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Hong Kong SFC Fines Mason Securities $461,000 for Due Diligence Failure at Account Opening and Source of Funds

17th December 2021 | Hong Kong

The Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has fined Mason Securities (MSL) $461,000 (HKD 3.6 million) for failing to ensure proper certification of client identity before approving account opening and procedures-in-place to identify third party deposits, thus breaching anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulatory requirements.  Mason Securities (MSL) was previously known as GuocoCapital (GCL) until 25th February 2016.

“ Hong Kong SFC Fines Mason Securities $461,000 for Due Diligence Failure at Account Opening and Source of Funds “

 


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Hong Kong SFC Investigation:

Hong Kong, Asia’s leading financial centre

The Hong Kong SFC found that between December 2014 and January 2015, GCL failed to conduct proper customer due diligence before approving the opening of six clients’ accounts via a non-face-to-face approach because no controls were in place to ensure that proper certification of client identity documents was carried out.  MSL also failed to take reasonable measures to ensure that proper safeguards exist to mitigate the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing when identifying and handling third party deposits as it failed to identify 15 cheques issued by third parties were deposited into five client accounts between May and July 2016 until the SFC requested for the relevant cheque copies.  This was due to GCL and MSL’s lack of policies and procedures for the identification of third party deposits prior to June 2017.  

  • The SFC is of the view that MSL is guilty of misconduct, and its fitness and properness to carry on regulated activities have been called into question.  In deciding the disciplinary sanction, the SFC took into account:
  • the authentication of client identity is paramount to an effective customer due diligence process and is necessary to guard against the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing;
  • GCL and MSL’s failures in complying with AML/CTF requirements lasted for an extensive period of time, including its failure to put in place policies and procedures to identify third party deposits from September 2009 to June 2017 (Notes 8 & 9);
  • a strong message has to be sent to the market to deter similar misconduct; and
  • MSL’s cooperation with the SFC in resolving the SFC’s concerns.



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