New initiatives to combat money laundering and terrorist financing take effect

In an effort to enhance Hong Kong’s regulatory regime for combating money laundering and terrorist financing, a new licensing regime for trust or company service providers (TCSPs) and new requirements on the keeping of Significant Controllers Registers by companies took effect today (March 1).

The new licensing regime for TCSPs has been introduced under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Cap. 615) to require TCSPs to apply for a licence from the Registrar of Companies by June 28, 2018, the end of a four-month transition period.

Any person who carries on a trust or company service business in Hong Kong without a licence commits an offence. TCSP licensees are also required to comply with the statutory customer due diligence and record-keeping requirements.

In addition, with effect from today, all Hong Kong companies (except listed companies) are required to ascertain and maintain up-to-date beneficial ownership information by way of keeping a Significant Controllers Register. The Register should be open for inspection by law enforcement officers upon demand.

“The two new regimes are in line with international requirements as promulgated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The initiatives will safeguard the integrity of Hong Kong as an international financial centre, and add to our credibility as a trusted and competitive place for doing business,” the Registrar of Companies, Ms Ada Chung, said.

The FATF is an inter-governmental body that sets international standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

Source: Companies registry