines
27th
  • HKC&ED recently took action to combat unlicensed money services, and discovered that a jewelry shop was operating money service without a valid MSO licence. According to AMLO, anyone who wishes to operate remittances and/or currency exchange services must apply for a MSO licence from HKC&ED
  • Our Association would like to draw your attention that any person who operates a money service without a valid licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for six months
23rd
  • Our Association would like to draw all licensed MSOs’ attention to Section 39A(1) in the AMLO. Under the newly added provision, all licensed MSOs must display the original of the licence in a conspicuous place at the specified premises. Licensees who do not receive any letter of notification by 3 May 2018 should contact the Money Service Supervision Bureau for timely arrangement.
  • MSOs who have been notified about the arrangement, please bring along the letter of notification, the existing MSO licence and the company chop to the office of the Money Service Supervision Bureau during business hours for the replacement and collection of MSO licences.
6th
  • “AMLO Statutory Requirement” course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 28 June 2018 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 – 21:30 (2.5 hours)
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises practitioners' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence and Ongoing Monitoring, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators
    • The course only costs MSOA member HK$390 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer

March 2018

20th
20th
  • The places for the “AMLO Statutory Requirements Course” (Cantonese) organised by our Association on 22 March 2018 (Thursday) have all been taken up
  • The next AML course is scheduled in June 2018 and is now open for enrollment. Details are as follows:
    • Date:28 June 2018 (Thursday)
    • Time:19:00 - 21:30 (2.5 hours)
    • Venue:9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language:Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
15th
  • To dovetail with the newly-added provision of Section 39A(1) in the AMLO regarding the regulations requiring a licensee who operates a money service at specified premises must display the original of the licence in a conspicuous place at such specified premises, Money Service Supervision Bureau (MSSB) of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) is notifying Money Service Operators (MSOs) by post about their licence replacement arrangement
  • Licensees who received relevant notification letters are required to visit the office of MSSB during the time specified in the letters along with their notification letter, existing MSO licence and company chop to replace and collect their licence
  • MSSB reminds MSOs who collected their licence must properly keep and by law display the licence, so as to comply with regulations and to operate in compliance
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs again that if they do not receive a letter of notification from HKC&ED by 3 May 2018, they should proactively contact MSSB for timely arrangement
13th
  • Our Association has released the latest March issue of the Members’ Circular to all members. The issue includes information of course held by our Association, HKC&ED news, enforcement news and recent news relevant to licensed MSOs.
6th
  • Our Association has sent letters to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) regarding the “AMLO Statutory Requirements” Course (Cantonese) to be co-organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) on 22 March 2018. We hope that practitioners in MSO industry proactively attend the course and encourage employees to develop themselves continuously
    • Course Time : 19:00 - 21:30 (2.5 hours)
    • Course Venue : 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
  • Attendants who completed the course will be awarded a course certificate issued by PEAK. The course only costs MSOA member HK$390 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer
1st
  • The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) published a Circular to draw all licensed Money Service Operators’ (MSOs’) attention that the amended Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Cap. 615) (“AMLO”) has come into operation on 1 March 2018
  • Under the newly-added provision of Section 39A in the AMLO, a licensee who operates a money service at specified premises must display the original of the licence in a conspicuous place at such specified premises. To dovetail with this amendment Ordinance, HKC&ED shall issue revised licences to all the licences MSOs’
  • Individual licensees will be notified of the detailed arrangement of the replacement and collection of the MSO licences at the office of the Money Service Supervision Bureau (MSSB) during the specified period between 12 March and 31 May 2018
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs that if they do not receive a letter of notification from HKC&ED by 3 May 2018, they should proactively contact MSSB for timely arrangement

February 2018

20th
  • The Hong Kong Custom and Excise Department has published a circular to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) on 14 February regarding that the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) (Amendment) Ordinance 2018 (the Amendment Ordinance) will come into operation on 1 March 2018. Our Association reminds all MSOs to review the Amendment Ordinance and ensure compliance with its requirements
14th
  • The Hong Kong Custom and Excise Department (HKC&ED) published a circular to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) on 7 February 2018 so as to advise MSOs to browse the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Sanctions Committee website regularly. Whenever UNSC promulgates or revises sanctions resolution or sanctions list of a country, entity or individual, regardless of whether the relevant sanctions have been implemented in Hong Kong via United Nations Sanctions Ordinance (Cap.537) (UNSO) or otherwise in Hong Kong, MSOs are required to include all new designations in their database and screen such designations against their client lists as soon as practicable, in order to mitigate the risk of money laundering or terrorist financing
  • In addition, when MSOs fulfil their obligations with regard to customer due diligence, transaction monitoring and record-keeping, besides the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Cap.615) (AMLO), they must also pay attention to other applicable legislations, including the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance (Cap.575) (UNATMO), the Weapons of Mass Destruction (Control of Provision of Services) Ordinance (Cap.526) (WMD(CPS)O), the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance (Cap.405) (DTROP), the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (Cap.455) (OSCO), and so on, and be alert to the risk of inadvertently committing offences
2nd
  • Our Association would like to remind all Money Service Operators that they should from time to time pay attention to information including High-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions published by The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Countries that are specified in the United Nations Sanctions Ordinance and its subsidiary legislation, Publications and Notices from the Money Service Supervision Bureau of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED). They should make use of different sources of data to update and adjust the customer background screening measures and database they adopt, and must appropriately keep the relevant screening records so as to provide evidence of records upon inspections of regulatory bodies

January 2018

29th
  • “AMLO Statutory Requirement” course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 22 March 2018 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 – 21:30 (2.5 hours)
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises practitioners' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence and Ongoing Monitoring, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators
    • The course only costs MSOA member HK$390 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer
26th
  • The Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies Course (English) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held successfully. The course instructors explained and analysed in details the requirements and importance of Ongoing Monitoring so as to enhance attendants’ understanding on the relevant statutory regulations, rules and guidelines. Our Association will continue to devote our efforts in organising relevant anti-money laundering courses in order to promote compliant operations to the industry
16th
  • The Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies English course jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) will be held on 25 Jan 2018, Thursday night
    • Time: 19:00 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
  • Our Association encourages Money Service Operators (MSOs) to proactively participate in the course to deepen their understanding on the importance of Ongoing Monitoring. Those who completed the course will be awarded a course certificate issued by Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK)
11th
  • With reference to the recent news reports regarding the “Cash Withdrawing Gang” coming to Hong Kong to withdraw money from ATMs. One man carried multiple ATM cards with different names issued by banks from the Mainland China and repeatedly withdrew large amounts of Hong Kong dollar from ATMs of several banks in Hong Kong. Some gang members even enquire exchange rates with MSO (Money Service Operator) staff. It is suspected of involving capital outflow or money laundering
  • Our Association hopes that all licensed MSOs must comply with Chapter 615: Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Laws of Hong Kong and conduct Customer Due Diligence and Ongoing Monitoring to customers, and keep records of relevant customer information and transactions records. If MSOs find any suspicious indicators of customer’s identities and their transactions, licensed MSOs is responsible for reporting the relevant activities to the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit with the format of suspicious transaction reports (STRs)
5th
  • The Anti-Deception Coordination Centre (ADCC) the Hong Kong Police Force has sent letters regarding prevention of telephone deceptions to all Money Service Operators (MSOs). Due to the frequent occurrence of such type of deceptions and the ever-changing modus operandi of fraudsters, the Hong Kong Police Force reminds licensed MSOs must adopt all reasonable measures and stay vigilant at all times in order to mitigate the risk of money laundering. If there is any suspicions toward transactions, MSOs should not proceed such transactions.
  • Our Association appeals to all MSOs to post the obtained posters regarding prevention of telephone deception attached in the letter at visible locations and reminds front-line staff to ask remitters to read the poster contents when handling remittances. If there is any suspicions during transactions, please immediately call enquiry hotline 18222 to let people in needs get timely assistance.
  • Our Association has released the latest January issue of the Members’ Circular to all members. The issue includes information of course held by our Association and recent news relevant to licensed MSOs

December 2017

18th
  • Hong Kong Custom and Excise Department (HKC&ED) has issued an enforcement news to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) with regard to a recent case of MSO convicted of operating without licence. A woman operated a money service without a licence form the commissioner of customer and excise. According to the requirement of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, anyone who wishes to operate money remittance and/or money changing services must apply to HKC&ED for a licence
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs that they must comply with statutory requirements. Operating money services without licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for six months and a fine of HK$100,000
4th
  • Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies” course (English) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 25 January 2018 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 – 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: taught in English
  • Programme Objectives:
  • Aims to help money service operators better understand the requirements relevant to Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
  • Raises practitioners’ awareness on Ongoing Monitoring, enhances their understanding towards customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators. The course only costs MSOA member HK$380 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer
1st
  • The AMLO Statutory Requirements Course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held successfully. The course instructors explained and analysed in details the statutory regulations, rules and guidelines regarding AMLO so as to enhance attendants’ awareness on Customer Due Diligence and Ongoing Monitoring. Our Association will continue to devote our efforts in organising relevant anti-money laundering courses in order to promote compliant operations to the industry

November 2017

17th
  • Due to the active enrolment, the places for the “AMLO Statutory Requirements Course (Cantonese)” jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (“PEAK”) have all been taken up. For those who would like to enroll in our course, please pay attention to the course information published by our Association from time to time. The next course will be held on 25 January 2018. The details are as follows:
  • Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies Course (Cantonese)
    • Date:25 January 2018 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 - 21:30 (2.5 hours)
    • Venue:9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language:English
8th
  • Our Association has released the latest November issue of the Members’ Circular to all members. The issue includes information of course held by our Association and recent news relevant to licensed MSOs.
7th
  • The Crime Prevention Bureau (CPB) of the Hong Kong Police Force would like to invite Money Service practitioners to attend a Seminar on Anti-Deception.
  • The seminar aims to provide attendees with the features of different types of deceptions, deception trends and crime prevention information and advice, to open a liaison channel between the police and Licensed MSOs, and to identify and share steps that mitigate crime trends affecting MSO businesses. The details of the seminar are as follows:
    • Date: 22 November 2017 (Wednesday)
    • Venue: Auditorium, 8/F, Police Headquarters, No. 1 Arsenal Street, Wanchai
    • Time: 2:00pm to 5:00pm
    • Enrolment: Email the following details to peterwooky@police.gov.hk
      • Name:
      • Company:
      • Email:
      • Contact telephone number:
      • Fax number:
  • Our Association encourages licensed MSOs to proactively participate in the event and help mitigating crime and protecting their own safety
1st
  • The AMLO Statutory Requirements Cantonese course on jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held successfully will be held on 30 Nov 2017, Thursday night
  • Our Association encourages Money Service Operators (MSOs) to proactively participate in the course to deepen their understanding on the importance of customer due diligence and Ongoing Monitoring. Those who completed the course will be awarded a course certificate issued by Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK)

October 2017

23rd
  • The Hong Kong Police Force set up the “Anti-Deception Coordination Centre (ADCC)” in July to step up combat actions against deception and increase awareness of various kinds of scams. ADCC operates an all-day enquiry hotline, “Anti-Scam Helpline 18222 to provide immediate consultation for the general public and enhance support to frontline units of the Force
  • Our Association reminds all Money Service Operators (MSOs) and frontline staff that when they encounter any suspicious cases, they can immediately call the enquiry hotline 18222 for timely support to those in needs
20th
  • The Hong Kong Government has published the “Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) (Amendment) Bill 2017” (the “Bill”) in the Gazette on 23 June 2017 to make amendment toward “AMLO” in light of international standard and technological development. The relevant amendments are proposed to be implemented on 1 March 2018. The details of the “Bill” can be referred to Hong Kong Government Gazette Volume 21 Number 25 – Legal Supplement No.3
  • The “Bill” seeks to
    • apply statutory customer due diligence (“CDD”) and record-keeping requirements to solicitors, accountants, real estate agents, and trust or company service providers (“TCSPs”) when these businesses and professions engage in specified transactions; and
    • introduce a licensing regime for TCSPs to require them to apply for a licence from the Registrar of Companies and satisfy a “fit-and-proper” test before they can provide trust or company services as a business in Hong Kong
  • The improvement changes which are more relevant to the Money Service Operators (MSOs) sector include:
    • relaxing the threshold of defining beneficial ownership from the current “not less than 10%” to “more than 25%”;
    • introducing flexibility to measures permitted to be taken for verifying a customer’s identity;
    • financial institutions will have the flexibility to rely on solicitors, accountants, TCSP licensees as well as other financial institutions (including a foreign financial institution in the same parent group) as intermediaries to carry out CDD measures
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs to pay close attention to the updates and amendments of AMLO and other statutory requirements and guidelines relating to money services industry so as to ensure their operations are in compliance with legal requirements
13th
  • Our Association reminds all Money Service Operators (MSOs) that according to the MSO Licensing Guide published by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, here are some examples of particular premises to operate a money service business:
    • he premises are holding out for operating a money service there
    • the premises are advertised (including a name plate on display) for meeting customers there
    • the premises are regularly controlled by the licensee, e.g. being a landlord or a tenant
  • If the licence address type of a licensed MSO is Correspondence Address and this address touches on the above conditions, the licensee must fill out Form 5 (Application to add New Premises used for the operation of a Money Service) in order to apply for adding the address as a particular premise. Otherwise, the licensee must not operate money services at this address
  • Premises for operation of the money services must be considered by the Commissioner of Customs & Excise (CCE) to be suitable. Licensee must submit Form 5 to CCE, CCE’s agreement and approval on the Form must be obtained after its submission. If a licensee fails to seek prior approval for operating a money service at any particular premises, without reasonable excuse, commits and offence. Under section 39(8) of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO), such person is liable on conviction to a fine of HK$50,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months
  • When filling out Form 5, please be reminded to choose Application to operate a money service at particular premises (Section (1) Premises information under part 2 of the Form) and fill out all relevant information
10th
  • The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) has recently published leaflets regarding the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance ("AMLO"). Our Association hopes that all Money Service Operators (MSOs) pay attention that Counter-Terrorist Financing and Operating Currency Exchange or Remittance Service Requires Licence and display the relevant leaflets, including:
    • “Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Ordinance” Leaflet – English Version
    • “Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Ordinance” Leaflet – Traditional Chinese Version
    • “Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Ordinance” Leaflet – Simplified Chinese Version
    • “Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Ordinance” Leaflet – Indonesian Version
    • “Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Ordinance” Leaflet – Phillipino Version
    • “Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Ordinance” Counter-Terrorist Financing
  • Our Association suggests all MSOs post the above applicable leaflets at visible locations in premises for reminding staff and customers about the points-to-note before transactions. MSOs can download and print out the relevant promotional information at Download or obtain it at HKC&ED by themselves.
3rd
  • “AMLO Statutory Requirement” course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 30 November 2017 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 – 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
  • Programme Objectives:
  • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
  • Raises practitioners' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators. The course only costs MSOA member HK$380 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer.

September 2017

22nd
  • The Joint Financial Intelligence Unit (JFIU) found that the contents of submitted suspicious transaction reports (STRs) were incomplete when dealing with such reports. Therefore, our Association reminds all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) to pay attention to the specific format required by the JFIU and provide relevant information according to the content requirement in specified forms when submitting the STRs, so as to assist JFIU to perform relevant investigation. All MSOs should pay attention to information relevant to STRs
    • How to detect suspicious transactions:
      • Unusual large cash transactions
      • Substantial increases in transactions of an individual or business
      • Numerous smaller transactions
      • Exchange large quantities of low denomination notes for those of higher denominations
      • Reluctant to provide normal information
      • Transacting for various operations in the same location
      • Large number of customers transferring funds to the same beneficiary
      • Structured transfers
      • Transactions in the name of an offshore company
      • Transactions inconsistent with the customer's usual business or apparent means
    • Points to note when submitting STRs:
      • Avoid reporting repeatedly
      • Provide contact information
      • Create file reference
      • Complete report without missing pages
      • Include relevant description and rationale
      • Neat and clear font/ writing
      • Fill in the latest proforma
  • Contents of STRs should include personal particulars of the person(s) involved, details of the suspicious financial activity and the reason why the transaction is suspicious (including the type of suspicious activity indicators are present, your evaluation and analysis and the explanation (if any) given by the person about the transaction
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs if there is any suspicion, they should make a report. If they do not make a report in these circumstances, they may be prosecuted for the offence of "Failing To Make A Suspicious Transaction Report", a crime which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of HK$50,000 and three months' imprisonment
    • Please submit STRs by one of the following means:
      • By e-reporting system, STREAMS
      • By email to: jfiu@police.gov.hk
      • By fax to: (852) 2529 4013
      • By mail addressed to: Joint Financial Intelligence Unit, GPO Box 6555 Hong Kong
      • By telephone: (852) 2866 3366 (for urgent reports during office hours)
20th
  • As virtual currencies such as “Bitcoin” involve a higher risk of Money Laundering and Terrorist-Financing, our Association reiterated that licensed Money Operators (MSOs) should avoid business in relation to virtual currencies and avoid settlement service for relevant platforms
6th
  • Hong Kong Custom and Excise Department (HKC&ED) has issued an enforcement news to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) with regard to a recent case of MSO convicted of operating without licence. According to the requirement of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, anyone who wishes to operate money remittance and/or money changing services must apply to HKC&ED for a licence
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs that they must comply with statutory requirements. Operating money services without licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for six months and a fine of HK$100,000
4th
  • The Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department is organising an Anti-Money Laundering Seminar for Money Service Operators (MSOs) and invites MSOs to attend the AML Seminar (Cantonese & English). Details of the Seminars are as follows:
    • The objectives of the seminars are to:
      • Provide participants with an overview of the latest international and domestic developments and trends on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing;
      • examine the vulnerability of the MSO sector by making reference to the recent telephone scams;
      • enhance participants' understanding of the statutory obligations and practices of suspicious transaction reporting; and
      • draw participants' attention to the licensing requirements and the importance of risk identification and ongoing monitoring
    • Venue︰Lecture Theatre, G/F, Hong Kong Central Library, 66 Causeway Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong
    • Date and Time︰
      • Cantonese: 3 October 2017 (Tuesday) 09:30 – 12:30
      • Cantonese: 11 October 2017 (Wednesday) 14:00 – 17:00
      • English: 3 October 2017 (Tuesday) 14:00 – 17:00
    • * Application Deadline: 26 September 2017
  • Our Association encourages MSOs to attend these Seminars to deepen their understanding on vulnerability of the industry and raise their awareness towards licensing requirements of the MSO Licence and the importance of an effective risk identification and ongoing monitoring

August 2017

25th
  • Our Association has released the latest August issue of the Members’ Circular to all members. The issue includes information of courses held by our Association and recent news relevant to licensed MSOs.
16th
  • According to recent newspaper reports, half of the victims of telephone deceptions are students and Mainlanders residing in Hong Kong. The Crime Prevention Bureau (CPB) of the Hong Kong Police Force will strength the publicity and education for students about avoiding deceptions during the new school year. It will also remind the public that in the event if someone claims to be a law enforcement official or staff form other organisations, they should verify the identity of the caller and must not disclose any personal / bank information to strangers or deposit any money into the account of strangers
  • Our Association appeals to Money Service Operator (MSO) practitioners that when they notice customers are expressing paranoid or panic and remitting larger amounts of cash into bank accounts in Mainland, they should remind him or her not to fall into the traps of fraudsters.

