April 25 (Bloomberg) -- Hong Kong’s banking regulator told chief executives of lenders in the city in a letter today to strengthen their anti-money laundering controls and systems.
The request followed a meeting on April 12 when Hong Kong Monetary Authority Chief Executive Norman Chan told them that failure to address the problem could threaten the city’s status as an international financial center, according to a presentation released by the HKMA today.
The regulator now has powers to fine or initiate criminal proceedings against banks under a law that came into effect a year ago. It has already begun using enforcement powers acquired to start investigations, according to Stewart McGlynn, an acting division head at the authority.
The HKMA plans to double its team of specialists, which mainly comprises examiners for carrying out on-site checks at banks, to 22 people over the year, he said at a briefing today.
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