PNG remains in list of countries with inadequate anti-money laundering controls

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TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan has been dropped from a watchlist of Asia-Pacific jurisdictions deemed to have inadequate anti-money laundering controls, a senior official said on Wednesday, adding that the move reflects the island’s determination to tighten its laws.

Removal from the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) watchlist is a victory for Taiwan, known as a supply chain hub for Apple Inc and other global companies, but which has also earned a reputation as a haven for money laundering.

Taiwan was the only jurisdiction removed from the 10-member watchlist after a meeting of the group in Sri Lanka last week, Deputy Justice Minister Tsai Pi-chung told Reuters.

“We have revised anti-money laundering regulations that were just implemented last month and we have established a cyber security protocol,” said Tsai.

“All of our revised legal standards have demonstrated our determination to fight money laundering and carry out reforms.”

The others on the watch list are Afghanistan, Brunei, Laos, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

Financial firms and professionals such as accountants and lawyers must report suspicious or high-value transactions under the revised regulations, Tsai added.

The APG did not immediately respond to a request from Reuters seeking comment.

The APG’s decisions are closely followed by the 37 members of the broader Financial Action Task Force (FATF), including the United States and China, Tsai added.

The APG, an associate member of the FATF, has direct access to its policy-making and standards-setting process. Members are committed to adopting FATF recommendations to battle money laundering, the APG says on its website.

Growing concern that Taiwan was an easy target for money laundering schemes drove efforts to revise the law and adopt national cyber security protocols this year, with a cyber security bill awaiting approval in the next legislative session set to begin in September.

APG refers to the watchlist from which Taiwan was removed as a “transitional follow-up list,” covering jurisdictions that need to improve defenses against money-laundering.

But Taiwan still has a lot of work ahead before it meets international standards against money laundering and cyber crime, said Ko Yi-fen, an official of its Anti-Money Laundering Office.

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