July 2017

11th
  • Monetary Authority of Macau has implemented the application of “Know Your Customer” (KYC) function on the withdrawal services, so as to protect the legal rights of financial institutions and the Mainland China China UnionPay (CUP) cardholders and to ensure the validity of the use of under this controlling measures on the withdrawal services of Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) in Macau. The Mainland China CUP cardholders can only utilise the withdrawal services via the ATMs with the label “KYC ATM”.
  • Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is also exploring the feasibility, robustness, costs and benefits of different technologies including, facial recognition, amongst other forms of biometrical authentications, in order to enhance the overall security of the banking system.
  • Our Association appeals to all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) to pay attention to the market changes, allocate adequate resources on the KYC procedures and provide staff training, and to avoid the commission of offence under the Chapter 615, Laws of Hong Kong and “Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)”.

June 2017

26th
  • According to the requirements of the “Money Changers Ordinance” and the “Trade Descriptions Ordinance”, licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) must pay attention to the display of rates of exchange, for example, displaying on the board the net rate of exchange which is least favourable to the customer and may offer a net rate of exchange that is not shown on the board if the offered rate is more favourable to a customer
  • Our Association appeals to licensed MSOs to avoid “Misleading Omissions” such as
    • Not specifying rate of exchange only applies to transactions with amount exceeding HKD1 million; or
    • Not specifying the currency for exchange, etc.
21st
  • Our Association has released the latest issue of the Members’ Circular to all members. The issue includes HKC&ED News, Enforcement News and recent information relevant to licensed MSOs.
12th
  • On 5 June 2017, the Money Service Supervision Bureau (MSSB) of Customs and Excise Department had been moved to Units 1218 – 1222, 12/F, Nan Fung Commercial Centre, 19 Lam Lok Street, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon. For enquiry, please call the MSSB at (852) 2707 7837 or by fax (852) 2707 7838.
9th
  • Hong Kong Custom and Excise Department (HKC&ED) has issued an enforcement news to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) with regard to a recent case of MSO convicted of operating without licence. Our Association reminds licensed MSOs of the following highlights:
    • Anyone who wishes to operate money remittance and/or money changing services must apply to HKC&ED for a licence
    • Licence renewal applications needs to be submitted at least 45 days prior to the expiry of licence
    • For new licence applications, the operation of money service business is only allowed to start after the licence has been officially issued by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE)
    • Licensed MSOs can submit the relevant applications online. For further details, please refer to the Guidance NotesOnline Demonstration and Form relating to licence renewal applications.
  • Our Association reminds all MSOs that theymust comply with statutory requirements.Operating money services without licence commits an offence. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for six months and a fine of HK$100,000
5th
  • Our Association attended the “Anti-Money Laundering Seminar” held by the Hong Kong Custom and Excise Department (HKC&ED) on 25th May, 2017. Topics of the seminar include Customer Due Diligence (CDD), Ongoing Monitoring, Identifying Irregular Activities, Licence Renewal Application, Guidelines for Transaction Record Keeping, Licensing Guide, Enforcement News and Trade Description Ordinance. Highlights of the seminar include:
    • Questioning about suspicious remittance: Asking if there was someone claiming to be a law enforcement official or staff from bank or delivery company and requesting the remitter to transfer funds to bank account belonging to other persons. Advice should be given to the customer to raise their awareness against deceptions and take the initiative to report the case
    • Recording transaction records of customers: Keeping transaction records of customers in a systematic manner, filing the customer records obtained throughout the CDD procedures in appropriate orders for easy reference or filing the customer records in a computer system, for the use of monitoring suspicious activities and ensuring the completeness of the information

May 2017

19th
  • With the training of all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs), front-line staff have once again successfully intercepted the occurrence of telephone deceptions and save the victims from suffering loss. Our Association would like to thank MSOs for their cooperation and efforts. As long as all MSOs and front-line staff raise and strengthen their vigilance and alertness towards telephone deceptions and thoroughly understand the modus operandi of crime, the occurrence of telephone deception cases can be reduced by the joint force
  • According to recent newspaper reports, the age of victims of telephone deceptions has a tendency of getting increasingly younger. Half of the victims are under the age of 30. With reference to this, the Crime Prevention Bureau (CPB) of the Hong Kong Police Force has published a leaflet regrading caution to telephone deception, in order to remind the public that in the event if someone claims to be a law enforcement official or staff form other organization, they should verify the identity of the caller and must not disclose any personal / bank information to strangers or deposit any money into the account of strangers
2nd
  • The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department will be organising Seminars for Money Service Operators (MSOs) on 25 May (Cantonese) and 26 May (English) respectively at the Auditorium, 13/F, Customs Headquarters Building, 222 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong. The contents of the Seminar are as follows:
    • Strengthening the participants’ cognition on the MSO licensing requirements and their statutory obligations
    • Updating the participants on the latest development of the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorist Financing Mutual Evaluations
    • Briefing the participants on the unfair trading sections under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance
  • Our Association encourages MSOs to proactively attend the captioned seminar so as to enhance their understanding of the relevant legislation and guidelines

April 2017

20th
  • The Crime Prevention Bureau (CPB) of the Hong Kong Police Force conveys, through our Association, to all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) about the recent increase in the number of telephone deception cases. Swindlers pretended to be officials of Immigration Department / mainland officials / staff of courier companies claiming that victims have committed serious crime and victims are requested to provide several personal information, or asking victims to transfer money to designated mainland bank accounts at money exchange shops
  • Our Association reminds all licensed MSOs to raise and strengthen their vigilance and alertness towards telephone deceptions and to understand the modus operandi of crime. They should also perform the “Screen”, “Ask”, “Find”, “Evaluate” to customers so as to identify victims and relevant suspicious transactions as early as practicable and report immediately to the police officers and help to reduce the occurrence of deceptions
19th
  • The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) has issued a circular to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) with regard to a recent increase in the number of conviction cases of MSOs breaching the Customer Due Diligence and Record-Keeping requirements. Our Association reminds licensed MSOs to implement the following highlights
  • Duty to Keep Records
    • Records that required to be kept must be kept for a period of 6 years beginning on the date on which the transaction is completed, regardless of whether the business relationship ends during that period
    • must be kept throughout the continuance of the business relationship with the customer and for a period of 6 years beginning on the date on which the business relationship ends
  • Manner in which Records are to be Kept
    • The Record Documents that required to be kept must be in original forms; or
    • a copy of the document must be kept either on microfilm or in the database of a computer
  • The Customs and Excise Department reminds all licensed MSOs to comply with the customer due diligence and record-keeping requirements as stipulated in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (“AMLO”) which came into effect on April 1, 2012. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for seven years and a fine of $1,000,000.
  • Our Association reminds all licensed MSOs that they must comply with the Customer Due Diligence and Record-Keeping requirements.
13th
6th
  • The Customer Due Diligence course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held successfully. The course instructors explained and analysed in details the requirements and importance of customer due diligence so as to enhance attendants’ understanding on the relevant statutory regulations, rules and guidelines. Our Association will continue to devote our efforts in organising relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations. We are thankful for the full support from the instructors, Mr. Tse and Mr. Chan, all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs), PEAK and THX Holding (HK) Limited.

March 2017

22nd
  • Anti-Money Laundering Cantonese course jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment
  • Our Association has disseminated the course flyers to Money Service Operators (MSOs) by post
  • The topic of this course is “Customer Due Diligence
    • Date: 2017-03-30 (Thursday)
    • Time: 7:00-9:30 pm (2.5 hours)
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Fee: HK$480 or HK$380
  • The course only costs MSOA member HK$380 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. Our Association encourages licensed MSOs to attend this course so as to deepen their understanding of the importance of Customer Due Diligence
21st
  • According to the regulations, Money Service Operators (MSOs) are required to submit the application for MSO licence renewal 45 days prior to the expiry of licence. Unless the application is rejected or suspended, the licence will remain valid until it is approved to be renewed. However, financial partners of some licensed MSOs may require a valid licence. In view of this, our Association reflected this view of MSOs to the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) and the views have been accepted.
  • HKC&ED has added the form "Application for Certificate of Licensee from the Register of Money Service Operator Licensees" online for the applications from MSOs. During the period when a licensee has submitted the application for licence renewal and the new licence has not yet been issued, the licensee can submit the relevant application form to the HKC&ED with the required application fee in order to apply for the use of certificate of a licensee when waiting for the new licence.
16th
  • Our Association has released the latest issue of the Members' Circular to all members. This issue includes our coming Anti-Money Laundering course (Cantonese), Industry Sharing, Enforcement News and recent information relevant to licensed MSOs. For any enquiries, please call our hotline at 3176 2004.

February 2017

21st
  • The Anti-Money Laundering course on Customer Due Diligence jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held successfully will be held on 30 March 2017, Thursday night.
  • Our Association encourages Money Service Operators (MSOs) to proactively participate in the course to deepen their understanding on the importance of customer due diligence. Those who completed the course will be awarded a course certificate issued by Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK).
1st
  • The Security Bureau of the Government of the HKSAR has recently launched a public consultation on Proposed Amendments to the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance (Cap.575)
  • As Hong Kong has the responsibility to fulfil the United Nations Security Council Resolution passed in September 2014 and respond to the shortcoming in Hong Kong Counter-Financing of Terrorism mechanism as identified by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). A gist of the proposal is:
    • To prohibit a Hong Kong permanent resident from entering or attempting to enter other State for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or providing or receiving of terrorist training
    • To prohibit a person in the HKSAR and a person outside the HKSRA who is a Hong Kong permanent resident or a body incorporated or constituted under the law of the HKSAR from the provision or collection, by any means, directly or indirectly, of property knowing or with the intention that the property will be used, or is planned to be used, in whole or in part, for the purpose of financing the travel of individuals to other State for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in, terrorist acts or providing or receiving of terrorist training
  • If licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) would like to provide their views towards this public consultation, please submit on or before 3 March 2017 by any one of the following means:
    By mail to: Security Bureau 10th Floor, East Wing, Central Government Offices 2 Tim Mei Avenue, Tamar, Hong Kong
    By fax to: 2524 3762
    By email to: unatmo_consult@sb.gov.hk

January 2017

21st
  • “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 30 March 2017 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
  • Programme Objectives:
  • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
  • Raises practitioners' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators. The course only costs MSOA member HK$380 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer.
20th
  • The Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held successfully. The course instructors explained and analysed in details the requirements and importance of ongoing monitoring so as to enhance attendants’ understanding on the relevant statutory regulations, rules and guidelines. Our Association will continue to devote our efforts in organising relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations. We are thankful for the full support from the instructors, Mr. Tse and Mr. Jimlian Chan, all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs), PEAK and LexisNexis.
13th
  • Following the previous Law Enforcement, Licensing and Licence Renewal and Imposition of MSO Licensing Conditions sections, we now further share to all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) the other highlight sections from our meeting with the Money Service Supervision Bureau (MSSB) of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED). This week, we are sharing the Training section.
  • Training:
    • The Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE) considers that imposition of MSO licensing conditions is a necessary and appropriate measure to effectively supervise the money service operations of MSOs
    • The CCE may require the owner or specified person(s) to attend continuous training and management courses and complete specified training hours within specified period. Continuous training includes seminars regarding anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing or related courses organised by HKC&ED , Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau or other training institutions. Reference of management courses can be made by the courses provided by recognised local educational institutions
    • Our Association reminds all licensed MSOs that they should regularly search for the updated relevant information. Continuous training is crucial to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing activities. Effective training enhances the understanding of and the practical compliance with relevant statutory and supervisory regulations
9th
6th
  • Following the previous Law Enforcement and Licensing and Licence Renewal sections, we now further share to all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) the other highlight sections from our meeting with the Money Service Supervision Bureau (MSSB) of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED). This week, we are sharing the imposition of MSO licensing conditions section.
  • Imposition of MSO Licensing Conditions:
    • If the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE) imposes new licensing condition to licensed MSOs, the licensee will be informed the relevant conditions by notice in writing upon the licence renewal and will require the person in charge to sign a collection confirmation letter to confirm the understanding of the relevant conditions.
  • Licensing Conditions include (but not limited to):
    • The CCE may require the owner or specified person(s) to attend continuous training and management courses and complete specified training hours within specified period, and also notify and submit the relevant records in writing.
    • The CCE may also require MSOs to submit “Return on Single Transaction Exceeding a Certain Amount” reporting the transaction return in a month. Licensees are required to submit the Return monthly. Regardless of whether there is any transaction in a month, the Return is required to be submitted within one week after end of every month.

2016

December 2016

30th
  • Following the “Law Enforcement” section published in the events last Friday, we now further share to all Money Service Operators (MSOs) the other highlight sections from our meeting with the Money Service Supervision Bureau (MSSB) of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED). This week, we are sharing the points to note on licensing and licence renewal.
  • Licensing and Licence Renewal:
    • Money Service Operators are required to renew the MSO licence not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire and submit the application for renewal (Form 2) together with the fit and proper person declaration forms and photo copies of requisite documents. Our Association encourages licensed MSO to submit the application online. For more details, please refer to Guidance Notes, Online Demonstration and Form relevant to licence renewal application
    • A licensee’s Partners, Directors, Ultimate Owners or its representatives are required to submit Form 3A and honestly report all particulars of criminal conviction records. Besides, please note that the spent convictions under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 297) are also required to be reported to HKC&ED
    • When a person propose to become a licensee’s Director, Ultimate Owner or Partner, a licensee needs to seek prior approval from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE). Unless the Commissioner has given his or her approval in writing, a person must not become a Director, Ultimate Owner or Partner. Offenders are liable on conviction to a fine of HK$50,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months.
23rd
  • Our Association has recently met with the Money Service Supervision Bureau (MSSB) of Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) in understanding and exploring recent matters relevant to licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs). Our Association has divided the highlights into several sections and we hope that licensed MSOs keep in view and comply with relevant regulations and guidelines:
  • Law Enforcement:
    • Regarding new licence application, submission of the application for MSO licence does not mean the operation of money service business is allowed to start. The licence must be officially issued by the Commissioner of Customs and Excise.
    • If there is addition of bank account(s) used for operating money service, HKCE&ED must be notified of the effective date of the change, account name, bank name, account number and other relevant information
    • All licensed money service operators must comply with the customer due diligence and record-keeping requirements as stipulated in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. Relevant records should be provided upon HKC&ED inspections and requests. There were MSOs being accused for failing to comply with customer due diligence in accordance with the relevant statutory requirements. The maximum penalty on conviction is imprisonment for seven years and a fine of HK$1,000,000.
19th
  • The Anti-Money Laundering Course, jointly organized by our Association and the Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK), is opened for enrollment now. Our Association has sent the course flyers by post to licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs).
  • Course Outlines:
    • Brief introduction to Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
    • Definition of Ongoing Monitoring and kinds of relevant measures to be taken
    • How to use different risk-based approaches to monitor customers
    • Understand customer background check tools
    • Why to identify a suspicion and to make a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR)"SAFE" Method
    • Reviews and procedures to be conducted on customer business relationship when filing a report to the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit (JFIU)
    • How to coordinate with Money Laundering Reporting Officer in order to submit a STR
    • Discuss case studies in relation to Ongoing Monitoring
    • Date: 19 January 2017 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 - 21:30 (2.5 hours)
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Fee: HK$480 / HK$380
  • The course only costs MSOA member HK$380 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. Our Association encourages MSOs to attend the course to deepen their understanding on the importance of ongoing monitoring.
14th
  • Our Association has written to the Hong Kong Consulate General of India for following up the high-level inter-ministerial committee in the issue of demonetisation of certain rupee. All money service operators should keep in view and our Association will provide update when there is latest relevant information.
13th
  • Our Association has released the latest issue of the Members' Circular to all members. This issue includes our coming Anti-Money Laundering course (Cantonese), Currency News, Enforcement News and recent information relevant to licensed MSOs. For any enquiries, please call our hotline at 3176 2004.

