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Hong Kong banks to disclose related property of clients who breach security law

Published 10/24/2021, 01:05 AM
Updated 10/24/2021, 03:25 AM
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view of Two International Finance Centre (IFC), HSBC headquarters and Bank of China in Hong Kong, China July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

By Kane Wu

HONG KONG (Reuters) -Banks in Hong Kong are advised to disclose related property of clients who are found in breach of the city's national security law, according to the latest guidelines from its banking association.

The advice was introduced in an Oct. 22 update of the Hong Kong Association of Banks' (HKAB) frequently asked questions in relation to anti-money laundering and counter-financing terrorism, which was published on the website of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).

Banks should disclose property held by any client who is arrested or charged for an offence endangering national security or when they have knowledge or suspicion that a property is "offence related property" after receiving information from law enforcement agencies, per the clause.

An HKMA spokesperson said HKMA and the banking sector discuss implementation issues with stakeholders including law enforcement agencies in the anti-money laundering and counter-financing terrorism areas from time to time per international practices.

"The FAQs are updated in line with our usual practice in responding to questions raised by banks," said the spokesperson.

The HKAB did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

China imposed national security legislation in Hong Kong on June 30 last year, making anything Beijing regards as subversion, secession, terrorism or colluding with foreign forces punishable by up to life in prison.

Three months later, the banking association added five clauses to the FAQs regarding anti-money laundering and counter-financing terrorism, advising banks of their reporting requirements under the law, how they should handle law enforcement requests and guidelines regarding group-wide information sharing.

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view of Two International Finance Centre (IFC), HSBC headquarters and Bank of China in Hong Kong, China July 13, 2021. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Transactions suspected to be linked to the law should be treated the same as transactions suspected to be money laundering or financing terrorism, according to the clauses at the time.

The FAQs are not official guidelines but apply to both Hong Kong and international banks.

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