HK watchdog fines Mason Securities $3.6M for AML requirement breaches
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has reprimanded Mason Securities Limited (MSL), formerly known as GuocoCapital Limited (GCL), and fined it $3.6 million for failing to ensure proper certification of client identity before approving account opening and have in place controls for the identification of third party deposits, contrary to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulatory requirements.
The regulator 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.
The company 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 found MSL guilty of misconduct. The company’s fitness and properness to carry on regulated activities have been called into question. In deciding the disciplinary sanction, the SFC took into account a variety of factors, including that GCL and MSL’s failures in complying with AML/CTF requirements lasted for an extensive period of time. The regulator notes MSL’s cooperation in resolving the SFC’s concerns.