November 2016

29th
  • The Hong Kong Consulate General of India has responded that regarding the demonetised Rupee banknotes, a high-level inter-ministerial committee has been formed in exploring the matter. Further updates will be provided when the committee has come up with the relevant recommendations. Our Association suggests all licensed Money Services Operators (MSOs) to keep in view of the latest updates of the issue.
22nd
  • As the Government of India has recently announced the demonetisation of certain Rupee banknotes, our Association has written to the Hong Kong Consulate General of India today in hoping the Government of India can offer assistance to licensed Money Service Operators.
14th
  • On 8 November 2016 (Indian local time), the Government of India announced the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 Rupee banknotes as well as the issuance of new 500 and 2,000 Rupee banknotes. If an individual deposits a large amount of notes into banks, he or she will become the subject of investigation by the tax department of India.
  • Licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) possessing the old Rupee banknotes can contact our Association at 3176 2004 or email info@msoa.hk for assistance.
10th
  • There have been several recent telephone deception cases. The defrauded targets were mainly elderlies. Victims were asked to transfer money to designated mainland bank accounts at money exchange shops. Fortunately, the staff of the money exchange shops have seen through many of the telephone deception cases and have managed to save victims from falling into the scams.
  • Accordingly, our Association reminds all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) to raise their alertness and perform the “Screen”, “Ask”, “Find”, “Evaluate” so as to avoid or reduce the occurrence of crime.
4th
  • To strengthen public confidence in using Stored Value Facilities (SVF) products and services and facilitate the developments and innovations in the local retail payment industry, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has implemented the SVF supervisory regime. HKMA announced on 4 November 2016 the issuance of the second batch of SVF Licences under the Payment Systems and Stored Value Facilities Ordinance. Following the first batch licence issuance, the SVF Licensees has increased from 5 to 13.
  • Our Association encourages money service practitioners to strengthen their knowledge of SVF and relevant ordinance and learn about the latest development of the financial payment industry at all times
1st
  • There have been cases of the public receiving calls from swindlers pretending to be officials of department of Hong Kong / mainland officials / staff of courier companies in recent months. Those calls were connected to pre-recorded voice messages in Cantonese and Mandarin, and forwarded to swindlers saying victims that they have committed serious crime and they are requested to provide several personal information. The Crime Prevention Bureau (CPB) of the Hong Kong Police Force therefore announces the latest advice relevant to telephone deception cases.
  • Our Association expects all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) to enhance their awareness of telephone deception cases and their understanding on the modus operandi of crime, and hence help combating and/or reducing the occurrence of relevant crime.

October 2016

21st
  • According to the HKC&ED regulation, licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) are required to submit a quarterly transaction report within 14 days after 3 months of the licence effective date, and thereafter submit the report every 3 months. Our Association reminds all MSOs in submitting the transaction reports on time.
17th
  • “Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows
    • Date: 19 January 2017 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of Ongoing Monitoring, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators
  • The course only costs MSOA member HK$380 per person. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer.
14th
  • The Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies course (English) jointly organised by our Association and PEAK was held successfully. Our course instructor explained and analysed in details the requirements and importance of customer due diligence so as to enhance attendants’ understanding on the relevant statutory regulations, rules and guidelines. Our Association will continue to devote our efforts in organising relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the full support from the instructor, Mr. Dheeraj Bajpai, all licensed MSOs, PEAK and LexisNexis.

September 2016

13th
  • The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has issued a Circular on “De-risking and Financial Inclusion” to banks. The Circular points out the current practice that banks declining or discontinuing business relationships with high-risk customers to avoid, rather than manage, the risk involved. It is suggested that banks should adopt the risk-based approach (RBA) in relation to Customer Due-Diligence (CDD). As HKMA stated, RBA does not require or expect “zero failure”. Our Association considers that the existing practices of banks influence the business operation of Money Service Operators (MSOs) to a great extent. According to the reminder of HKMA, banks should clearly set out the information and documentation requirements for CDD purposes so as to enhance the transparency of account opening processes.
7th
  • Our Association has released the latest issue of the Members' Circular to all members. This issue includes our "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies" course (English), Hong Kong Police Force Crime Prevention News and recent information relevant to licensed MSOs. For any enquiries, please call our hotline at 3176 2004.
2nd
  • The Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department is organising Seminars for Money Service Operators and now invites Money Service Operators (MSOs) to attend Anti-Money Laundering Seminar (Cantonese & English). Details of the Seminars are as follows:
    • Purpose of Seminars:
      • Allowing participants to understand the international and local trends and development on Ant-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorists Financing;
      • Exploring the vulnerability of MSOs in Telephone Deception Cases;
      • Enhancing participants’ understanding on the statutory duty and obligation of Suspicious Transaction Reporting; and
      • Raising participants’ awareness towards licensing requirements of the MSO Licence and the importance of an effective risk identification and ongoing monitoring
    • Venue: Lecture Hall, 1/F, Hong Kong Science Museum, 2 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon
    • Date and Time:
      • Cantonese: 23 September 2016 (Friday) 14:00 – 17:00
      • Cantonese: 26 September 2016 (Monday) 09:30 – 12:30
      • English: 26 September 2016 (Monday) 14:00 – 17:00
    • * Application Deadline: 16 September 2016
  • Our Association encourages MSOs to attend these Seminars to deepen their understanding on vulnerability of the industry and raise their awareness towards licensing requirements of the MSO Licence and the importance of an effective risk identification and ongoing monitoring

August 2016

25th
  • The Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) would like to invite Money Service practitioners to attend a Cyber Security Seminar (Cantonese). The Seminar aims to enhance the attendants’ knowledge and awareness on targeted email attacks and email security. The Seminar will cover the areas of the Overall Situation and Assessment on Targeted Email Attacks, Technical Demonstrations on Targeted Email Attacks and Technical Advice and Security Measures. Details of the Seminar are as follows:
    • Date: 29th August 2016 (Monday)
    • Time: 2:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
    • Venue: Multi-purpose Hall, 10/F Arsenal House, 1 Arsenal Street, Police Headquarters, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
    • Fee: Free
    • Registration: Email the following details to csd-cstcb-col-1-office@police.gov.hk
      • Name:
      • Company Name:
      • Company Name:
      • Email Address:
  • Our Association encourages licensed Money Service Operators to attend this Seminar in order to enhance their understanding on information and cyber security.
17th
  • Our Association attended the “Mitigating Crime Seminar for Money Service Operators” held by the Crime Prevention Bureau (CPB) of Hong Kong Police Force to understand and examine the recent criminal cases relating to Money Service Operators (MSOs), the relevant trends and suggestions to prevent the occurrence of crime. The particular key points are as follows:
    • Premises Layout, Design and Security Devices
      • Safes with a time lock to store cash and other valuables
      • Signage advertising controls such as “Security cameras in use” to deter thieves
      • Good lighting both inside and outside the premises
      • Raise flooring to allow employees clear views
    • Safe Work Procedures - Handling Money
      • Make sure cash handling areas are located away from entrances and exits
      • Remove cash from teller drawers when it reaches a predetermined amount
      • Place large amounts in drop boxes, safes, or strong rooms that are out of sight
      • Ensure that employees comply with guidelines when making bank deposits, such as:
        • Avoid making bank deposits at nights
        • Vary the time and route for making deposits
        • Do not carry money in bags that make it obvious of carrying cash or that are marked with the company logo
        • Make deposits with a co-worker, if possible
    • Working Alone Procedures - Working Alone
      • Arrange someone to check the well-being of staff at specific time intervals during the shift
      • Devise an action plan when employee cannot be contacted or does not phone in at appropriate time
      • Watch out for anyone who is loitering around the premises
      • Ensure that emergency contact numbers are easily accessible (next to phones or saved in phones)
      • Do not leave back doors open and unattended
      • Stay alert and call the police if you see any suspicious activity or people
  • Our Association suggests to licensed MSOs that they should thoroughly study the Crime Prevention Tips for MSOs advised by the Hong Kong Police Force and make appropriate arrangements
9th
  • The Crime Presentation Bureau (CPB) of the Hong Kong Police Force would like to invite Money Service practitioners to attend a seminar on mitigating crime affecting MSO businesses for Licensed MSOs (Cantonese).
    The seminar aims to provide attendees with money exchange shop related crime, trends and crime prevention information and advice, to open a liaison channel between the police and Licensed MSOs, and to identify and share steps that mitigate crime trends affecting MSO businesses. The details of the seminar are as follows:
    • Date: 16 August 2016 (Tuesday)
    • Venue: The Police Headquarters, WanChai
    • Seats: 1 representative per company
    • Enrolment: Email the following details to ip-sip-sa-cpb@police.gov.hk with attention of Mr. Peter WOO SIP SA CPB:
      • Name:
      • Company:
      • Position:
      • Email:
      • Contact telephone number:
      • Fax number:
  • *The exact Date and Venue of the meeting would be confirmed by the CPB after collecting number of participants
    Our Association encourages licensed MSOA to proactively participate in the event and help mitigating crime and protecting their own safety
1st
  • “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (English) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows
    • Date: 13 Octcber 2016 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:00 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in English
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators
  • The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer.

July 2016

29th
  • The "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and PEAK was held successfully. Our course instructor explained and analysed in details the rules and guidelines of relevant statutory regulations so as to raise the compliance level of MSOs. Our Association will continue to devote our efforts in organising relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the full support from all licensed PEAK, and Thomson Reuters
21st
  • With reference to the several recent criminal cases targeting Money Service Operators (MSOs), the Crime Prevention Bureau (CPB) of the Hong Kong Police Force would like to invite money service practitioners to attend a seminar on mitigating crime affecting MSO businesses for Licensed MSOs
    The seminar aims to provide attendees with money exchange shop related crime, trends and crime prevention information and advice, to open a liaison channel between the police and Licensed MSOs, and to identify and share steps that mitigate crime trends affecting MSO businesses. The details of the seminar are as follows:
    • Date: 1st week of August 2016 (tentatively)
    • Venue: The Police Headquarters, WanChai
    • Seats: 1 representative per company
    • Enrolment: Email the following details to ip-sip-sa-cpb@police.gov.hk with attention of Mr. Peter WOO SIP SA CPB:
      • Name:
      • Company:
      • Position:
      • Email:
      • Contact telephone number:
      • Fax number:
  • *The exact Date and Venue of the meeting would be confirmed by the CPB after collecting number of participants
    Our Association encourages licensed MSOA to proactively participate in the event and help mitigating crime and protecting their own safety
14th
  • With reference to the recent criminal cases involving Money Service Operators (MSOs), our Association has written to the Hong Kong Police Force to appeal for their safeguarding of the lives and properties of Hong Kong residents and the safety of licensed MSOs running business in Hong Kong. Our Association urges them to bring culprits and offenders to justice as soon as possible and provide more patrols for preventing the crime targeting MSOs.
12th
  • Course flyer and application form of the Anti-Money Laundering Course for Money Service Operators “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” co-organised by our Association and Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK) have been mailed to all licenced MSOs. The course will be held at VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, on 28 July 2016. All individuals participating in the Money Service industry and other relevant individuals are welcome to attend the course.
    The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more details or any queries, please visit our website or call our hotline at 3176 2004.
4th

June 2016

24th
  • “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows
    • Date: 28 July 2016 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators
    • The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters
13th
  • With reference to the recent deception cases involving opening bank accounts with counterfeit identity cards. Our Association appeals to all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) to strictly perform Customer Due Diligence and account opening procedures, require customers to open accounts in person, and remind frontline staff to implement Anti-Money Laundering policy and procedures.
6th
  • The recent newspapers have reported articles of another robbery involving considerable amount of cash at a money charger due to the surveillance issue. Therefore, our Association reminds all licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) that they should improve the security measures and premise facilities, including:
    • installing Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) and connecting it to the alarm system of security companies;
    • from time to time changing the routes for operating business and avoiding carrying business funds at fixed time as the daily operations of MSOs usually involved a large amount of cash storage, delivery and transport. This will prevent criminals from ambushing and robbing; and
    • considering purchasing Money Insurance to avoid the property loss due to the occurrences of crime or accidents
3th
  • Attended the “Anti-Money Laundering Seminar” held by the HKC&ED on 26th May, 2016. Topics of the seminar include customer due diligence (“CDD”), ongoing monitoring, identifying irregular activities, definition of politically exposed person (“PEP”), application for renewal of licence, staff screening, licensing guide, enforcement news, Trade Description Ordinance. Highlights of the seminar include:
    • Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF): FTAF will conduct the on-site visit of the 4th round of Mutual Evaluation of Hong Kong in 2018. As part of the financial sector of Hong Kong, all licensed MSOs should fully cooperate in the evaluation performed by the international organization against Hong Kong, especially on the effectiveness of risk assessment in relation to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. The relevant evaluation will affect the status of Hong Kong being a Financial Centre
    • Record-keeping of customer records in a systematic manner: Filing the customer records obtained throughout the CDD procedures in appropriate orders for easy reference or filing the customer records in a computer system
    • Staff training is an important element of an effective system to prevent and detect Money Laundering/Terrorist Financing activities.

May 2016

5th
  • The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department will be organising Seminars for Money Service Operators (MSOs) on 26 May (Cantonese) and 27 May (English) respectively at the Auditorium, 15/F, Customs Headquarters Building, 222 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong. The contents of the Seminar are as follows:
    • Strengthening the participants’ cognition on the MSO licensing requirements and their statutory obligations
    • Updating the participants on the latest development of the Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorist Financing Mutual Evaluations
    • Briefing the participants on the unfair trading sections under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance
    • Our Association encourages MSOs to proactively attend the captioned seminar so as to enhance their understanding of the relevant legislation and guidelines
4th
3rd
  • “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is now open for enrollment (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows
    • Date: 28 July 2016 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to an increase in compliance standard of Money Service Operators
    • The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters

April 2016

28th
  • The "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and PEAK was held successfully. Our course instructor explained and analysed in details the rules and guidelines of relevant statutory regulations so as to raise the compliance level of MSOs. Our Association will continue to devote our efforts in organising relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the full support from all licensed MSOs, PEAK, HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters
18th
  • Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 28 April 2016 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 22:00
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of ongoing monitoring, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters
12th
11th
8th
  • The Hong Kong Custom and Excise Department (HKC&ED) has published the “Disciplinary Action Guidelines as to the Imposition of a Pecuniary Penalty” on 8th April 2016. The Commissioner of Customs and Excise may, amongst other disciplinary actions, impose a pecuniary penalty on a person licensed to operate a money service. The HKC&ED has published the “Disciplinary Fining Guideline” as early as June 2012. Our Association appeals all Licensed Money Service Operators to pay attention to and strictly comply with the statutory requirement

March 2016

29th
  • The Security Bureau has introduced the “Safeguard HK” Mobile App. The App is a one-stop platform providing useful information on safeguarding life and property in daily lives and while travelling, including information on controlled and prohibited articles for export and import, information on prevalent crime and scam prevention advice, etc.
26th
  • The Chief Executive Office of our Association has recently been telephone interviewed by the Cable TV Hong Kong on providing money changing transaction note. In fact, the “Money Changers Ordinance”, Chapter 34, Laws of Hong Kong clearly sets out the relevant requirement. Please refer to the Legislation and FAQ (Money Changers Ordinance) web pages.
14th
  • The Government established the Steering Group on Financial Technologies (“Steering Group”) in April 2015 to advise on how to develop Hong Kong into and promote Hong Kong as a Fintech hub and published the Steering Group’s report to present its analysis and recommendations on 26 February 2016.
  • Fintech refers to the application of information and communication technology (“ICT”) in the field of financial services, including such areas as digital payment and remittance, financial product investment and distribution platforms, etc. The Report pointed out that estimated market size of remittance influenced by Fintech was up to USD 440 billion in 2015.
  • The free operation of market forces under a well-established legal framework is one of the factors that make Hong Kong thrive. A case-in-point is the new legislation for payment services enacted in November 2015 which provides a legal framework to regulate stored value facilities and retail payment systems in Hong Kong. As at 25 November 2015, HKMA has met with 26 prospective applicants which indicated interests to HKMA in applying for a licence under the new regime. Twelve among the 26 prospective applicants, which include telecommunication firms, e-commerce companies and startups, have already begun the issue and operation of stored value facilities in Hong Kong.
  • Our Association suggests licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) proactively keep abreast of the emerging trend of Fintech. In addition, in the case of any payment platforms involving the money service industry, please look up the related legislations and apply for the relevant licence.

February 2016

26th
  • Our Association has met with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) to understand and discuss recent issues related to licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs). Discussion addressed the followings:
  • FATF will conduct the on-site visit of the 4th round of Mutual Evaluation of Hong Kong in 2018. As part of the financial sector of Hong Kong, all licensed MSOs should fully cooperate in the evaluation performed by the international organization against Hong Kong, especially on the effectiveness of risk assessment in relation to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. The relevant evaluation will affect the status of Hong Kong being a Financial Centre.
  • The HKC&ED reminds all MSOs that an application for licence renewal must be made within 90 days but not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire. MSOs must submit an application form and the required documentation for renewing their licences within the period, otherwise the licensees may need to apply for fresh new MSO licences. There were MSOs being convicted for operation after expiry of licence in the past (see HKC&ED Enforcement News 27 February 2015 - Money service operator convicted for operation after expiry of licence). Moreover, our Association suggests licensed MSOs may consider submitting the licence renewal application online. For further details, please refer to the relevant licence renewal application Guidance Notes, Online Demonstration and Form.
  • HKC&ED reminds licensed MSOs the statutory requirements of notifying the Commissioner on changes in particulars under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Chapter 615, Laws of Hong Kong. Prior Approval from the Commissioner is required on the following changes: Proposing persons to become licensee’s directors/ultimate owners/partners; Adding new business premises; and Applying to operate at particular premises. If there is any change in the particulars that are provided to the Commissioner in connection with a licensee’s application for the grant of licence or renewal of licence, the licensee must notify the Commissioner in writing of the change within one month beginning on the date on which the change takes place.
  • Regarding the submission of suspicious transactions reports (STRs), licensed MSOs should pay attention to red flags and the required specific format by the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit (JFIU), and follow contents in the designated forms when providing relevant information. This will help JFIU in executing the relevant investigations.
  • Regarding Continuous Professional Training, licensed MSOs and their staff should constantly enhance and study the relevant knowledge in management and Money Laundering in a proactive manner.
17th
  • In July 2002, Financial Services and The Treasury Bureau enacted the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance (Cap.575) and a substantive part of it came into operation in August the same year. The ordinance fully implements the mandatory elements of UNSCR 1373 and the more pressing FATF Special Recommendations. The ordinance clearly prohibits any person within Hong Kong from providing or collecting funds for terrorists, and requires disclosure of suspected terrorist property. The Bureau will update the terrorist lists in the gazette of specification of names of persons designated as terrorists or terrorist associates from time to time.
  • Our Association suggests Money Service Operators to regularly search for the updated relevant information and apply the terrorist lists in the compliance procedures including customer due diligence and ongoing monitoring so as to enhance the detection of irregular or suspicious financial activities.
5th
  • “Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held and is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 28 April 2016 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 22:00
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of Ongoing Monitoring, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters.

