Spotlight on agents to fight money-laundering

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 January, 1997, 12:00am

Narcotics administrators have targeted remittance agents in an effort to prevent drug traffickers laundering their profits.

The Narcotics Division yesterday announced it would issue guidelines to more than 300 remittance agents, advising them to record all transactions and report any suspicious customers.

But police said they doubted the unenforceable 'honour system' of guidelines would help them track down drug money.

Commissioner for Narcotics Clarie Lo Ku Ka-lee said authorities were considering new regulations to complement the guidelines, which would be ready in a few months.

'We will review the effectiveness of this administrative approach in six months' time,' Ms Lo said.

'If necessary, we would consider regulating money changers and remittance agents for anti-money laundering purposes.' The guidelines would enable the Government to take 'faster and simpler' measures to counter money laundering. But Narcotics Bureau Chief Superintendent Ian Grant said there should be 'an adequate regulatory framework' to monitor the agents, who required no licence to practise. 'Police will agree to this interim measure to issue guidelines but these guidelines would have no legal foundation and therefore they are unenforceable,' he said.

'I'm not optimistic that they would have any tangible effect but I'm willing to try in the absence of anything else.'