Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in South Korea

AML Country Guide / Anti-Money Laundering (AML) in South Korea

The aggressive strategy taken by South Korea in the battle against money laundering demonstrates its unshakable commitment to upholding the credibility of its financial system. Comprehensive client due diligence (CDD), careful transaction monitoring, and prompt reporting of questionable financial activity by institutions are all firmly emphasized in South Korea's plan. The nation's determination to fight money laundering schemes is strengthened by these joint activities.  The nation's financial intelligence unit plays a critical role in reviewing and analyzing submitted data, providing law enforcement authorities with important assistance in locating and bringing money launderers to justice. Furthermore, South Korea regularly participates in international partnerships, encouraging cooperation for worldwide anti-money laundering (AML) projects.   

AML Obligations for Institutions in South Korea  

In South Korea, a diverse array of institutions, including casinos, insurance companies, mutual savings banks, financial firms, credit cooperatives, credit unions, trust companies, commercial banks, and securities companies, face significant money laundering risks. To mitigate these risks, these institutions are mandated to adhere to stringent AML/CTF (Counter-Terrorist Financing) regulations. Moreover, every financial entity is obligated to comply with the rigorous Customer Due Diligence (CDD) requirements in South Korea. Failure to adhere to CDD regulations can result in substantial fines and penalties for financial institutions, underlining the government's commitment to ensuring strict AML compliance. 

AML Regulations  

Through its AML rules, South Korea has maintained a solid legal framework to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. These regulations impose stringent obligations for client due diligence, transaction monitoring, and reporting suspicious activity to the Korea Financial Intelligence Unit (KoFIU) on various financial institutions, including banks, securities firms, and insurance companies. South Korea's determination to combat financial crimes worldwide is underscored by its commitment to international collaboration, as seen by its membership in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).  

Here are some AML Regulations in South Korea: 

  • Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information  
  • Prohibition Against the Financing of Terrorism Act Regulation and Punishment of Criminal Proceeds Concealment Act  
  • Act on Special Cases Concerning the Prevention of Illegal Trafficking in Narcotics  
  • Real Name Financial Transactions and Privacy Law  
  • Foreign Currency Transactions Act, Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure Law  
  • AML/CFT Regulations  

The Corporate Tax and Personal Income Tax Law prohibits domestic and international bribery in Korea. However, tax evasion companies are punished under the Tax Evaders Penalty Act (PTEA). The AML/CFT Regulations, Real Name Financial Transactions, Privacy Law, and the Criminal Court Law include legal regulations on money laundering. These regulations punish persons engaged in money laundering activities.  

7 Elements of an Effective AML/CFT Compliance Programme

FATF Status  

South Korea has been a FATF member since 2009. The efficiency of Korea's measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as their conformity with the FATF Recommendations, were jointly evaluated in 2020 by the FATF and FATF associate member APG. According to the report, Korea has a robust legal system to combat money laundering and terrorism funding and seize the associated monies. However, more needs to be done in Korea to prevent public servants and members of the government from laundering corrupt funds. According to that Evaluation, South Korea was deemed Compliant for 12 and Largely Compliant for 20 of the FATF 40 Recommendations. It was also deemed Highly Effective for 0 and Substantially Effective for 5 with regard to the 11 areas of Effectiveness of its AML/CFT Regime. 

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