January 2016

29th
  • The "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies”course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and PEAK was held successfully. Our course instructor explained and analysed in details the rules and guidelines of relevant statutory regulations so as to raise the MSOs’ requirement and awareness towards ongoing monitoring. Also, it enabled participants to better understand how the compliance policies and measures can be efficiently implemented in their daily operations. Our Association will continue organize relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the support from all licensed MSOs, PEAK, HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters.
19th
  • The Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (HKC&ED) disseminated a Circular to Money Service Operators (MSOs) on 18 January, 2016 so as to remind MSOs the statutory requirements of notifying the Commissioner on changes in particulars under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Chapter 615 (“AMLO”):
  • Prior Approval from the Commissioner is Required:
    • Prior approval in writing must be obtained from the Commissioner on the following changes:
      • Proposing persons to become licensee’s directors/ultimate owners/partners;
      • Adding new business premises; and
      • Applying to operate at particular premises.
    • Licensee’s Duty to Notify Commissioner of Changes of Particulars:
      • If there is any change in the particulars that are provided to the Commissioner in connection with a licensee’s application for the grant of licence or renewal of licence, the licensee must notify the Commissioner in writing of the change within one month beginning on the date on which the change takes place.
      • If a licensee intends to cease to operate a money service or cease to operate a money service at any of the premises specified in the licence with effect from a particular date, the licensee must, before the date of cessation, notify the Commissioner in writing of that intention and the date of cessation; and return the licence to the Commissioner for cancellation or amendment within 7 days beginning on the date of cessation.
  • Our Association recommends that if MSOs need information of notification procedures on changes in particulars, they can make reference to Section VIII and IX of the Licensing Guide for MSOs or visit our page for reference of relevant laws, regulations and licensing requirements.
18th
  • Our Association has recently received queries from our members regarding letters disseminated by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED). The letters remind licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) that they need to, within a specified period, provide written notice and proof which satisfied the conditions imposed by the Commissioner of Customs & Excise (CCE) under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO), Chapter 615 of the Hong Kong Laws. The condition details are as follows:
    • Compliance Officer (or Management) of MSOs must complete 5 Continuous Professional Training (CPT) hours within a specified period. Professional Training includes seminars and relevant courses about Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML & CTF) held by HKC&ED, Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau or Training Bodies.
    • After completing 5 CPT hours within a specified period, licensed MSOs need to submit the relevant training record and notify HKC&ED in writing.
  • Our Association recommends MSOs join the AML course held by our Association and Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK). Through joining the course, MSOs can enhance their understanding towards relevant requirements imposed by the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators). Moreover, the certificates of completion can be used as supporting reference to HKC&ED for declaration and reporting purposes.
14th
6th
  • Our Association has been invited to the Cocktail reception for celebrating the 2016 International Customs Day (ICD) held by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department on 25th January 2016. Celebrating ICD has been an annual event of Hong Kong Customs since it became a member of the World Customs Organisation in 1987. This event aims at facilitating an inclusive approach for connecting stakeholders, nurturing a culture of compliance with the law, and customs-business partnership.

2015

December 2015

14th
  • Our Association has officially launched the “HKC&ED News – Enforcement News” page in order to help Licensed Money Service Operators (MSOs) better understand The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO), Chapter 615 of the Hong Kong Laws, including the duties of the Commissioner of Customs & Excise (CCE) in regulating MSOs and supervising licensed MSOs' compliance with the customer due diligence and record-keeping obligations and other licensing requirements, as well as combating unlicensed operation of money service.
11st
  • Money Service Operators (MSOs) need to submit applications to Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (HKC&ED) when there is any change in the registration particulars. According to page 8 of the seminar slide disseminated by the HKC&ED on 28th October, 2015, a licensee needs to obtain the approval from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (“CCE”) before implementing the following changes: (1) If any person(s) proposing to become Licensee’s Partners / Directors / Ultimate Owners (Form 4); (2) Adding new premises used for the operation of a Money Service (Form 5).
  • With reference to the licensing guide, the licensee must notify the CCE in writing of the change (Form 6) within one month beginning on the date on which the changes takes place. These changes include:
    • Change in Business / Corporation Name
      • Business / Corporation Name
      • Business / Branch Name
      • Nature of Money Service Business
      • Principal (Correspondence) Address
      • Contact Information
    • Change in Registration Particulars Business Premises
      • Business Premises Information
      • Telephone and Fax Number of Business Premises
      • Information of other Business Being run in the Business Premises
      • Occupants of Domestic Business Premises
    • Change in particulars of Licensee / Licensee’s Partners / Directors / Ultimate Owners
    • Change in Incoming / Outgoing Partners / Directors / Ultimate Owners
    • Change in “Fit and Proper Person” status of Licensee’s / Licensee’s Partners / Directors / Ultimate Owners
    • Deletion / Addition of Bank Account used for operating the Licensee’s Money Service
  • Our Association would like to suggest MSOs to study the relevant legislations and licensing requirements on our page. The breach of relevant requirement is subject to the imposition of disciplinary actions and maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000,000.The licensee may also be prosecuted and liable on conviction to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months.
7th
  • “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held and is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 28 January 2016 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 22:00
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters.

November 2015

25th
  • The People’s Bank of China has issued the 2015 Edition 100 yuan note as part of the fifth series of RMB notes starting from 12 November and the new notes have been rolled out in Hong Kong. Comparing to the 2005 Edition, the new edition 100 yuan note maintains the same size, principal graphic pattern on both sides, principal colours, issuer’s name (the People’s Bank of China) and National Emblem. There are only adjustments in some of the graphic patterns and enhancement in the overall anti-counterfeiting features. Our association reminds all licensed MSOs to thoroughly understand the anti-counterfeiting features, and communicate with note detector machines agents to carry out examination and upgrade on the anti-counterfeiting system to ensure the system is capable of recognising the newly issued RMB notes.
25th
17th
  • To keep up with the constantly changing commercial society, the job of management personnel of companies can be challenging. They are responsible for not only the daily operations, but also administrative duties and leading several departments.
  • Our association encourages MSOs to choose the continuing education courses based on their own needs at educational institutes, so that they can enhance their professional expertise and support the long-term development of their companies. Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) regularly organises Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme and other short courses. For those who are interested in the courses, please call 28361922 for queries. The course details are as follows:
11st
  • According to the recent news reports, there are various categories of deception. Deception cases associated with the use of dishonoured cheque occasionally occur and MSOs are potentially targeted by fraudsters. Fraudsters would ask MSOs to provide remittance service and their bank accounts for the purpose of online transfer. When MSOs view the “balance” shown on the online banking system has been credited, they will implement the remittance request and complete the transaction. On the next day, when MSOs log onto the online banking system again, they will realise fraudsters have used dishonoured cheque and discover the “actual available balance” has become less. Our association suggests MSOs take notice of the followings during their daily operations:
    • Pay attention to the receipt provided by customers and check if the payment method is by cheque
    • If customers claim they have made bank transfers, check carefully if the credited balance is “actual available balance”
5th
  • “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (English) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held and is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 3 December 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 22:00
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in English
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raises participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhances understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$350 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters.

October 2015

30th
  • The "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies”course (Cantonese) jointly organised by our Association and PEAK was held successfully. Our course instructor explained and analysed in details the rules and guidelines of relevant statutory regulations so as to raise the MSOs’ requirement and awareness towards ongoing monitoring. Also, it enabled participants to better understand how the compliance policies and measures can be efficiently implemented in their daily operations. Our Association will continue organize relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the support from all licensed MSOs, PEAK, HKMSOS and ACCUITY.
27th
  • In view of the recent news report regarding a robbery during the commute of a money changer which involved vast amount of cash, our Association would like to remind all Money Service Operators (MSOs) to constantly remain vigilant against theft during operations to reduce the occurrence of crime. Given that MSOs’ daily businesses usually involve massive cash savings, delivery and transport and the frequent occurrence of street robberies, our association recommends MSOs to consider Money Insurance policies to avoid property loss due to crime or accidents.
22nd
15th
  • Course flyer and application form of the Anti-Money Laundering Course for Money Service Operators - "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies course (Cantonese)" jointly held by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) have been mailed to all licensed MSOs and the course is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details of the course are as follows:
    • Date: 29 October 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aim to help money service operators better understand the requirements imposed by the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Ongoing Monitoring, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which result in an increase in compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$300 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discounts, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Accuity.
5th

September 2015

24th
  • Attended the “Anti-Money Laundering Seminar” jointly organized by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Hong Kong Police Force and the Customs and Excise Department. The seminar mainly examined 1) the overview of the latest international and domestic developments and trends on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing; 2) the vulnerability of the money service industry as shown in telephone deception cases; 3) enhance the understanding of the statutory obligations and practices of suspicious transaction reporting; and 4) the licensing requirements and key compliance issues under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. The highlights are as follows:
  • Besides “Guess Who” and “Detained Son” modus operandi used in telephone deception cases, most of the deception cases happening recently involve fraudsters calling and pretending to be staff of courier companies, alleging that the parcels under the victim's name contains illegal products and hence the victim has violated the PRC law. The telephone line would then be diverted to an accomplice who claims to be a law enforcement agent in the Mainland. There were other instances where fraudster would pretend to be other types of public officials and call victim using a pre-recorded voice message. The victim would receive an incoming call display showing the same phone number as a public office hotline and then be diverted to an accomplice of the fraudster. The accomplice would claim to be a law enforcement agent in the PRC, alleging the victim of being involved in money-laundering or other criminal activities. The accomplice would subsequently require the victim to remit monies to China, or transfer deposits from victim's Hong Kong account to his/her own mainland bank accounts through money exchange store. Fraudsters would then defraud victims' money via Internet banking. Our Association appeals to all licensed MSOs to fully cooperate in combating such scams. When dealing with remittance, please understand the reasons for the remittance in order to identify victims and relevant suspicious transactions at an early stage and immediately report to the Police Force to reduce the occurrence of such scams.
  • In relation to submission of Suspicious Transaction Reports ("STRs"), as of August 2015, licensed MSOs submitted a total 2,603 cases of suspicious transactions. The number of STRs submitted is showing an increasing trend from 2011 to 2015, reflecting an increased awareness of the industry in combatting money laundering. Our Association appeals to licensed MSOs to pay attention to red flags such as: (1) Unusually large cash transactions; (2) Significant increase in personal or business transactions without apparent reasons; (3) Multiple small amount transaction exchange or remittance of cash; (4) Resistance in providing basic information etc. MSOs should lodge report immediately if there is any doubt.
  • A licensee needs to obtain the approval from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (“CCE”) in advance for the following changes in MSO registration particulars: (1) If any person(s) proposing to become Licensee’s Partners / Directors / Ultimate Owners - Form 4; (2) Adding new premises used for the operation of a Money Service - Form 5
  • In the mutual evaluation 2018 conducted by the Financial Action Task Force ("FATF"), the FATF will focus on the effectiveness of the implementation of anti-money laundering policies an financial institutions site visits will be conducted by the FATF.Our Association appeals to all licensed MSOs to fully cooperate with the Customs and Excise Department and make relevant arrangements.
17th
  • There is a recent upsurge of victims falling prey to “Telephone Deception” and under the instruction of culprits remitting funds to Mainland or overseas through Money Service Operators (MSOs). To further effectively expand the coverage of suspected scams, Hong Kong Police Force – Commercial Crime Bureau (CCB) has delivered the relevant message to MSOs from the Scams Response Teams (SRTs) through our Association to tackle the emerging trend.
  • Our Association will disseminate the contact lists of regional Police Officers to members through Members’ Circular. MSOs can immediately report to the Police Force when they suspect transactions in relation to deception activities during their daily operations.
  • Our Association calls upon MSOs to facilitate the above effective mechanism and to advise members to handle the contact lists containing concerned officers’ personal contact details discreetly and with care.
1st
  • On 28 August 2015, the Customs and Excise Department introduce a mobile version of the Online Register of Licensees which enables the public to check information of the Money Service Operator Licensees through their mobile devices.

August 2015

31st
  • The Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department is going to organize seminars for Money Service Operators on 24 September 2015 (Cantonese Session), 25 September 2015 (English Session) and 9 October 2015 (Cantonese Session) in respect of the MSO licensing requirements and their statutory obligation. The objectives of the seminars are to provide participants with an overview of the latest international and domestic developments and trends on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing, and to discuss the vulnerability of your sector shown in the telephone deception cases, and to enhance participants' understanding of the statutory obligations and practices of suspicious transaction reporting and to draw participants' attention to the licensing requirements and key compliance issues under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institu tions) Ordinance. Please take this opportunity and sign up as soon as possible since seats are limited.
14th
  • According to the Circular to Money Service Operators sent by Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department on 14th August, 2015, there is an increasing number in telephone scams recently involving the use of different fraudulent tactics including swindlers posing as law enforcement officials, other authorities, bank or delivery company staff etc., asking victims to transfer money to an unknown account or recipient; deceiving or intimidating them into paying to help relatives out of trouble etc.
  • Directed against the above scams, MSOs should conduct customer due diligence measures before transactions, which include, but not limited to:
    • Identify transactions that are unusual
    • No apparent legitimate purpose
    • Inconsistent with the expected pattern of the customer
    • In certain circumstances, ask customers additional questions or take other measures to request customers to provide further clarification
  • Our association urges MSOs to be vigilant against being exploited by criminals or fraudsters. If there is any suspicious activity related to money laundering and terrorist financing on a customer, MSOs should be reported to the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit. In situations where other crimes, such as fraud, are perceived, you should report to the Hong Kong Police.
14th
  • HKC&ED would like to enhance their communication with the licensed MSOs. A small group discussion is organized and aims to convey the following below messages:
    • Enhance communication through the meeting; strengthen practitioners' understanding on the requirement of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance to help improve practitioners' management and avoid violating the law;
    • Review and make participants aware of the industry's compliant progress since the implementation of the self-regulatory system; and
    • Provide participants brief updates on the regulations relevant to the money services industry.
  • Our Association calls upon all licensed MSOs who are invited to the discussion to participate and voice out your opinions.
7th
  • Our Association was invited to attend the first consultation session of the money services industry in relation to “Establishment of a Reporting System on the Physical Cross-Boundary Transportation of Large Quantities of Currency and Bearer Negotiable Instruments” held by the Narcotics Division, Secretary Bureau. The main points of the session are as follows:
  • Introduced Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Recommendation 32 of the FATF’s 40 recommendations (R32). R32 requires member jurisdictions to establish by statute a system to detect the physical cross boundary transportation of currency and bearer negotiable instruments (CBNIs) (the “R32 System”)
  • The items that should be reported under an R32 System refer to “currency” and “bearer negotiable instruments”(BNIs)
    • Currency” is defined as banknotes and coins that are in circulation as a medium of exchange, and foreign currency which may be brought into a jurisdiction
    • BNIs include monetary or negotiable instruments in bearer form such as traveller cheques, cash cheques, promissory notes and money orders etc
  • Implementing either a declaration and/or disclosure system to detect both incoming and outgoing transportation of large quantities of CBNIs
    • Under a declaration system, persons are required to report to the designated competent authorities, commonly the customs authorities, proactively. Declarations can be done by either tendering a written declaration or making an oral declaration.
    • Under a disclosure system, there is no requirement for travellers to make an upfront written or oral report, but they should give a truthful answer to the competent authorities upon request.
  • MSOs should be aware that if there is overseas transaction of large quantities of currency, MSOs should confirm with the service provider whether it was sent through mail or exported by cargo as MSOs might need to report and/or declare under the latest system if CBNIs are exported by cargo
  • At present, Hong Kong is the only FATF member jurisdiction, among 34, which has yet to establish the R32 System. It will be one of the major foci of the fourth Mutual Evaluation on Hong Kong. Past experience suggested that major deficiencies in fulfilling FATF’s recommendations would result in a more intensive follow-up process and enhanced scrutiny by FATF, and would have a negative impact on Hong Kong’s reputation as an international financial centre.
  • Our Association urges MSOs to take the initiatives to express their views. Please send them to us by mail, facsimile or email within the consultation period, i.e. on or before 20 October 2015:
    • Address:
      Narcotics Division, Security Bureau
      30/F High Block, Queensway Government Offices
      66 Queensway Hong Kong
    • Fax No.: 2810 1773
    • E-mail Address: r32-consultation@sb.gov.hk
3rd
  • “Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held and is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 29 October 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Ongoing Monitoring, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$300 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS.

