According to the SCMP thousands of bank accounts in Hong Kong have been used to collect and launder about HK$4 billion (approx. US$500 million) by local and international fraudsters in the past year. The article states many account holders were mainlanders believed to have been recruited by “underground” money exchanges from mainland China, who worked with the fraudsters to collect and launder their ill gotten gains.
The online banking services from the banks would be used by the fraudsters to control the account which were usually opened for more than a year before being used to collect and launder money. At least 3,000 such accounts are said to exist according to one source with many more yet to be uncovered, and about half were business accounts and the rest personal accounts.
This article sheds some light on why banks in Hong Kong are notorious for being difficult to open accounts with, especially for foreigners. The government has an important role to play here with legislation, regulation, and monitoring of the system essential to protect the financial institutions from such abuse, and to support the banks in their effort to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.