We all know about US regulator’s multiple attempts to discourage de-risking. Now, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has issued its own guidance on de-risking and financial inclusion. The highlight is really in their first point:
The progressive tightening of international standards in combating money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF) in the past few years has led to extensive enhancement of AIs’ anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) controls, including customer due diligence (CDD) processes for existing and new customers. Apart from the local requirements, some AIs, for a variety of reasons, need to also comply with requirements or standards mandated by their head offices or overseas authorities. While it is important to ensure that AML/CFT controls are sufficiently robust and comply with all the relevant regulatory requirements, the HKMA expects AIs to adopt a risk-based approach (RBA) and refrain from adopting practices that would result in financial exclusion, particularly in respect of the need for bona fide businesses to have access to basic banking services.
And to reinforce the regulatory expectation:
Not a “Zero Failure” regime – RBA does not require or expect a “zero failure” outcome. While AIs should take all reasonable measures to identify ML/TF risks at the account opening stage and, for existing customers, on an ongoing basis, it is unrealistic to expect that no ML/TF activities would ever occur through the banking system. AIs are not required to implement overly stringent CDD processes with a view to eliminating, ex-ante, all risks. Otherwise, such an approach would result in a large number of bona fide businesses and individuals not being able to open or maintain accounts. CDD is only one part of an effective AML/CFT regime. AIs are also required to implement a system that can monitor and detect suspicious transactions in order to report them to the relevant authorities and take the necessary mitigating measures, such as enhanced CDD. The HKMA’s supervisory stance is aimed at the effective implementation of AML/CFT systems by AIs and to ensure that there are no material failings in those systems, rather than aiming for nil ML/TF activities in the banking system.