July 2015

31st
  • The "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and PEAK was held. Our course instructor explained in detail the importance of ongoing monitoring and the relevant requirements related to licensed MSOs. The course enabled participants to better understand how the compliance policies can be implemented in their daily operations. Our Association will continue organize relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the support from all licensed MSOs, PEAK, HKMSOS and Dow Jones.
29th
  • Today, HKCE released the Risk Assessment Questionnaire to all licensed MSOs. The aim of this risk assessment questionnaire is to collect information from the MSOs sector in order to assist the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (“CCE”) in conducting a comprehensive risk assessment of the sector in preparation for the next round of mutual evaluation of the anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism (“AML/CFT”) regime of Hong Kong by the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF"), an international AML/CFT standard setter. Besides, your effort and cooperation in this regard will help the CCE to calibrate and formulate strategies aiming at promoting the level of MSO sector in compliance with the statutory requirements under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Chapter 615 (“AMLO”), Laws of Hong Kong.
  • To facilitate the identification and assessment of the risks and vulnerabilities pertaining to MSOs from the overall sector perspective, the information requested covers the period from the operation of the AMLO on 1 April 2012 to 30 June 2015 inclusive. Please complete and return the questionnaire to HKCE through one of the following channels within 10 days upon receipt of the questionnaire:
    • By post:
      Money Service Supervision Bureau
      Customs and Excise Department
      13/F, Customs Headquarters Building
      222 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong
      • By fax : (852) 3759 3741 or (852) 3108 3425
      • By email : ra_assessment@customs.gov.hk
  • For enquiries, please contact the HKCE during office hours at the following telephone numbers:
    • (852) 3759 3720
    • (852) 3759 3723
    • (852) 3759 3742
23rd
22nd
20th
  • According to Chapter 9 - Staff Training of the "Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing", staff training is an important element of an effective system to prevent and detect ML/TF activities. The frequency of training should be sufficient to maintain the AML/CFT knowledge and competency of staff. Section 9.9 of the Guideline specifies that no matter which training approach is adopted, MSOs should monitor and maintain records of who have been trained, when the staff received the training and the type of the training provided. Records should be maintained for a minimum of 3 years.
  • Our Association will be holding a Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies course on 30th July (Thursday). We hope that Money Service Operators will encourage and arrange employees to participate. For more details, please refer to our course page.
15th
  • Money Service Operators’ businesses are easily targeted by gangsters due to massive cash savings, delivery and transport. Other than installing security system, Money Service Operators should consider purchasing "Money Insurance" offered by insurance companies in order to secure their business. Protection mainly includes (the following is only for reference only):
    • Money in the Premise(s) during business hours.
    • Money in the Premise(s) during non-business hours and secured in a locked safe or strongroom.
    • Money in the Premise(s) during non-business hours but not secured in a locked safe or strongroom.
    • Money in transit in the custody or charge of the Insured or his duly authorized employee(s).
    • Loss of or damage to safe(s) and/or strongroom(s) as a result of money being stolen etc.
  • Our Association hopes the above information is useful for MSOs to consider its business needs as well as cost involved. If MSOs are interested in the insurance mentioned above, please contact us for assistance in the communication with relevant insurance company.
7th
  • Course flyer and application form of the Anti-Money Laundering Course for Money Service Operators - "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies course (Cantonese)" have been mailed to all licensed MSOs and is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows: course jointly held by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK). Details of the course are as follows:
    • Date: 30 July 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$200 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Dow Jones.

June 2015

22nd
  • With respect to recent news that Hong Kong will set up cross border cash declaration system, our Association already held a meeting with the Narcotics Division, Security Bureau and the HKC&ED back in August 2013 to discuss about measures proposed above. Our Association will actively follow up with the public consultation of the related measures and we urge MSOs to proactively voice out their opinions during the consultation period.
15th
  • Much international attention has been paid in recent years to the money laundering risk associated with providing financial and business services to those with a prominent political profile or holding senior public office.
  • Based on the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance ("AMLO") ,All MSOs should take proper measures to identify whether any individual is a local or foreign politically exposed person. However, various MSOs reflected that they have faced difficulty when they tried to perform such identification.
  • Our Association suggests MSOs to consider purchasing internationally approved tools for background screening in order to effectively assess and determine whether the customer is a politically exposed person or a high risk individual or entity on sanctions list.

May 2015

29th
  • Attended the“Anti-Money Laundering Seminar”(Cantonese) held by the HKC&ED on 27th May, 2015, highlights include:
  • Continuing Professional Training:
    • Identifying irregular activities, including unusual settlements, payments or payment instructions etc.
    • Help employees identify situations where they might encounter suspicious transactions or when they should increase their awareness
    • Enhance employees’ knowledge on regulatory and supervisory requirements in relation to the anti-money laundering/ counter-terrorist financing systems
    • Supervise and manage staff, system review, conduct random checks, and responsibility toreport suspicious transaction to Financial Intelligence Unit
    • Our association has organized three courses with PEAK from last year onwards. We will be holding“Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) on 30th July, 2015 and the course is now open for application (The course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus)
  • Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF):
    • The 4th mutual evaluation on Hong Kong will be held in 2018, assessment will be focusing on the technical appropriateness and effectiveness of the implementation of anti-money laundering measures by related financial institutions.
    • To facilitate the above mutual evaluation, the HKC&ED will issue questionnaires to MSOs to collect feedback in relation to the effectiveness of risk assessments associated with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing. Our Association calls upon MSOs to prepare and reply the questionnaire.
  • Identify politically exposed persons (“PEP”):
    • Licensed MSOs should conduct a detailed background check before engaging in any transactions and activities. If the check reveals that the client is a PEP, a more stringent review should be conducted on various aspects including the source of wealth and fund, purpose of opening account et.. At the same time, approval of onboarding the PEP should be obtained from senior management, or termination of business relationship with the client should be considered.
    • In view of the international rising awareness of identifying PEP, our Association calls upon licensed MSOs to consider purchasing internationally acknowledged tools for background screening in order to effectively assess and determine whether the customer is a politically exposed person or a high risk individual or entity on sanctions list.
  • Others:
    • If MSOs would like to become a licensee’s partner / director / ultimate owner, licensee must obtain prior approval from the Commissioner of Customs and Excise and written notification must be sent to the Commissioner of Customs and Excise within one month from the date of data change
    • HKC&ED recommends licensed MSOs to handle and save customer data and transaction records by computer system as a more reliable measure
  • The Trade Descriptions (Unfair Trade Practices) (Amendment) Ordinance extends its coverage of the Trade Descriptions Ordinancewhere verbal offers made by MSOs during the business operations (verbal description) is now considered description of service (misleading omissions and false trade descriptions of services). MSO might have violated relevant legislation if the verbal offer and the final exchange rate are inconsistent
20th
  • Based on the recent survey conducted by the HKC&ED, most of the licensed MSOs reflected that they would like to enhance their communication with the Department. In view of this, the HKC&ED organized a small group discussion in order to help MSOs understand regulatory requirements laid out in the anti-money laundering regulations. Participants revealed that the following points were addressed:
    • Educational organizations to provide MSOs Anti-Money Laundering Courses*.
    • Continuing Processional Development (CPD) Program will soon be officially rolled out.
    • As financial organizations, all licensed MSOs have the responsibility to assist the FATF in conducting the AML/CTF assessment.
    • Any structural changes within MSOs that operate as companies must first be approved by the HKC&ED before proceeding to registration at the Company Registry.
    • All regulations under Chapter 615 Laws of Hong Kong will be fully implemented and enforcement is expected to be more rigorous in future.
    • Remittance of HK$8,000 or less also need to present proper identification ( e.g. HKID card and/or other valid travel document) and address proof to verify identify of customer.
    • It is safer for MSOs to keep their records in the form of microfilm or other electronic file format.
  • Our Association calls upon all licensed MSOs to not only pay attention to daily business operations, but also to conduct business that is compliant with the legal requirements and to strengthen the anti-money laundering training in order to be line with international standard.
  • *Our Association and PEAK have organized 3 relevant courses and will be co-organizing a Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies (Cantonese) course on 30 July 2015. Application is now open (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus), please refer to our course page for more details.
7th
  • “Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) was held and is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 30 July 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Taught in Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$200 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from HKMSOS and Dow Jones.
6th
  • The Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department is going to organize seminars for Money Service Operators on 27 May 2015 (Cantonese Session) and 29 May 2015 (English Session) in respect of the MSO licensing requirements and their statutory obligation. The objectives of the seminars are to help MSOs to fully appreciate the importance of an effective ongoing monitoring system and continuous professional training, and to understand the latest international developments on anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing as well as certain new provisions of prohibited unfair trade practices under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. Please take this opportunity and sign up as soon as possible since seats are limited.
4th
  • The "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies” course (Cantonese) jointly organized by our Association and PEAK was held. Our course instructor explained in detail the importance of ongoing monitoring and the relevant requirements related to licensed MSOs. The course enabled participants to better understand how the compliance policies can be implemented in their daily operations. Our Association will continue organize relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the support from all licensed MSOs, PEAK, HKMSOS and Thomson Reuters.

April 2015

20th
  • The "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies" course, co-organized by our Association and the Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK), which will be held on 30 April 2015 (Thursday) has reached capacity. We are thankful to all enthusiastic applicants for your support to the course. For those who are interested in related courses, please take note of our Association's course "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies" on 30 July 2015 (Thursday). Details of the course are as follows:
    • Date: 30 July 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Cantonese supplemented with English terminology
    • Programme Objectives:
      • - Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • - Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$200 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer. We are thankful for the support from our sponsorship Dow Jones.
20th
  • Recent news reported that Mainland tourists brought millions of dollars of cash into Hong Kong,and that Hong Kong currently does not have any limits to the amount of money being brought in or out of Hong Kong. In response to this, the Hong Kong government is preparing public consultation for the legislation of a declaration system for cash in/out Hong Kong in order to abide to the FATF suggestion. According to the system, tourists are required to provide declaration when bringing in cash of an amount over a certain threshold into Hong Kong. Our Association previously consulted our industry counterparts and exchanged ideas with staff of the Narcotics Division.
  • Our Association calls upon all licensed MSOs that during business operations, they should pay attention to the relevant requirements under Cap 34 Money Changers Ordinance and implement them in their daily operations. In particular, attention should be made to the permitted statements listed in Schedule 2 (as below):
    • A transaction note may contain the following statements:
      • The Money Changer accepts no responsibility for the customer's failure to comply with any country's or territory's currency controls.
13th
  • Course flyer and application form of the Anti-Money Laundering Course for Money Service Operators - "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies" have been mailed to all licensed MSOs and is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows: course jointly held by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) (the course is also published in the ). Details of the course are as follows:
    • Date: 30 April 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Cantonese supplemented with Chinese written materials
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Ongoing Monitoring, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$200 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer.

March 2015

27th
  • On 27 March 2015, the HKC&ED issued a circular to all licensed money changers, publishing an amended Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (“amended AML Guideline”) which will take effect on 1 April 2015. The amended AML Guideline was made in order to reflect the amendment of section 18(5) of Schedule 2 to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance to enable financial institutions to continue relying on certain specified intermediaries to carry out customer due diligence measures until 31 March 2018. Money service operators are reminded to pay attention to the content of the amended AML Guideline and update internal policies accordingly.
14th
  • Our Association noted that one of the note-issuing banks in Hong Kong, in compliance with the FATF suggestions, implemented a requirement for information of remitter and payee. Customers are required to provide the following information for all cross-order payment instructions (apply to all currencies):
    • Payee's name, account number and address (including name of country); and
    • Customer's name, account number and address (including name of country).
  • Our Association call upon all licensed MSOs to understand the relevant money laundering risks when handling remittance services and formulate related measures. Besides performing customer due diligence, MSOs should also pay attention to FATF high risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions in order to abide to relevant regulations set out in United Nations Sanctions Ordinance.
7th
  • We have released the latest issue of the Members' Circular to all members. Besides our "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies" course (Cantonese), we also provide other information relevant to licensed MSOs. For any enquiries, please call our hotline at 3176 2004.

February 2015

25th
  • Our Association attended the "2015 Seminar on Online Shopping Scams" held by the New Territories North Regional Headquarters of the Hong Kong Police. The seminar discussed about (i) analysis of fraud trends and modus operandi of online auction; (ii) police enforcement and notice to remittance agents; and (iii) suggestions for preventing online auction scams. Most fraudsters make use of third party bank accounts (e.g. licensed MSOs, add-value companies etc) to conduct transactions in order to conceal their identity. Fraudsters would have escaped by the time victims made payments and third parties involved would have committed a crime without even noticing.
  • Our Association reminds all licensed MSOs to note that:
    • "Know Your Customers" remains as an important process during daily operations
    • For non-face-to-face transactions, please ensure that additional relevant measures and monitoring procedures are in place in order to lower and manage relevant money-laundering risks
  • Our Association calls upon all licensed MSOs to pay extra attention to the latest online modus operandi in order to help reduce related crimes from happening.
15th
  • According to the statistics published by the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit, the number of STRs received increased drastically over the last three years: 23,282 were received in 2012 and 32,907 were received in 2013. 37,188 reports, which is 16% increase compared to the previous year, was received in 2014 with an average of 100 reports received per day. This reflects the increasing risk awareness against money-laundering within the financial industry. Our Association calls upon all licensed MSOs that during their daily operation where they find that: one or more suspicious activity indicators are observed, the customer is unwilling or unable to provide a legitimate and reasonable explanation, and the type of activity is not commensurate with that which is expected from the customer, then a report should be made. If one does not make a report in these circumstances, MSOs may be prosecuted for the offence of "Failing To Make A Suspicious Transaction Report", a crime which carries a maximum penalty of three months' imprisonment.
  • Suspicious transaction reports can be made in one of the following ways:
    • by e-reporting system, STREAMS
    • by fax to : (852) 2529 4013
    • by mail, addressed to Joint Financial Intelligence Unit, GPO Box 6555 Hong Kong
    • by telephone (852) 2866 3366 (for urgent reports during office hours)
  • For more information regarding suspicious transactions, please refer to our Suspicious Transactions website.
6th
  • Subsequent to the "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies" Course, registration has begun for the "Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies" course jointly held by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details of the course are as follows:
    • Date: 30 April 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: 9/F, VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: Cantonese supplemented with Chinese written materials
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Ongoing Monitoring, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$200 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer.
5th
  • “Customer Due-diligence and Case Studies” course (English) jointly held by our Association and the Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK) was held. Our course instructor explained in detail the importance of customer due-diligence and the relevant requirements related to licensed MSOs. The course enabled participants to better understand how the compliance policies can be implemented in their daily operations. Our Association will continue to organize relevant anti-money laundering and practitioner courses in order to promote compliant operations and training of practitioners. We are thankful for the support from all licensed MSOs, PEAK and our course instructor Mr. Dheeraj Bajpai.
4th
  • The HK Police noticed that traditional crime pattern is starting to become popular in the online space and fraud cases involving the internet and social media has been increasing. In order to avoid MSOs from falling into traps of fraudsters, causing financial loss and even legal proceedings, the New Territories North Regional Headquarters invites all MSOs to attend and share their experience in the following seminar in order to avoid and reduce online shopping fraud and related crimes from happening. Details are as follows:
    • Topic: 2015 Seminar on online shopping scams
    • Date: 25th February 2015 (Wednesday)
    • Time: 2:30pm to 5pm
    • Venue: Lecture Hall, 8/F, Hong Kong Police Headquarters, 1 Arsenal Street, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
    • Registration: Please fill in this form and fax to New Territories North Regional Headquarters Regional Crime Unit Team 2
  • For more information on modus operandi of related fraud, please refer to our E-mail Scam official page

January 2015

26th
23rd
  • Further to last questionnaire to licensed MSOs, HKC&ED recently released "Survey on Money Service Operators" to evaluate MSO’s training needs and current cooperation with them as well as help to formulate strategies to assist MSOs, in complying with the statutory and regulatory requirements under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Chapter 615, Laws of Hong Kong. Licensed MSOs please fill in and submit it within 10 days on receipt of this survey.
9th
  • Our Association met with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the HKC&ED to understand and discuss recent issues related to licensed money service operators. Discussion addressed the following:
  • FATF will conduct the on-site visit of the 4th round of Mutual Evaluation of Hong Kong in 2018. As part of the financial sector of Hong Kong, all licensed money changers of the money service industry should fully cooperate in the evaluation performed by the international organization against Hong Kong, especially on the effectiveness of risk assessment in relation to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing.
  • Licensed money changers are reminded to provide staff regular training on anti-money laundering, especially on verification of source of fund, conduct more stringent due diligence, identify and confirm beneficiary owner, identify politically exposed persons and report suspicious transactions. This can help licensed money changer comply with legal requirements and effectively manage relevant risks......Read More
  • In order to understand potential issues faced by licensed money changers when carrying out provisions in the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance ("AMLO"), the HKC&ED recently issued the Questionnaire on the statutory & regulatory requirements under the AMLO (To Money Service Operators) as preliminary assessment. Responses from licensed money changers will help the Commissioner of Customs and Excise formulate plans for enhancing licensed money changers' compliance level against AMLO. Licensed money changers should complete and return the questionnaire as soon as possible upon receipt.
  • Recent news reported that criminals lured foreign domestic helpers through social networking websites, smartphone social applications and at weekend gathering locations into opening bank accounts to assist in money laundering and drug trafficking. Our Association calls upon licensed money changers to perform compliance checking accordingly, of which includes obtaining understanding from customers reasons for remittance and submitting suspicious transaction reports reporting immediately to JFIU upon detection of abnormal or suspicious activities.
  • Reiterated that licensed money changers should avoid becoming third party payment channels for transaction platforms of virtual commodities such as Bitcoin, as well as stored-value accounts or other relevant transactions associated with virtual commodities. Such service can lead to relatively higher risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.
8th
  • The "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies" course (English) co-organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education And Knowledge (PEAK) is open for enrollment now (the course is also published in the PEAK quarterly course prospectus). Details are as follows:
    • Date: 5 February 2015 (Thursday)
    • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
    • Venue: VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
    • Language: English
    • Programme Objectives:
      • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
      • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
    • The course only costs HK$200 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more information about fee discount, please refer to the course flyer.

2014

December 2014

23th
  • We have released the latest issue of the Members' Circular to all members. Besides reporting MSOA affairs to members, 2 columns - Industry News and Featured Article, have been included to provide members with recent information relevant to licensed money service operators. Content of these columns can help members better understand the importance of risk assessment to licensed money service operators. As we step into the year of 2015, may we wish all members a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
16th
  • In response to the HKC&ED license information reporting requirement, our Association has set up a FAQ page for "Changes in Particulars" in our website. It aims to remind all licensees that they must notify the CCE in writing of changes within one month beginning on the date on which the changes take place. Any breach of the requirements is subject to the imposition of disciplinary actions by the CCE. The maximum penalty is a fine of $1,000,000. The licensee may also be prosecuted and liable on conviction to a fine of $50,000 and to imprisonment for 6 months.
8th
  • The Hong Kong Police Force announced that the number of commercial email scam cases reported in the first half of 2014 increased by more than 10 per cent when compared to the same period last year. This represents an increase of 80 per cent in terms of amount of loss incurred. In view of this, our Association has set up a "Email Scam" webpage in our website in order to remind all licensed money changers to pay more attention to the latest internet modus operandi so as to prevent from being defrauded.
1st

November 2014

28th
  • The "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies" course, co-organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK) was held. Both of our course instructors explained in detail the importance of customer due diligence to licensed money changers. Topics covered include: identify and verify customers, verify source of funds, formulate policies and procedures, understand risk-based approach, get to know customer background checking tools, detect suspicious transactions and share of case studies etc. Our Association will continue organizing anti-money laundering-related courses for practitioners in order to promote compliant operation within the industry and to provide training to practitioners. We would like thank all licensed money changers, our compliance advisor and PEAK for their support to our course.
24th
  • The "Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies" course, co-organized by our Association and Institute of Professional Education and Knowledge (PEAK), which will be held on 27 November 2014 (Thursday) has reached capacity. We are thankful to all enthusiastic applicants for your support to the course. For those who are interested in related courses, please take note of our Association's further notice.
21st
  • HKC&ED recently released a questionnaire in order to conduct a preliminary survey on some problems which MSOs may encounter. Answers to the questions and returned to the HKC&ED by MSOs will help the Commissioner of Customs and Excise (CCE) to plan a programme which aims at promoting the compliance level of MSOs with the requirements under the AMLO. Licensed MSOs please fill in and submit it as soon as practicable.
17th
  • The latest Members' Circular has been sent to all members. Through this Circular, our Association would like to take this opportunity to provide all members latest updates on Association affairs and information relevant to licensed MSOs. The email version has been redesigned with a new layout to give members a more convenient way to receive relevant information. For any enquiries, please call our hotline at 3176 2004.

