Following is the speech by the Financial Secretary, Mr Henry Tang, at the opening ceremony of the "International Conference - Creating Global Partnership and Synergy in the Fight Against Money Laundering" at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre this morning (February 16) (English only):
Distinguished guests, ladies & gentlemen,
It's my great pleasure to welcome you all to this conference and to Hong Kong. We are "Asia's world city", not only for our world-class infrastructure and cosmopolitan lifestyle, but most important of all, our premier status as an international financial centre.
We are the second largest financial market in Asia, and probably the most global one. More than 70 of the world's top 100 banks have presence in Hong Kong, and many international financial institutions have chosen Hong Kong as their regional headquarters. Last year, we were the largest equity fundraiser in Asia, ahead of London and Tokyo. We are determined to expand our role as a leading financial centre in the world.
Technology has made it easier to communicate instantly across borders and time zones. This is useful not only to bankers and investors, but also to crooks and money launderers - unless we all work together to stop them.
No financial centre is immune from the risk of its infrastructure being misused by money launderers. While New York, London and Hong Kong must do our best individually to protect their markets against money launderers or terrorists, none of us can really succeed on our own. To be effective, all jurisdictions around the world must work together to create a security network so strong and so tight that criminals cannot breach our defence.
The war against money laundering will be difficult and protracted. Sustained and co-ordinated efforts are essential. We are fortunate to have the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF) to lead the fight. It has been doing an excellent job in promoting anti-money laundering awareness and in enhancing standards around the world.
Though a small jurisdiction, Hong Kong has played a significant part in the war against money laundering. Having been the President of the FATF in 2001-02, we know the hard work involved, and the commitment needed from all members to achieve solid and useful results. To stay ahead of the criminals, it is essential to continually review our strategies, improve our skills and plan ahead. That is why this conference is so important. We are pleased to have world experts to share with us their views on the most critical issues relating to money laundering. This would certainly help forge global partnership and create synergy among jurisdictions.
We in Hong Kong know too well the need to be ever vigilant. We have already started to put in place the latest recommendations of the FATF, which will become the new international standard on anti-money laundering. We hope to complete the whole exercise before the end of this year, thereby reinforcing this particular link in the global partnership.
Having the political will is vital for a successful anti-money laundering strategy. Your presence at this conference is already sending a very strong signal - that we are united in the war against money laundering and terrorist financing. I hope you will find the next two days fruitful and rewarding. For those who have come from different corners of the world, I wish you a most pleasant stay in Hong Kong. And of course, don't forget to enjoy our world class dining and shopping experience!
Ends/Wednesday, February 16, 2005