International Conference Provides Platform for Much-Needed Discussion of Hong Kong PEP Policies

2009-03-25 14:37
  • English

HONG KONG--(BUSINESS WIRE)--With recent headlines underscoring Hong Kong’s vulnerability to money laundering and sanctions violations, an international conference to be held next week will highlight money laundering and terrorist financing trends across the region with particular focus on dealing with conflicting laws and regulations in a global economy and maintaining effective anti-money laundering programs despite cost constraints.

The ease in which Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and ousted Prime Minister of Thailand Thaksin Shinawatra were both reportedly able to purchase HK$40 million homes in Hong Kong without raising any flags as to their politically exposed persons (PEPs) statuses indicates the weak controls that financial institutions and law enforcement agencies are battling.

“The question on everyone’s mind is how the banks allowed these two high-risk and extremely high-profile individuals to have purchased these properties without mortgages and without prompting further due diligence,” said Gregory Calpakis, CAMS, Executive Director of ACAMS. “Identifying a PEP generally takes little more than a quick search on the computer.”

How to identify PEPs, how to assess their risks and how to effectively verify the source of their funds are among the 23 cutting-edge topics that will be addressed at the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) Anti-Money Laundering & Counter-Terrorism Financing Conference – Asia Pacific, taking place 29-31 March in Hong Kong.

There are specific rules of due diligence concerning bank contacts with PEPs and the management of their assets and financial affairs that are clearly defined and enforced by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF).

When Hong Kong became a member of FATF in 2004, it also agreed that its financial institutions, regardless of size, would report to the Hong Kong police transactions involving PEPs.

“In today’s environment, financial institutions cannot afford to take such unnecessary risks. With a weakening economy, more people are willing to break the rules and regulators are aware of this,” said John Byrne, CAMS, chairperson of the ACAMS Advisory Board. “The economy may be slowing down, but regulation is not. Any financial institution facing a monetary penalty at this point would certainly be in operational jeopardy, which is why quality training on how to mitigate such risks is essential. Our international conferences provide such a resource.”

In addition to PEPs, the conference will also feature discussions on detecting beneficial owners while reconciling differing regional requirements, avoiding the AML compliance pitfalls of correspondent banking and preventing casino-based money laundering.


The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) is an international membership organisation based in Miami, Florida, solely dedicated to compliance education and training. Since its inception in 2001, ACAMS has provided invaluable resources to professionals who specialize in money laundering and terrorist financing control policies, procedures and regulations, and provides the highly sought-after Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certificate to professionals who pass a rigorous examination. ACAMS’ renowned conferences in the United States, Latin America, Europe, the Middle East-North Africa and now Asia attract more than 1,400 attendees each year. For additional information, please visit

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Hue Dang, + 852 3750 7645