October 2014

14th
  • Course flyer and application form of the Anti-Money Laundering Course for Money Service Operators - Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies have been mailed to all licensed MSOs. Besides being an effective way to prevent and detect money laundering and terrorist financing, staff training is also an important element to increase competitiveness. Our Association encourages MSOs to proactively participate as this is also a good opportunity for staff to increase their legal awareness and enhance their knowledge on the required level of compliance. We welcome all money service practitioners and related persons to apply. The course only costs HK$100 for all licensed money service practitioners. Seats are limited so please apply as soon as possible. For more details, please refer to our website or call our hotline at 3176 2004.
3rd

September 2014

26th
  • Our Association deeply regrets that recently bank accounts of many licensed money service operators ("MSOs") were terminated by local well-established banks. While we understand that businesses of licensed MSOs are affected by termination of accounts by banks due to business relationships or anti-money laundering policies, it is a global trend that anti-money laundering laws and regulations are becoming increasingly vigorous. In order to build a strong business relationship with banks, licensed MSOs should perform compliance procedures accordingly, starting from reflecting actual business nature when opening account, cooperation in regular and irregular sample testing conducted by banks, and to notify the bank as soon as the once business nature has changed. At the same time, licensed MSOs should become more in line with the development direction of banks in order to achieve win-win situation.
  • In order to achieve the above-mentioned targets, licensed MSOs should invest in resources for compliance work e.g. use of electronic transaction system with anti-money laundering monitoring function, use of background search tools in order to identify commercial criminals, sanctioned persons and politically exposed persons etc. , lay down suitable operational compliance policies and procedures etc. , consider hiring independent compliance officer and/or money laundering reporting officer, proactively provide training to staff, conduct periodic evaluation on the overall compliance process and effectiveness (can consider engaging independent professions to perform the evaluation) etc.
  • Banks and licensed MSOs both need to adapt to the constantly changing compliance requirement. As part of the financial services sector, we should take a step further in enhancing the compliance level in order to meet the requirements of our business partners.
19th
  • Attended the Anti-Money Laundering Seminar (English session) for Money Service Operators organized by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Hong Kong Police Force and the HKC&ED. Besides issues presented by the speakers on 3 September 2014 Anti-Money Laundering Seminar (Cantonese session), the following points were also addressed:
  • Over the year, a total of 39 unsuccessful cases of telephone deception were discovered and reported by person-in-charge of staff of money service operators. The crimes were intercepted and the victims were saved from monetary loss.
  • Risk Assessment:
    • Licensed MSOs should conduct risk assessment once they start to establish business relationship with customers. After the assessment, different policies, procedures and control measure in order to monitor customers and conduct ongoing assessment.
    • Risk assessment can be based on customers, products, services, delivery channels and geographical locations. Assessment will change over time, depending on how circumstances develop, and how threats evolve. Hence, licensed MSOs may therefore have to adjust its risk assessment of a particular customer from time to time and review the extent of the CDD and ongoing monitoring to be applied to the customer.
    • Licensed MSOs should keep its policies and procedures under regular review and assess that its risk mitigation procedures and controls are working effectively.
    • Licensed MSOs should keep records and relevant documents of the risk assessment as well as to perform regular updates based on different risk levels, so that it can demonstrate to the HKC&ED and regulatory authorities:
      • how it assesses the customer's ML/TF risk; and
      • the extent of CDD and ongoing monitoring is appropriate based on that customer's ML/TF risk.
17th
  • Attended "Current-Day Challenges For Modern-Day Risk Professionals" organised by Dow Jones. The Forum discussed about: (1) False Positive Reduction; (2) 2014 AML Survey Highlights; (3) Biggest Regulatory Challenges for 2015/2016; and (4) Transaction Screening and Sanctions. Our Association would like to highlight the following:
  • Cost of compliance continues to be underestimated
  • KYC continues to be the focus of regulators
  • Technology effectiveness can be improved
  • Lack of qualified resources
  • Family name concentration (USA 20%, Latin America 55% and China 87%)
  • Our Association appeals to all licensed MSOs to allocate more resources in compliance in order to combat the money laundering and enhance the sanctions compliance.
3rd
  • Date: 27 November 2014 (Thursday)
  • Time: 19:30 - 21:30
  • Venue: VTC Tower, 27 Wood Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
  • Programme Objectives:
    • Aims to provide money service operators better understanding of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and the Guideline on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (For Money Service Operators)
    • Raise participants' awareness of the importance of Customer Due Diligence, enhance understanding of customers so that they can help to detect irregular or suspicious financial activities, which results to increased compliance standard of money service operators
  • The course only costs HK$100 for all licensed money service practitioners. Please complete the registration form as soon as possible and submit it to our office.
3rd
  • Attended the Anti-Money Laundering Seminar for Money Service Operators organized by the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Hong Kong Police Force and the HKC&ED. The seminar discussed about: (1) Emerging Money Laundering Methods and Trends; (2) Vulnerability of MSOs shown in Telephone Deception Cases; (3) Licensing Requirements and Key Compliance Issues under the AMLO; and (4) Significance of Suspicious Transaction Reports: Quality and Quantity. The following points were covered:
  • Telephone Deception - Example including fraudster posing as relatives and friends of victim, calling the victim claiming that they have financial difficulties and requiring the victim to remit money to Mainland China through money changers. In order to combat telephone deception cases more effectively, the Police conducted the "Appleshiner" operation in June and July 2014, which is a crime prevention campaign at MSOs and black spots for payments for "virtual kidnap" throughout Hong Kong. Our Association appeals to all licensed MSOs to fully cooperate in combating such scams. When dealing with remittance, please understand the reasons for the remittance in order to identify victims and relevant suspicious transactions at an early stage to reduce the occurrence of such scams.
  • In relation to submission of Suspicious Transaction Reports ("STRs"), as of July 2014, licensed MSOs submitted a total 1,367 cases of suspicious transactions. The number of STRs submitted is showing an increasing trend from 2011 to mid-2014, reflecting an increased awareness of the industry in combatting money laundering. Our Association appeals to licensed MSOs to pay attention to red flags such as: (1) Unusually large cash transactions; (2) Significant increase in personal or business transactions without apparent reasons; (3) Multiple small amount transaction exchange or remittance of cash etc. When submitting report, describe and explain the relevant red flag in order to enhance the quality of the STR in order to assist the JFIU in their work and process and to improve their financial intelligence analysis and publication efficiency.
  • Risk-based approach to conduct due diligence and on-going monitoring (including customer risk, product/service risk, payment/distribution channel risk and country risk etc) - This is recognized as an effective way to combat money laundering/terrorist-financing. The general principle of risk-based approach is that customers are assessed and categorized into different risk money-laundering/terrorist-financing risk level. Of higher money laundering/terrorist-financing risks, MSOs should take enhanced measures to manage and mitigate those risks, and that correspondingly where the risks are lower, simplified measures may be applied. Resources can be allocated more effectively by prioritizing customers by their risk levels so that more attention can be allocated to customers that pose highest risks.
  • The HKC&ED reminds licensees that a MSO licence must be made within 90 days but not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire. Otherwise, the licensee needs to apply for a fresh new MSO licence. Please read the relevant license application form guidance notes, online demo and relevant forms.
  • A licensee needs to notify the CCE of the following changes in MSO registration particulars by completing Form 6 (Notification of Changes in Particulars), Appendix 6 and relevant supporting documents within 1 month of such changes: (1) Detailed changes of Partners / Directors / Ultimate Owners; (2) Particulars of Premises used for the operation of a Money Service; (3) Name of Business / Corporation; and (4) Deletion / addition of the Bank Account used for operating your Money Service.
  • In the new round of mutual evaluation conducted by the Financial Action Task Force ("FATF"), the FATF will focus on the effectiveness of the implementation of anti-money laundering policies by financial institutions site visits will be conducted. In view of this, the HKC&ED is coordinating with the process and will collect from MSOs their anti-money laundering and counter terrorist-financing risk assessment and effectiveness through questionnaire. Our Association appeals to all licensed MSOs to proactively prepare and respond to the questionnaire.
1st
  • The Joint Financial Intelligence Unit ("JFIU") recently issued its 2013 Annual Report. Below are some of the key points addressed:
  • The annual figure of Suspicious Transaction Report ("STR") has been rising year by year, and it reached a record high of 32,907 in 2013, an increase on 41.3% from that in 2012.
  • The JFIU welcomes continuous reporting through STR and at the same time places emphasis on the quality of STRs. The JFIU looks forward for more substantial details in each STR, which will lead to higher likelihood of intelligence cultivation and hence yield higher value to the investigation conducted by authorities or intelligence exchange with FIU counterparts.
  • Filing a STR to the JFIU is not equivalent to making a formal report of crime to the Hong Kong Police Force or other enforcement agencies. If any person believes a crime has occurred, he/she should not hesitate to make a formal report ti Police instead of filing an STR.
  • Amongst the sectors of financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions, the number of STRs contributed by Money Service Operators is second to those submitted by banks.
  • Section 25A of the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance and the Organized and Serious Crime Ordinance make it an offence to fail to disclose where a person knows or suspects that property represents the proceeds of drug trafficking or of an indictable offence respectively.

August 2014

21st
  • Our Association attended the Anti-Money Laundering Seminar for Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions co-organized by Narcotics Division, Security Bureau, Joint Financial Intelligence Unit and Estate Agents Authority. The seminar discussed and suggested how Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions can work with the government in combating money laundering. Content includes: (1) How to conduct customer due diligence; (2) Keeping of transaction records; (3) Setting out appropriate internal monitoring system; and (4) Suspicious transaction reporting etc. (Note: The latest version of the FATF Forty Recommendations extend the anti-money laundering requirements to six Designated Non-financial Businesses and Professions, which include accountants, casinos, estate agents, lawyers, precious metals and precious stones dealers, and trust and company service providers.)
8th
  • Banks in some countries are allowed to rely on CDD performed by other financial institutions or designated non-financial businesses and professions who are themselves supervised or monitored for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) / Countering Financing of Terrorism (CFT) purposes. In these situations, the third party will usually have an existing business relationship with the customer, and the banks may be exempt from applying their own CDD measures at the beginning of the relationship.
  • There may be money laundering / financing of terrorism risks involved if the bank using third party who is not obligated to follow same standard of AML / CFT requirements. Thus, there should be a written agreement or arrangement documenting the third party's responsibilities.
  • In depending on another bank or financial institution to conduct certain aspects of CDD, banks should assess the reasonableness of such reliance.
6th
  • The Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department is going to organize seminars for Money Service Operators on 3 September 2014 (Cantonese session) and 19 September 2014 (English session). The objectives of the seminars are providing the industry with an overview of the latest international and domestic developments on anti-money laundering / counter-financing of terrorism, enhancing the understanding of the statutory obligations and practices of suspicious transaction reporting and drawing the attention to the licensing requirements and key compliance issues under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. Please take this opportunity and sign up as soon as possible since seats are limited.
1st
  • Our Association encourages all licensed money changers and their staff to actively participate in the "Anti-Money Laundering Seminars for Money Service Operators" held on 3 September 2014 (Cantonese session) and 19 September 2014 (English session) by the HKC&ED. Programme and application details will be available mid to end of August.

July 2014

29th
  • Our Association met with the Deputy Director and the Marketing and Product Development Consultant of a professional training organization to discuss about co-organizing a series of anti-money laundering courses. Discussion areas on the courses include: instructors, scale, timing, venue, mode of training and administrative matters etc. We hope to further improve the quality of our courses in order to provide better training to money service operators.
25th
  • Our Association attended the "Compliance Standard for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing" seminar held by the Hong Kong Institute of Chartered Secretaries. The seminar covered various aspects on measures and information relating to how international organizations are combatting money laundering, as well as how Hong Kong can align with international standard. Content of the seminar includes: (1) FATF 40+9 Recommendations (2) Guidelines and Supervisory Standards Suggested by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision to banks; (3) Supervisory matters on Designated Non-Financial Business or Professionals (DNFBP); and (4) Definition of "Risk Based Approach" and "Tipping Off" etc.
10th
  • Our Association contacted the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the HKC&ED to understand and discussed about current money changer-related matters. Discussion areas include:
  • It is money changers responsibility to provide employees with anti-money laundering compliance training in order to effectively manage related risks. Our Association will continue to organize such courses and co-organize relevant courses with professional training organizations in order to improve the training quality.
  • The application for renewal of an MSO licence must be made within 90 days but not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire. Otherwise, the licensee needs to apply for a fresh new MSO licence.
  • A licence renewed is usually valid for 2 years or, if the CCE considers it appropriate in any particular case, any shorter period determined by the CCE, beginning on the date on which it is renewed.
  • Mentioned the news article which said that some banks tend to refuse opening accounts for money changers dues to various reasons. All parties in the market are putting in their greatest effort to adapt to the market change since relevant laws came into effect. Most of the banks are holding an open attitude towards account opening by money changers. The establishment of long-term and stable operational relationship strongly relies on whether compliance matters are properly dealt with.
  • Our Association calls for all money changers to submit their licence renewal application as soon as possible within the applicable time frame so to abide to relevant laws and to enable governmental departments to process and grant the licence efficiently. Besides operating with a licence as required by the law, money changers should also properly implement related compliance requirements and enhance knowledge of relevant laws. This is important for money changers to build long-term stable operational relationship with all financial institutions. Our Association would like to reiterate that compliant operation is mandatory for building a long-term operational relationship with banks.
8th
  • In relation to the recent news report on "15 money changers arrested for operating without licence for 2 years", our Association calls for all money remittance operators and money changers to apply to HKC&ED for a licence according to Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. In response to banks tending to refuse opening of accounts for money changers due to various reasons mentioned in the same article, our Association holds a positive attitude that money changers will be able to build a sustainable operational relationship with banks as long as they implement compliance requirements as required by the law.

June 2014

27th
  • Our Association wrote to all MSOs briefly reporting our main work performed over the past year including "Enhanced Communication", "Protection of Rights", "Training and Development", "Provision of Industry Information", and "Promotion of Compliant Operations", etc. Our Association would like to call upon all MSOs to abide to Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, Cap. 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Cap. 362 Trade Descriptions Ordinance at all times. Our Association will continue to promote long-term business relationship between MSOs and banks, provide training for practitioners and promote compliant operations to industry counterparts in accordance with the Hong Kong laws. We sincerely invite all MSOs to register as our members.
26th
  • On the occasion of our first anniversary, our Association issued an Annual Review to all members reporting our main work performed over the past year including "Enhanced Communication", "Protection of Rights", "Training and Development", "Provision of Industry Information", and "Promotion of Compliant Operations" etc. Our Association would like call upon all MSOs to always maintain high compliance level. As in the past, we will assist the industry and members in different aspects including communicating with respective financial institutions and governmental departments, providing industry information, participating in activities organized by various professional organizations, organizing training to practitioners, attending to enquiries regarding compliant operation and others related matters, assisting the Hong Kong Government and the industry to align with requirements set out by relevant international organizations, etc.
17th
  • Our Association attended the Anti-Money Laundering Risk Management seminar held by the Hong Kong Institute of Directors. The seminar discussed about how a company can effectively manage money laundering risk in order to resolve relevant issues at an early stage and that such risk management should also be part of a company's corporate governance. The course content include: (1) Money Laundering Risk; (2) Money Laundering Regulations; (3) Cases and Common Schemes of Money Laundering; and (4) Money Laundering Risk Management Measures.
16th
  • In view of recent news reports on "Beware of money changers unfair practices", our Association strongly condemns isolated regulatory violation cases where licensed money service operators ("MSOs") operated by engaging in unfair trade practices. Our Association would like call upon all money service operators again to take note of the following three points:
  • Exchange Rate Quotation: After providing oral quotation, licensed MSOs should not proceed to the actual transactions until they have verified with customers again the type of currency to be tendered, the relevant rate of exchange and the total amount of the exchanged currency to be issued beforehand. At the same time, customers should check whether information printed in the transaction note is consistent with his/her understanding. In addition, depending on the size of the operation, licensed MSOs should consider installing surveillance cameras to record all transaction processes in order to keep relevant transaction records.
  • Transaction Note: Licensed MSOs are required by law to legibly make out in duplicate a transaction note which includes the money changer's name in English and Chinese, date of the transaction, net rate of exchange etc. Customers should verify information stated upon receipt of the transaction note and enquiry immediately if in doubt in order to avoid misunderstanding.
  • Specify Charges: Licensed MSOs should clearly specify the total amount of the exchanged currency to be issued. Any other charges required should be clearly explained before transactions. If customers found inconsistency between amount said to be issued and the actual amount received, they should enquiry with relevant staff immediately.
  • Compliant operation should be the way of business for all licensed MSOs. If customers find that their consumer interest is damaged and are in vain after negotiation with licensed MSOs, they can seek assistance from the Consumer Council. Where consumers suspects licensed MSOs to be in breach of Trade Descriptions Ordinance, they can call the HKC&ED to report. Our Association reminds all customers to keep relevant transaction records to facilitate follow-up in future.
12th
  • The Hong Kong Monetary Authority announced that 12,931 copies of suspicious transaction reports were submitted by banks to the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit within the first five months of 2014. An increase of 14% in daily reporting compared to 2013 is resulted from the increased due diligence requirements against banks where they are required to comply with regulatory requirements as well as to reduce their associated obligation and risk. In view of this, as part of the financial services structure, all licensed money changers must assist the Hong Kong government and banks in combating money laundering and terrorist financing activities in order to strengthen the international financial centre position of Hong Kong. (Note: According to the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit 2012 Annual Report, money service sector is the second main suspicious transaction report contributor following the banking sector in the financial services industry)
3rd
  • Our Association attended a training event "General Overview of International Sanctions Compliance Program" organized by the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS). The event covered updated information and relevant measures taken against sanctioned jurisdictions by international community. The agenda of the event: (1) Current state of OFAC, EU, UN sanctions programs (including update on Burma, Iran, Russia & Ukraine); (2) Elements of a sanctions program; (3) Current hot topics in sanctions; and (4) Case studies.

