Taiwan removed from money-laundering watch list

Taiwan removed from money-laundering watch list

Reuters

Taiwan has been dropped from a watch list of Indo-Asia-Pacific jurisdictions deemed to have inadequate anti-money-laundering controls, a senior official said, adding that the move reflects the island’s determination to tighten its laws.

Removal from the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) watch list is a victory for Taiwan, known as a supply-chain hub for Apple Inc. and other global companies, but which has also earned a reputation as a haven for money laundering.

Taiwan was the only jurisdiction removed from the 10-member watch list after a meeting of the group in Sri Lanka in late July 2017, according to Deputy Justice Minister Tsai Pi-chung.

“We have revised anti-money laundering regulations that were just implemented last month [June 2017], and we have established a cyber security protocol,” Tsai said. “All of our revised legal standards have demonstrated our determination to fight money laundering and carry out reforms.”

The others on the watch list are Afghanistan, Brunei, Laos, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Financial firms and professionals such as accountants and lawyers must report suspicious or high-value transactions under the revised regulations, Tsai added.

The APG’s decisions are closely followed by the 37 members of the broader Financial Action Task Force (FATF), including the United States and China, Tsai added.

The APG, an associate member of the FATF, has direct access to its policymaking and standards-setting process. Members are committed to adopting FATF recommendations to battle money laundering, the APG says on its website.

Growing concern that Taiwan was an easy target for money-laundering schemes drove efforts to revise the law and adopt national cyber security protocols in 2017, with a cyber security bill awaiting approval in the next legislative session set to begin in September.

APG refers to the watch list from which Taiwan was removed as a “transitional follow-up list,” covering jurisdictions that need to improve defenses against money laundering.

However, Taiwan still has a lot of work ahead before it meets international standards against money laundering and cyber crime, said Ko Yi-fen, an official of its Anti-Money Laundering Office.

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