A money changer and its two directors were convicted of operating a money service without a valid licence at Kowloon City Magistrates' Courts yesterday (March 1) and were fined a total of $114,000, which was a record high among cases of unlicensed money service operation.
Customs officers in May last year conducted an investigation and discovered that a male director and a female director of a money changer in Mong Kok had been operating a remittance business before the application for a Money Service Operator licence was approved. Therefore, the money changer and the two directors were suspected of operating a money service without a licence.
Customs welcomes the sentence. The record-breaking fine has achieved a deterrent effect while a clear warning has been issued to unlicensed money service operators.
Under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance, a person who wishes to operate a remittance or money changing service needs to first obtain a licence from the Customs and Excise Department. The maximum penalty for such operators without a valid licence upon conviction is a fine of $100,000 and imprisonment for six months.
Customs reminds consumers to procure services from licensed money service operators. A register of licensees is accessible from the website of Customs' Money Service Operators Licensing System at eservices.customs.gov.hk/MSOS/wsrh/001s1?request_locale=en.
Members of the public may report any suspected unlicensed money service operation to Customs' 24-hour hotline 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account (email@example.com).