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Drafts to money-laundering law pass reading

A package of draft amendments to the Anti-Money Laundering Law cleared a legislative committee yesterday with the aim of allowing the country to better contribute to global anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering efforts.

The law amendment will also list suspects engaged in money laundering of more than NT$5 million as criminals, a tightening of the previous level of NT$20 million that is designed to crack down on economic crime.

The package will also criminalize the financing of terrorist acts, including murder, arson, hijacking of trains, ships and airplanes or planting bombs for religious, racial or ideological reasons.

In addition, people caught profiteering through fraud or scams will also be charged as major economic criminals.

The draft package further requires financial institutions to record and report the identities of customers engaging in suspicious deals or currency transactions to units under the Executive Yuan and to keep receipts of all such transactions.

Both outbound and inbound travelers must declare their holdings in foreign currency and travelers checks above a certain ceiling set by the government to customs authorities. Under the current law, departing or entering passengers cannot carry more than US$10,000 with them.

According to government officials, the law revision is expected to help Taiwan solidify its position in the Egmont Group, as it is feared that China might try to force a name change of Taiwan in the group. They pointed out that the group wrote to its 20 members in early May asking them to complete relevant legislation or face suspension of their membership rights.

To better help the international battle against money laundering, the Bureau of Investigation under the Ministry of Justice joined the Egmont Group in 1998 under the designation of “MLPC (Money Laundering Prevention Center), Taiwan,” the officials said.

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