Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in China

AML Country Guide / Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in China

Money laundering is a global issue that poses significant threats to the financial integrity and stability of countries around the world, including China. To combat this problem, China has implemented a robust Anti-Money Laundering (AML) framework over the years. This guide aims to provide an overview of AML regulations in China, including key laws, regulations, and best practices for compliance.

Evolving AML Challenges and China's Response

Money laundering continues to evolve, adapting to technological advancements. China, like many other countries, faces new challenges, such as electronic black money and transaction laundering. Despite these challenges, China maintains a strong commitment to combating money laundering and preserving its economic stability. Some of the key crimes associated with money laundering in China include terrorism financing, drug trafficking, smuggling, bribery, financial fraud, and forgery. However, it's worth noting that revenues from tax evasion funneled through overseas companies are considered separate offenses, and individuals engaging in such activities are prosecuted accordingly.

China's AML law is designed not only to deter money laundering but also to safeguard fiscal order and combat-related crimes. China has a deep understanding of money laundering and terrorist financing risks, and it is not listed on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Country List for AML deficiencies. However, in a February 2019 report, FATF suggested that China should focus more on addressing the laundering of crime proceeds and expand its resources for national risk assessment. The People's Bank of China has a good grasp of how criminals can exploit financial institutions, leading to a high level of compliance with 15 out of FATF's 40 Recommendations.

AML Regulations in China

  • Anti-Money Laundering Law of the People's Republic of China

China's main legislative framework for AML is the Anti-Money Laundering Law (AML Law), which came into effect in 2007 and was amended in 2020. This law outlines the obligations and responsibilities of various entities in preventing money laundering activities. Key provisions include:

  1. Customer Due Diligence (CDD): Financial institutions are required to establish and maintain customer identification procedures to verify the identity of their customers.
  2. Suspicious Transaction Reporting: Financial institutions and designated non-financial institutions must report suspicious transactions to the relevant authorities.
  3. Record Keeping: Institutions are obligated to keep records of transactions, customer identification data, and suspicious transaction reports for a specified period.
  4. Internal Controls: Entities must establish internal control systems to ensure compliance with AML requirements.
  • Regulations of the People's Republic of China on Reporting Large Cash Transactions and Suspicious Transactions

These regulations require financial institutions to report large cash transactions and suspicious transactions to the China Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center (CAMLMAC).

  • Guidelines and Circulars

In addition to the AML Law and regulations, China's regulatory authorities, including the People's Bank of China (PBOC) and the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), issue guidelines and circulars to provide detailed guidance to financial institutions on AML compliance.

Since 2006, China has taken significant steps to strengthen its AML regime. The China People's Bank (PBC) and State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) implemented the AML Rules on January 1, 2007. These regulations aim to prevent money laundering, standardize AML activities within financial institutions, and protect the integrity of the financial sector. In 2014, the Chinese government issued "Measures on the Management of Freezing Assets Related to Financing Terrorism" to address emerging threats in a globally connected economy.

Regulatory Authorities in China

Several regulatory bodies in China oversee and enforce AML regulations:

  1. People's Bank of China (PBC): China's central bank plays a pivotal role in AML regulation and supervision.
  2. China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC): Regulates banking and insurance sectors.
  3. China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC): Regulates the securities industry.
  4. Ministry of Public Security: Focuses on law enforcement against money laundering and related crimes.
  5. State Administrator of Foreign Exchange Administration: Manages foreign exchange-related aspects of AML.

The most important AML Regulators

AML Compliance and Penalties

Failure to comply with AML regulations in China can lead to serious consequences. Regulators may impose administrative fines of up to 5 million RMB for non-compliance. Organizations that persistently violate AML requirements risk having their financial permits revoked. Additionally, individuals and organizations that do not meet AML obligations may face fines of up to 500,000 RMB. Before imposing fines, authorities typically issue correction orders and apply disciplinary sanctions.

Key AML Obligations in China

AML laws in China come with specific obligations that all financial institutions must adhere to. Regulators monitor compliance with these obligations closely. Key AML obligations in China include:

  • Establishing Internal Control Systems: Financial institutions must develop and implement robust internal control systems to prevent money laundering.
  • Customer Identification: Institutions should establish customer identification systems in accordance with relevant provisions.
  • No Anonymous Transactions: Institutions must not provide services or engage in transactions with customers who cannot verify their identity.
  • Protection of Identity Materials: Institutions are responsible for safeguarding customer identity materials and transaction records.
  • Reporting Suspicious Transactions: AML programs should include systems for reporting large or suspicious transactions.
  • Record Keeping: Institutions must maintain records of customer identity documents and transaction details.
  • Dedicated AML Department: Organizations must establish a dedicated money laundering department with an authorized officer.
  • AML Training: Institutions are required to provide AML training to their staff.
  • Agent Transactions: When customers entrust agents to conduct transactions on their behalf, financial institutions must verify and register the principal's identity documents.

In conclusion, China has taken significant steps to combat money laundering and protect its financial system. As money laundering techniques evolve, China's AML regulations continue to adapt to emerging threats. Compliance with AML obligations is vital for all financial institutions and non-financial entities to contribute to the overall integrity of China's financial landscape.

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