May 2014

30th
  • Our Association issued a circular to all members providing latest updates on Association affairs and relevant information including: the seminar on Effective Ongoing Monitoring and Trade Descriptions Ordinance organized by the HKC&ED, the meeting with Consumer Council, the meeting held with Dow Jones representatives to understand their background checking tools, the seminar on ongoing monitoring and case studies organized by our Association and the leaflet recently prepared to promote our Association and to bring positive message about our industry. At the same we hope that all members can frequently browse our website and forum and we welcome sponsorships from all parties. Please feel free to contact us via our hotline 3176 2004.
26th
  • Our Association met with representatives from Dow Jones, an international organization, to exchange and further understand its online customer background check system (e.g. interface language, news archive, customer background database, ongoing monitoring reminder function etc.). An adequate background checking tool is particularly useful for money service operators to detect suspicious customer at an early stage when performing customer due diligence and ongoing monitoring. This greatly reduces risks associated with money laundering and terrorist-financing.
20th
  • In the seminar Anti-Money Laundering for Money Service Operators - Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies organized by our Association, our speaker Mr. Jimlian Chan (experienced Compliance Officer and Accountant) explained in detail measures to be in place for an effective on-going monitoring and the importance of such monitoring. Content of the seminar includes: monitoring measures, risk assessment, ongoing review, suspicious transaction and case studies etc. Money service operators were also reminded to pay attention to the renewal of their licenses. Our Association will continue to hold different types of seminars in relation to anti-money laundering and money service operators in order to promote compliance operations in the industry and to provide training to money service practitioners. Once again, our heartfelt gratitude to our members and our Compliance Advisor Mr. Jimlian Chan.
20th
  • Our Association met with the Consumer Council ("the Council") to allow staff of the Council to understand more about the money service industry in Hong Kong and to enable our Association to learn about cases related to money service operators. The following are covered during the meeting:
  • Our Association explained to the Council the licensing mechanism of money service operators, enabling the Council to gain more knowledge of the money service industry in Hong Kong. Money service operators are strictly required to abide to relevant licensing requirements, Cap. 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. The HKC&ED also continuously monitors licensed MSOs according to legal requirement.
  • Our Association explained that MSOA is a non-profit organization aiming to assist all licensed money changers to understand relevant laws and to provide the industry with a business environment with high compliance level.
  • The Council shared with us a number of case studies which mainly involve differences between rates of exchange displayed and/or oral quotations and the final transaction rate.
  • Our Association holds a neutral view on relevant cases, yet money service operators should at all times abide to Cap. 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Cap. 362 Trade Descriptions Ordinance, especially:
    • Any money changer shall provide a sufficiently large board to display the net rates of exchange in a clearly visible and legible manner to the customer of which include current net rate of exchange offered by him to customers for both buying and selling the currencies. Money changers may offer a net rate of exchange that is not shown on the board if the offered rate is more favourable to a customer.
    • Money changers, before completing an exchange transaction by handing any currency to a customer in exchange for currency tendered by the customer, shall legibly make out in duplicate a transaction note and provide a copy to the customer. The transaction note shall include details including date of the transaction, type and amount of currency tendered by the customer and the net rate of exchange etc.
  • At the same time, our Association suggests customers to read the exchange rate display board clearly and to pay attention to staff's explanation on transaction details as well as to read in detail information on the physical transaction notes in order to avoid disputes due to misunderstanding.
  • Our Association is more than happy to engage in further discussions with and to provide assistance to the Council.
12th
  • Attended the Seminar on "Effective ongoing monitoring system and certain new provisions of prohibited unfair trade practices under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance" organized by the HKC&ED. The following points were covered by staff of the HKC&ED:
  • Ongoing Monitoring
    • Risk Assessment (including customer risk, product/service risk, delivery/distribution risk and country risk)
    • Continuous Monitoring (including whether nature of business, risk status and source of fund are consistent with the business) (this can also help to coordinate with banks in compliance related issues and hence build a strong and long term business relationship)
    • Continuous Review (including the review of customer documents, data and information in order to confirm these documents, data and information reflect current status and remain relevant)
    • Monitoring Process (Update internal monitoring process from time to time in order to ensure the procedures fully address the money laundering/terrorist financing risks exposed to and the relationships maintained in operations)
    • Staff Training (Employers should enable staff to become fully aware of their own legal responsibilities and provide them with sufficient guidance and training in order to achieve effective control of relevant risks)
  • Trade Descriptions Ordinance
  • License Renewal Application
    • The HKC&ED reminds licensees that a MSO licence must be made within 90 days but not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire. Otherwise, the licensee needs to apply for a fresh new MSO licence. Please read the relevant license application form guidance notes, online demo and relevant forms.
    • If there is any addition/termination of bank accounts used for the purpose of operating money services, licensed money operators are required to fill in and submit Form 6 (Notification of Changes in Particulars), Appendix 6 and relevant identification documents within a month from the date of change of account, and to notify the Commissioner of HKC&ED.
  • Our Association suggests that besides conducting business, licensed money operators must have full understanding of the above-mentioned Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance and Cap. 362 Trade Descriptions Ordinance. At the same time, MSOs can consider using computer systems with ongoing monitoring functionality and to execute such procedures accordingly in order to avoid violation of relevant laws.

April 2014

28th
  • The HKC&ED issued a statement on 26 April reiterating that Bitcoin or other similar virtual commodities are not "money" and an MSO licence granted by the HKC&ED does not give any form of approval or recognition to a business related to Bitcoin or similar virtual commodities. Our Association would like to strongly call for all licensed money changers to avoid becoming third party payment channels for transaction platforms of virtual commodities, as well as stored-value accounts or other relevant transactions associated with virtual commodities. Such services will lead to higher risks in money laundering and terrorist financing.
17th
  • Our Association would like to encourage all licensed money changers to actively participate in the Seminar for Money Service Operators organized by the HKC&ED on 12th and 13th May. The seminar will cover effective ongoing monitoring system and Trade Descriptions Ordinance where it will draw participants' attention to how an effective system will help money service operators to know their customers and to detect money laundering and terrorist financing activities, as well as certain new provisions of prohibited unfair trade practices under the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. The seminar not only strengthen the basic knowledge of money service operators but also enable participants to keep abreast of market development and legal requirement. Please take this opportunity and sign up as soon as possible since seats are limited.
16th
  • Our Association was invited to attend the Trade Finance Breakfast Briefing organized by Accuity, an international financial counterparty KYC and compliance solutions provider. Highlights of the seminar include: (1) Trade-based money laundering; (2) Common red-flag indicators; (3) Best and poor practices of trade finance; and (4) Case study etc.
8th
  • As in previous years, representatives from anti-money laundering regulatory and law enforcement agencies all over the world, as well as internationally renowned compliance and anti-money laundering experts in the financial sector shared insights and trends in the discussed topics. Besides CEO of our Association, two other Hong Kong representatives invited came from the Prosecutions Division of the Department of Justice and one of the "Big 4" accounting firms respectively.
  • Main topics discussed include (1) Understanding the Impact of Evolving AML Laws and Regulatory Trends; (2) Creating a Risk-Aware Culture within Your Institution; (3) Managing the Financial Crime Risks Associated with Electronic Payments; (4) Detailing the Evolution of 21st Century Alternative Remittance Systems; and (5) Understanding the Risks of Virtual Currencies etc.
  • CEO of our Association shared information about the supervision of remittance business in Hong Kong. Main points discussed include:
    • Coverage of Cap 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance
    • Licensing system of the money service industry in Hong Kong and the supervision conducted by the HKC&ED
    • Laws, compliance procedures and requirements relevant to remittance business
    • Analyse potential risks associated with remittance business and appropriate measures to be conducted by licensed money changers in response to such risks
    • Analyse the security and risks associated with virtual commodities etc
  • Our Association will continue to actively participate in activities organized by various professional organizations to foster knowledge exchange.
1st
  • A new webpage "Bank Relationship" has officially been set up in our Association's website. Through the webpage, we hope to enhance the communication with respective financial institutions and to enable them to better understand the licensing system, the monitoring by HKC&ED and the relevant legislation and guidance which Hong Kong money service operators are subject to/should comply with. At the same time, we convey to licensed money changers ways they should conduct their businesses in order to cooperate better with banks, e.g. providing clear and accurate information and documents, and reasonably responding to requests from banks. All in all, we aim to promote the establishment of a long-term business relationship between money changers and banks.

March 2014

24th
  • In relation to transactions of virtual commodities, our Association would like to declare and call on:
  • Following the circular issued by the HKC&ED to all licensed money changers on 30 January 2014 and the press release issued by the Hong Kong government on 14 March 2014, the HKC&ED issued another circular to all licensed money changers on 21 March 2014, reminding money service operators the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing associated with virtual commodities.
  • As virtual commodities such as Bitcoin are not currencies, it would be risky to convert, trade or hold such virtual commodities, as their value is very volatile and is not backed by any physical items, issuers or the real economy.
  • Our Association strongly call on all licensed money changers to avoid becoming third party payment channels for transaction platforms of virtual commodities such as Bitcoin, as well as stored-value accounts or other relevant transactions associated with virtual commodities.
22th
  • With the enthusiastic support of our members and the informative session provided by our speaker Mr. Jimlian Chan, experienced Compliance Officer and Accountant, our Anti-Money Laundering Course for Money Service Operators - Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies, was successfully held. Our Association will continue to hold different types of seminars in relation to anti-money laundering and MSO in order to promote compliance operations in the industry and to provide training to money service practitioners. Once again, our heartfelt gratitude to our members and our Compliance Advisor Mr. Jimlian Chan.
18th
  • Our Association would like to remind all licensed money service operators to pay attention to the expiry date of their license for operating Money Service. The application for renewal of a license must be made within 90 days but not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire. Otherwise, the licensee needs to apply for a fresh new license and that it is an offence to operate money service without license. Licensed money service operators should refer to the guidance notes for renewal application, online demo and relevant form in detail.
17th
  • Attended the New Companies Ordinance Seminar held by the Hong Kong Institute of Directors where the perspectives of directors towards the new ordinance were shared. Some of the main points discussed include:
  • Responsibilities and liabilities of directors derive from various sources, including the constitution of the company, case law and statute law. The New Companies Ordinance strengthens the accountability of directors
  • Private companies are required to have at least one director who is a natural person
  • Requirements for a directors' report to contain information on reasons for resignation or refusal to stand for re-election of a director
  • Requirement for members' approval for directors' employment exceeding three years. If licensed money changers employed an individual as director for more than three years, licensed money changers are required to obtain member's approval in order to continue the employment of such director
  • The ambit of disclosure of material interests of a director is widened to cover "transactions" and "arrangements" instead of just "contracts". A director is also required to disclose the "nature and extent" of the interest instead of just disclosing the "nature" of the interest
  • All directors are required to acquaint themselves with the general duties of directors. The Companies Registry has published A Guide on Directors' Duties for directors' reference. If licensed money changers have any questions in relation to the new ordinance, please contact the Companies Registry (Telephone: 3142 2822) or your accountant/company secretary for enquiry
14th
  • Our Association met with the Asia Pacific affairs representative of the international organization Accuity where we explained to them MSOA's objective in promoting compliance business operations. Views were exchanged on the importance of customer background search system to Anti-Money Laundering and Customer Due Diligence in the money service industry.
7th
  • Our Association was invited to meet with seven local banks to discuss how licensed money changers can build a sustainable business relationship with banks. Discussion points include:
  • Our Association explained to respective banks that MSOA is a non-profit organization aiming to assist all licensed money changers to understand relevant laws, to provide the industry with a business environment with high compliance level and at the same time to enhance the communication with respective financial institutions and governmental departments.
  • Our Association explained to respective banks the licensing mechanism of money service operators, enabling the banks to gain more knowledge of the money service industry in Hong Kong. Money service operators are strictly required to abide to relevant licensing requirements, Cap 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Cap 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. The HKC&ED also continuously monitors licensed MSOs according to legal requirement.
  • Regardless of the scale of business of money service operators, respective banks expressed that they hold a positive and open attitude towards licensed money changers opening accounts at their banks as long as they are operating in compliance with relevant laws.
  • Banks believed it is currently an adaptation period for banks and licensed money changers since Cap 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance became effective. As long as licensed money changers properly implement their compliance procedures as required by law, it will definitely enhance the confidence in building a sustainable business relationship for both parties.
  • Our Association suggests licensed money service operators to perform the followings:
    • Lay down and obtain understanding in compliance policies and procedures (including Customer Due Diligence, On-going Monitoring etc.) and to put these relevant policies and procedures into practice
    • Keep proper transaction records
    • Provide banks accurate information and adequate assistance during sample-testing of records
    • Provide staff with more comprehensive training on anti-money laundering

February 2014

24th
  • MSOA's declaration on transactions of virtual commodities:
  • On 30 January 2014, the HKC&ED issued a circular to all licensed money changers, clearly laying down the money laundering and terrorist financing risks associated with virtual commodities.
  • The HKC&ED also recently called licensed money changers to understand whether they have been involved in transactions of virtual commodities.
  • Our Association would like to remind all licensed money changers again that they should avoid becoming third party payment channels for transaction platforms of virtual commodities such as Bitcoin, as well as stored-value accounts or other relevant transactions associated with virtual commodities. Such service can lead to relatively higher risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.
12th
  • Our Association discussed with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the HKC&ED
  • When licensed money changers deal with transactions involving virtual commodities, our Association would like to emphasize that licensed money changers should avoid becoming third party payment channels for stored-value accounts or transactions on Bitcoin related platforms. This is especially so for anonymous customers as such service can lead to relatively higher risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • In relation to the license renewal application of operating money service, the HKC&ED has sent out the first batch of license renewal reminder to licensed money changers today. The application for renewal of an MSO licence must be made within 90 days but not later than 45 days before the licence is due to expire. Otherwise, the licensee needs to apply for a fresh new MSO licence and that it is an offence to operate money service.
  • A licensee needs to notify the HKC&ED of changes in MSO registration particulars by completing Form 6 (Notification of Changes in Particulars) within 1 month of such changes.
  • The meeting between our Association and banks to be organized by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is still yet to be scheduled.
4th
  • Our Association followed up with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Hong Kong Customs & Excise Department (HKC&ED) on:
  • The Hong Kong Monetary Authority arranged a meeting between our Association and banks to discuss about the sustainability of the operational relationship between banks and licensed money changers as well as relevant compliance requirements.
  • On 30 January 2014, the HKC&ED issued a circular to licensed money changers on the money-laundering and terrorist-financing risks associated with virtual commodities (e.g. Bitcoin etc). As previously suggested by our Association, licensed money changers should be very cautious when dealing with these investments. Licensed money changers should also avoid becoming third party payment channels for stored-value accounts or transactions on Bitcoin related platforms. This is especially so for anonymous customers as such service can lead to relatively higher risk of money laundering and terrorist financing.

