Hong Kong Woman Sentenced to 10 Years Jail for Money Laundering

Hong Kong’s Court of First Instance today sentenced a woman convicted of money laundering to 10 years in jail.

The sentencing of Lam Mei-ling was confirmed by a Hong Kong Judiciary spokesman, who asked not to be identified because of government policy. Lam, 61, was convicted yesterday for laundering HK$6.8 billion ($877 million) through nine bank accounts from 2002 to 2005, Sing Tao Daily reported on its website today.

Global financial regulators and law enforcement agencies are stepping up efforts to tackle money laundering and fraud. HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe’s largest bank, agreed to pay $1.92 billion in December to close a global money-laundering case with regulators including the U.S. Department of Justice.

Hong Kong, Asia’s second-largest stock market, is the top destination for cash outflows from mainland China, totaling $525.6 billion at the end of 2011, according to official trade data.

The city’s anti-money laundering agency, the Joint Financial Intelligence Unit, last year received 23,282 reports of suspicious transactions from banks, accounting firms and others, double the number in 2003.

The bank accounts involved in the case were opened at Standard Chartered Plc, Bank of East Asia Ltd., Hang Seng Bank Ltd., Chiyu Bank, National Commercial Bank, Hua Chiao Commercial Bank, Dao Heng Bank, First Commercial Bank, Hua Nan Bank, the South China Morning Post reported today, citing court proceedings.

The Hong Kong Association of Banks didn’t immediately reply to an e-mail seeking comment. The Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau said an e-mailed statement that Hong Kong is “fully committed” to combating money laundering activities that jeopardize the city’s financial markets.

Lam, who lives in government housing, was found to have laundered an average of HK$155 million every month during the four-year period, according to the Morning Post report.

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