Taipei, March 16 (CNA) An office to combat money laundering was officially established by the Executive Yuan on Thursday.
Premier Lin Chuan (林全), in a ceremony to mark the creation of the Anti-Money Laundering Office, expressed confidence that the new agency will help to build a more transparent and orderly financial environment.
The premier said the office brings together the expertise of government agencies and the private sector in the planning and integration of the nation's anti-money laundering policies.
The inauguration of the office is also aimed at beefing up money laundering prevention before the third evaluation round of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) next year, the premier said.
He expressed hope that the concerted efforts of the office will ensure Taiwan is removed from the APG's watch list.
Taiwan was placed on an "regular follow-up" list in 2007 and on an "enhanced follow-up" list by the APG in 2011. It returned to the "regular follow-up" list in 2014.
The APG, an international organization founded in Thailand in 1997, uses a mutual evaluation or peer review program to assess how well members comply with international anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) standards.
Deputy Justice Minister Tsai Pi-chung (蔡碧仲) will serve concurrently as the director of the office, while 18 other members have been transferred from the Justice Ministry, the Investigation Bureau, the Financial Supervisory Commission, the Ministry of the Interior as well as Hua Nan Bank and Chang Hwa Bank.
In addition, Tsai said the Ministry of Justice will draft a list of "politically exposed persons" (PEPs) for monitoring, as a PEP generally presents a higher risk for potential involvement in bribery and corruption by virtue of their high position and the influence that they may hold.
He also noted that the Mega Bank incident not only resulted in fines but also damaged the credibility of financial activities conducted in Taiwan around the world.
New York State's Department of Financial Services (DFS) announced on Aug. 19, 2016 that it had fined Taiwan's Mega Bank US$180 million for its poor compliance practices, after identifying "a number of suspicious transactions" between the bank's New York and Panama branches.
The DFS said it had discovered that "a substantial number of the bank's customer entities were formed with the assistance of Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama, one of the law firms at the center of global shell company activity.
(By Liu Chien-pang and LIlian Wu)