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APG praises Taiwan's anti-money laundering efforts, with caveats

2018/11/16 20:58:28

Taipei, Nov. 16 (CNA) Taiwan's anti-money laundering efforts have impressed an evaluation team from the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), but there is more work to be done, the Executive Yuan said Friday.

In a statement, the Cabinet said the preliminary results of a mutual evaluation by the APG, a mechanism set up in February 1997 to prevent money laundering-related crimes in the Asia Pacific area, found Taiwan's anti-money laundering system to be functioning well.

Through the system, Taiwan is able to provide instant mutual legal assistance to its peers in the region to prevent money-laundering, the government said, citing the APG's initial findings.

A team organized by the APG held the third round of a peer review in Taiwan from Nov. 5 to Friday, when it released its preliminary results.

The APG uses a "mutual evaluation," or peer review, program to assess how well members are complying with international anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards.

The Cabinet cited David Shannon, the head of the peer review team in Taiwan, as saying the team was impressed with Taiwan's anti-money laundering efforts and praising the newly established Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) for its coordination in the arena.

The office has been preparing for the third round APG peer review since it was established on March 16, 2017.

Shannon was also cited as saying that Taiwan has allocated sufficient resources to fight money laundering in non-financial sectors, which has led to progress in promoting efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism financing over the past two years.

Taiwan still has room for improvement, however. The Executive Yuan cited the evaluation team as saying that financial supervisory agencies in Taiwan should more tightly monitor the operations of banks' offshore banking units, and punishments should be made harsher to deter money laundering.

Minister without Portfolio Lo Ping-chen (羅秉成) said the APG will submit an evaluation report in January 2019, and the evaluation team will visit Taiwan again in March to conduct a four-day follow-up onsite review before releasing a final report at an annual meeting of the APG in July.

AMLO Director Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said he is optimistic that Taiwan will be included in the top-tier "regular follow-up" list.

Taiwan was placed in the "regular follow-up" list by the APG in 2007, requiring it to report back two years after the evaluation.

But the country was demoted in 2011 on an "enhanced follow-up," requiring it to report back one year after the evaluation.

It was then placed on the "transitional follow-up list" in 2014 after making some improvements and was removed from that list on July 20, 2017.

If a member country lands on the lowest-tier "non-cooperation" list, it could face sanctions.

The APG currently has 41 members, and its Secretariat is located in Sydney, Australia. Taiwan is one of the founding members of the APG, one of only a few international organizations in which Taiwan has a seat.

(By Elaine Hou, Tien Yu-pin and Frances Huang)
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