January 2014

28th
  • In response to our request to the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) in providing certain information related to banks and money changers, the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department (HKC&ED) provided the following responses:
  • HKMA failed to provide relevant information including the number of terminated accounts by banks, the standard banks use to decide whether to terminate an account and the number of reported suspicious transactions that involve money changers etc.
  • HKMA only replied that they have not categorized money changers as high risk industry and that they will not lay down any guidelines for the operations between banks and money changers.
  • Our Association reiterated that currently MSOs are strictly required to abide to relevant licensing requirements, Cap. 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. The HKC&ED also continuously monitors licensed MSOs according to legal requirement. Hence, banks should not cast doubt to the system of the money service industry.
  • Our Association is ready to meet with any banks in order to discuss the sustainability of operational relationship between banks and licensed money changers as well as relevant compliance requirements.
27th
  • Our Association reported to all members in writing main work performed in the past two weeks and recent hot topics related to the money service industry. Members are welcomed to visit our website and forum regularly. We further hope to receive sponsorship from enthusiast parties to support our operations.
21st
  • Attended the presentation on "The New Companies Ordinance" organized by Hong Kong Companies Registry. Following are the main points covered:
  • The new Companies Ordinance (i.e. Laws of Hong Kong, Chapter 622) will come into effect on 3rd March 2014.
  • An overview of the new Companies Ordinance, registration and deregistration of companies, compoundable offences, commonly-used forms and filing requirements (major changes in the filing documents were specifically mentioned) and the latest updates on the e-Registry electronic service etc.
  • Our Association would like to remind licensed money changers to get familiarized with the above-mentioned new ordinance, of which includes new requirement for private companies to have at least one director who is a natural person, enhancement of auditor's rights, SMEs being able to provide simplified financial reporting and director's report, as well as changes in relevant forms etc.
  • Licensed money changers should contact the Hong Kong Companies Registry (Contact no.: 3142 2822) or your accountant/company secretary if you have any queries on the new ordinance.
17th
  • Met with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the HKC&ED for the third time to discuss about the sustainability of the operational relationship between banks and licensed money changers.
  • Currently, licensed money changers are required to strictly abide to relevant licensing requirements, Cap. 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. The HKC&ED also monitors licensed money changers in an on-going basis as required by the law. As a result, banks should not cast doubt to the system of the money service industry.
  • Our Association hopes the Hong Kong Monetary Authority can provide information/statistics including: the number of terminated accounts by banks, the standard banks use to decide whether to terminate an account, the number of reported suspicious transactions that involve money changers and whether money changers are being categorized as high risk etc.
  • Our Association suggested the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to lay down relevant banking guidelines which clearly sets out protocols for the operations between banks and money changers for both parties to follow. Our Association is willing to provide further information and comments in order to fight for reasonable operation terms for the industry.
  • Our Association reiterated that in order to build a long-term relationship with banks, MSOs must operate with high compliance level.
  • Our Association encourages licensed money changers to operate using computer systems with the capability of performing customer management and on-going monitoring functions. This will greatly enhance the confidence of banks towards money service operators and also help the HKC&ED in checking relevant documents.
  • Through our Association, the HKC&ED hopes to remind licensed money changers that they should pay attention to matters around license renewal, to abide to the Trade Descriptions Ordinance and to report suspicious trading etc.
15th
  • Our Association wrote to all licensed money service operators explaining the objectives of MSOA. We also briefly reported our main work and activities performed in the past six months as well as hot topics in relation to the money service industry that were being discussed in the past month. We invited all licensed money operators to register as our members for free.
13th
  • Our Association followed up with Legislative Council members Hon Ng Leung-sing and Hon Starty Li Wai-king in relation to the sustainability of operational relationship between banks and licensed MSOs.
  • Reiterated that currently MSOs are strictly required to abide to relevant licensing requirements, Cap. 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Cap. 615 Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance. The HKC&ED also continuously monitors licensed MSOs according to legal requirement.
  • Suggested HKMA to formulate relevant bank guidelines which clearly provide guidance on the operation between banks and MSOs. This helps to avoid misunderstanding that leads to abrupt termination or not considering to provide bank services to licensed money changers.
  • Willing to provide further information and advice in order to strive for reasonable operating conditions for the industry.
  • Thanked the two Legislative Council members again for striving reasonable rights for the finance industry.
13th
  • Our Association briefly reported to our members in writing the main work and activities performed in the past six months as well as hot topics in relation to the money service industry that were being discussed in the past month. We welcome all members to frequently visit our website and forum. Our Association also hope that enthusiastic parties can sponsor and support our operations.
9th
  • The Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department recently met with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to discuss about the sustainability of the relationship between banks and licensed money service operators and hope that our Association can share with them difficulty faced by our counterparts when opening and maintaining bank accounts.
7th
  • CEO of our Association met the Director, Regional Association Development of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) to gain mutual understanding of the associations' operations and goals. Discussion also touched upon development of money service industry in different Asian countries and their respective anti-money laundering policies, training and recruitment of professional compliance personnel in Hong Kong and feasibility of organizing classroom training and seminars in future.

2013

December 2013

31st
  • Recently, our Compliance Officer was notified by Tsim Sha Tsui police officers that they are calling for money changers to increase awareness when transporting large amount of banknotes. Our Association would also like to suggest money changers to implement precautions such as changing the transportation route from time to time, buying insurance and arranging staff to deliver banknotes in pairs etc.
30th
  • In view of the numerous recent reports on the discovery of counterfeit HK$1,000 banknotes, our Association proactively contacted a vendor of counterfeit money detectors and banknote counters and inquired about models of detectors which can distinguish the recently discovered counterfeit banknotes. The vendor responded that currently they offer 2 models of detectors (2 currencies and 6 currencies) that can perform such identification. MSO are welcome to contact us for further information. (Our Association is a non-profit organization, above information is for reference only).
23rd
  • CEO of our Association paid visit to experienced licensed money changers and remittance service providers in Singapore to understand the business environment of money service providers in Singapore and the preparation status of organizing an industry association. Site visit was also performed in areas where money changers are centralized.
21st
  • With the enthusiastic support of our members and the informative session provided by our speaker Mr. Jimlian Chan, experienced Compliance Officer and Accountant, our second MSO Anti-Money Laundering Seminar, Ongoing Monitoring and Case Studies, was successfully held. Our Association will continue to hold different types of seminars in relation to anti-money laundering and MSO in order to promote compliance operations in the industry and to provide training to money service practitioners. Once again, our heartfelt gratitude to our members and our Compliance Advisor Mr. Jimlian Chan.
9th
  • Attended the Seminar on the Newly Amended Trade Descriptions Ordinance held by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department ("HKC&ED"). Staff from the HKC&ED Consumer Protection Bureau explained the following points in detail:
  • Background of the amendment, main content of the amendment, civil compliance-based enforcement mechanism, definition of trade description, newly added definitions (including service, product, trader, average consumer, commercial practices, invitation to purchase and transactional decision), fair trading sections, definition of material information, newly added offences, injunction, general defence, additional defence, penalty and enforcement agencies.
  • Our Association understood from the Consumer Protection Bureau that while Money Service Operators are regulated by Money Changers Ordinance (Cap. 34) and the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Cap. 615), Money Service Operators are also regulated by Trades Description Ordinance.
  • Our Association advises licensed Money Service Operators to refer to the Enforcement Guidelines for the Trades Description Ordinance (Unfair Trade Practices) (Amendment) Ordinance 2012 during business operation in order to avoid violating the relevant regulations.

November 2013

28th
  • Follow-up with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department ("HKC&ED").
  • During a Council Meeting at the Legislative Council on 27 November 2013, Council Member put forward the question of the significant difficulty and inconvenience faced by industry counterparts when some of the banks refused to set up bank accounts for money changers owned by licensed money service operators. The HKC&ED advised that they have reflected the situation to Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority from time to time. Our Association expressed willingness to participate in further discussions and to provide assistance in the issue and reiterated that it would be a win-win situation for both complaint money service operators and banks in building a long-term and healthy cooperative partnership.
  • Supervision of complaint operation by licensed money service operators - The HKC&ED advised that the law granted the Commissioner of Customs & Excise a variety of authorities against licensed money operators including disciplinary actions, disciplinary penalties and fines etc. The HKC&ED hopes that licensed money service operators will abide to the laws during operations and emphasized that supervision is a continual process.
  • In view of the negative news reports against licensed money service operators, the HKC&ED and our Association hope to deliver more positive messages in order to enhance the confidence of citizens and banks to licensed MSOs. The HKC&ED encourages citizens and licensed MSOs to gain a thorough understanding of the Trades Description Ordinance (Chapter 362) in order to avoid disputes due to misunderstandings.
  • SFC suspended the licensed dealing representatives and reprimanded and fined the representatives (for details, please refer to the news published by the SFC on 25 November 2013). Since the case involved services provided by money changers, the HKC&ED used the case as a reminder to money service operators that they must complete the customer due diligence process, identify source of funds and keep relevant records properly.
25th
  • The first anti-money laundering course, Customer Due Diligence and Case Studies, provided by our Association to money service operators has been successfully held. Our instructor, Mr. Jimlian Chan, provided an informative session and members participated enthusiastically throughout the course. MSOA will continue to organize various relevant courses in order to promote complaint operations by money service operators under the Hong Kong law. Once again, we are thankful for the support from our members and Compliance Officer Mr. Jimlian Chan.
19th
  • The Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department initiated follow-up with the Association in relation to a recent news report on money changer. The Association remains neutral to the report but Money Service Operators are reminded to comply with the Hong Kong Law Chapter 34 Money Changers Ordinance and Chapter 362 Trade Descriptions Ordinance. At the same time, customer should also pay attention when reading the exchange rate notice boards, listen carefully of the transaction explanations provided by staff and to read the written receipt carefully in order to prevent dispute due to misunderstanding.
19th
  • Based on prior discussion between our Association and the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Customs and Excise Department in relation to the implementation of Trade Descriptions Ordinance,the Consumer Protection Bureau took initiative to contact us in hope to assist us in promoting awareness of the Trade Descriptions Ordinance. MSOA encourages members and practitioners of Money Service Operators to learn more about the Ordinance and to join the Seminar on the Newly Amended trade Descriptions Ordinance to be held by the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department on the 9 December 2013.
13th
  • Our Experienced Money Changers Advisory Team has increased to 8 members along with the development of our Association. Our heartfelt gratitude to their contribution to the Hong Kong money changer industry.
7th
  • MSOA followed up with issues around maintaining a long-term cooperative relationship between MSOs and banks. Through meeting with an experienced banker, MSOA frankly revealed that his bank has further tightened the requirements necessary for MSOs to open bank accounts although such policies have not created major problems for MSOs with high compliance level. MSOA suggests that all MSOs must possess compliance guideline/manual, impose required procedures and update relevant policies on a regular basis.
3rd
  • Followed up with the Narcotics Division of the HKSAR Security Bureau in relation to their proposed measures on carrying state currency into and out of the country. MSOA expressed willingness to participate in further discussions and to provide assistance. Being of one of our objectives, MSOA will strive to assist the Hong Kong Government and the Hong Kong finance service industry to align with requirements set out by relevant international organizations.

October 2013

  • Followed up with the meeting with Legislative Council members Hon Ng Leung-sing and Hon Starry Lee Wai-king.
    • It was reported in newspapers on 22 October 2013 that Hon Ng Leung-sing and Hon Starry Lee Wai-king will be meeting with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau to discuss about matters surrounding how banks deal with licensed MSOs.
    • MSOA has contacted both Legislative Council members respectively in order to follow up with the prior discussion conducted in mid-September 2013 regarding views of industry counterparts. MSOA also thanked them for their effort in striving for reasonable rights and interests for the industry counterparts.
    • MSOA reiterated that licensed MSOs should be provided with reasonable commercial terms and seek to build a long-term and healthy cooperative relationship with banks.
  • Met with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Hong Kong Customs for the second time.
    • The Hong Kong Customs and MSOA conducted frank discussion and exchanged views on the current condition of the industry.
    • The Hong Kong Customs encouraged money changers and their employees to attend compliance related trainings courses in order to enhance their knowledge in the industry as well as relevant laws.
    • MSOA gave the Hong Kong Customs an overview of the contents of the upcoming seminars and trainings where the Hong Kong Customs showed support in organizing more of these programs.
    • The Hong Kong Customs reminded MSOs that they are required to have knowledge in various types of legal requirements during their operations, of which include Trade Descriptions Ordinance etc.
    • MSOA shared with the Hong Kong Customs recent cases in relation to customer due diligence faced by the MSOs.
    • MSOA introduced to the Hong Kong Customs services the organization provides to the members, especially with regard to compliance assessment and policy setting etc.
    • MSOA articulated to the Hong Kong Customs the lack of a professional review body that specifically targets the money service industry in Hong Kong.
    • MSOA sought understanding from the Hong Kong Customs their observations from routine inspection and site visit.
    • The Hong Kong Customs encouraged MSOs to use its electronic platform "Money Service Operators Licensing System" more frequently and extensively.

September 2013

  • Formal meeting with the Money Service Supervision Bureau of the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
    • Discussed in detail the mission of MSOA, in particular to align with requirements of international organizations and to enhance the compliance level of the industry etc.
    • Conveyed that MSOA aims to become the key bridge between the industry and the regulatory bodies as well as an important platform for information sharing.
    • Hong Kong is going to be assessed by the FATF in 2016 and money service industry will be the key assessment focus.
    • MSOA hopes to further increase the number of members in order to enhance the representativeness of the Association.
    • Understood the Customs and Excise Department's requirement on licence renewal and view on practitioner training.
    • MSOA reflected the lack of experienced Compliance Officer and Money Launder Reporting Officer in the market as well as the shortage of a variety of courses available to licenced persons, Compliance Officers or practitioners.
    • MSOA will organize seminars and talks on different aspects of compliance and regulations for our members.
    • MSOA expressed willingness assist the Customs and Excise Department in promoting complaint operations and reporting of suspicious transactions etc.
  • Meeting with Legislative Council members Hon Ng Leung-sing (Functional Constituency - Finance) and Hon Starry Lee Wai-king (Vice Chairman of DAB).
    • Invited to the meeting by experienced money changer Mr Siu and attended the meeting with a number of experienced industry counterparts.
    • Mainly discussed about problems encountered during interaction with banks during daily operations.
    • MSOA published views of different banks on money service operators and how they handle money service operators.
    • MSOA shared the experience of engaging global big four accounting firms to conduct compliance review on some of the industry counterparts that maintained high compliance level.
    • MSOA expressed willingness to participate in further discussions with Legislative Council members and officials from financial regulatory bodies as well as relevant governmental departments.
  • Meeting with international organization Accuity and had a thorough understanding of its online customer background check system and its appropriateness in catering the need of our industry counterparts in conducting customer due diligence. Reasonable service conditions were also requested.
  • The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, the Hong Kong Police Force and the Customs and Excise Department jointly organized Anti-Money Laundering Seminar for Money Service Operators on 27 September 2013:
    • The objectives of the seminar are to: - (1) provide the sector with an overview of the latest international and domestic developments on anti-money laundering; (2) enhance the sector's understanding of the statutory obligations and practices of suspicious transaction reporting; and (3) draw participants' attention to the compliance issues under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO).
    • Main points raised by the Customs and Excise Department: (1) The main points and requirements of the Chapter 615 include: customer due diligence, on-going monitoring, record keeping and staff training etc.; (2) The Department stressed the importance of customer due diligence. It is the minimum legal requirement to request customers to provide copy of HKID, address proof, telephone number and purpose of remittance etc.; and (3) Upon addition of or change in shareholding/branch, the Department reminded money service operators to complete prescribed application form within the required time period based on the legislative requirement.
    • Main points raised by the Hong Kong Police: (1) How to distinguish suspected fraud; (2) How fraudsters make use of money service operators to perform money laundering; and (3) Characteristics of victims and fraudsters during transactions include: Flustered, victims mainly aged above 50, fraudsters mainly aged 18 to 40, victims/fraudsters unclear of name of payee, constantly talking on the phone during remittance process, money involved amounts from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand as well as fraudsters may repeatedly remit money to the same bank account in China on different days. Money service operators should bear in mind the above points in order to avoid assisting others in money laundering.
    • Main points raised by the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit: (1) Explain the “SAFE” methodology; (2) Basic information in a suspicious transaction report should include: transaction time, amount (HK$), customer basic information (e.g. name, HKID copy, date of birth, address, telephone, bank account no. etc); (3) Comparison between knowledge and skepticism; (4) Suspicious transactions should be disclosed to the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit as soon as possible and the consequence of tipping; and (5) Suspicious transaction should be reported through email, fax or postal. Reporting by telephone is only for emergency reporting only and is limited to office hours. MSOA suggests that it is most appropriate to be handled by independent money-laundering reporting officer.

August 2013

  • Met with international organization Reuters and NICE Actimize respectively to obtain in-depth understanding on the appropriateness of various typess of anti-money laundering tools on complaint operation and customer management of industry counterparts. Reasonable service conditions were also requested.
  • Met with the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau and the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department to provide professional advice on the proposed measures on carrying state currency into and out of the country and expressed willingness to engage in further discussion and consultation.

July 2013

  • Discussed with a number of banks problems encountered by industry counterparts during their interactions with banks.
    • Understand bank policies against licensed money changers and ways to establish business relationship, including opening bank accounts and requirement for future operations.
    • Successfully discussed with a local bank about compliance standard and account opening conditions. Hope to strive for account opening for Certified Associate Members and establish long-term business relationship.
  • Assist certain industry counterparts of high compliance level to receive compliance review conducted by global big four accounting firms and to follow up with recommended issues.

June 2013

  • "Hong Kong Money Service Association Company Limited" formally registered as a non-profit organization.
    • The Association aims to represent and protect the interest of money service operators.
    • Maintain communication with government departments and at the same time provide a platform for members to share market information and experience.
  • Contact the Hong Kong Credit Union League of Hong Kong to discuss how the industry can benefit from setting up a credit union (for example cashier and payroll etc)

7 May 2013

  • Four experience industry representatives attended the first meeting with Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
  • Hong Kong faces the year 2016 FATF assessment.
  • Hong Kong Customs and MSOA will mainly focus on the FATF assessment in future discussions.
  • Hong Kong Customs advised MSOA to act as the liaison within the industry.
  • Hong Kong Customs also hope that MSOA can develop into a generally acknowledged association that represents the industry.
  • MSOA suggested the Hong Kong Customs to allow the industry to self-regulate instead of emphasizing on stringent and rigid regulatory approach.
  • MSOA reflected to the Hong Kong Customs problems faced by industry counterparts and other financial institutions. However, the Hong Kong Customs is unable to participate in the coordination work amongst the industry counterparts and various financial institutions.
  • Note: At FATF Plenary in October 2012, FATF recognized Hong Kong's efforts and agreed unanimously amongst member jurisdictions to remove Hong Kong from its "follow-up process". However, some of the proposals were only rated as "Partially Compliant". If the result of the year 2016 on-site evaluation is unsatisfactory, the consequence will severely affect the financial industry and the overall economy of Hong Kong.

6 May 2013

  • Industry association formally convened for the first time.
  • Discussed details in relation to the first meeting by invitation from the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
  • Discussed matters relating to the establishment of a formal industry association and shared past failures of other associations.
  • Prepared information and documents required to attend meeting with the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department.
  • Numerous money changers, Honorary Lawyers and Accountants attended meeting on invitation and approved Mr. Tse (former Senior Accountant of one of the global big four accounting firms) to prepare and re-initiate the operations of the MSOA.
  • Introduced and gratitude to Mr. Sammy WC Ho Barrister-at-Law as MSOA's Honorary Legal Advisor.
  • Introduced and gratitude to Mr. Jimlian Chan CPA (Compliance Officer and Money Laundering Reporting Officer of a number of licensed money changers) for being MSOA's Honorary Compliance Advisor.
  • Gained support from over a hundred counterparts through preliminary liaison by a number of enthusiastic money changers.
  • Initial publication of the website of MSOA.

Mid April 2013

  • In preparation for the meeting between the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department and industry association for the first time, approximately ten experienced money changers and bankers discussed and provided advice on the industry's development and compliance requirement.