An overview of the anti‐money laundering laws of Hong Kong

Publication Date17 Oct 2008
AuthorDavid Y.K. Kwok
SubjectAccounting & finance
An overview of the anti-money
laundering laws of Hong Kong
David Y.K. Kwok
Haymarket, Sydney, Australia
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the anti-money laundering laws
of Hong Kong, in particular the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance.
Design/methodology/approach An analysis of the legislation with respect to anti-money
laundering as well as relevant case law.
Findings Hong Kong authorities are serious about fighting money laundering crimes.
The statutory scheme in Hong Kong is comprehensive and in line with international standards.
Originality/value – By discussing the key statutory provisions and the important cases, this paper
provides a comprehensive overview of the anti-money laundering laws of Hong Kong. This paper is of
value to lawyers, prosecutors, academics, law students, etc. in not only Hong Kong, but in the region
including mainland China.
Keywords Money laundering,Crime, Hong Kong, China
Paper type Research paper
Money laundering, or the “cleansing” of dirty money, has become a huge problem that
poses serious threats to the world. It has been described as a necessary component in
the system of international crime, and there could be no narcotics trafficking or
international terrorism without it (Levi, 1997). The British Intelligence ha s estimated
that US$500 billion is being laundered annually (Shehu, 2000). This seems a rather
conservative estimate considering that US$590 billion to US$1.5 trillion had been
laundered in 1996 alone (Sham, 2006). The global narcotics trade is estimated to
generate revenues of US$1 trillion per year, most of which would require laundering[1].
In China, it is estimated that about Rmb 200 billion, including Rmb 70 billion from
smuggling and Rmb 30 billion from corruption of public officials, is laundered per
annum[2]. On numerous occasions, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region[3] of
China had been used for laundering the proceeds of crime generated on the
mainland[4]. In the Po Sang Bank Case, in order to evade Chinese taxes, business
profits amounting to some HK$95 billion had been smuggled by a mainland syndicate
into Hong Kong[5]. Just recently, mainland police have smashed an underground bank
in Shenzhen. It is believed that it handled dirty funds of some Rmb 4.3 billion between
2006 and May 2007, much of which had been poured into Hong Kong stocks (Liu and
Ng, 2007). Hong Kong is one of Asia’s main financial centres[6]. Because it has
world-class financial and banking facilities, an efficient communication system and an
international financial and transportation network, Hong Kong’s function as a
financial centre is therefore very attractive to money launderers in the region[7].
The purpose of this articleis to take a close look at Hong Kong’s principal anti-money
launderinglaw, namely, the Organisedand Serious Crimes Ordinance(Cap 455) (“OSCO”).
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available at
The anti-money
laundering laws
of Hong Kong
Journal of Money Laundering Control
Vol. 11 No. 4, 2008
pp. 345-357
qEmerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/13685200810910411

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