Hong Kong fines DBS over breaching anti-money laundering rules

FILE PHOTO: A DBS logo on their office building in Singapore

HONG KONG/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The Hong Kong unit of DBS Group Holdings, Singapore's biggest lender, was fined HK$10 million ($1.28 million) by Hong Kong's banking regulator for violating anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing regulations.

The disciplinary action comes after an investigation conducted by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), which looked into control failures of DBS Bank (Hong Kong) between April 2012 and April 2019, the regulator said in a statement on Friday.

The scrutiny by Hong Kong resembles that of rival wealth centre Singapore, which a year ago fined four financial institutions over AML breaches, including DBS.

The bank failed to continuously monitor business relationships and conduct enhanced due diligence in high risk situations. DBS was also found to have failed to keep records on some of its customers, according to the HKMA.

"The HKMA requires banks to put in place effective customer due diligence measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing," Raymond Chan, executive director of the HKMA said in the statement.

"DBS Hong Kong takes our AML obligations seriously and accepts HKMA's decision," a DBS Hong Kong spokesman said in a statement to Reuters.

The issues at hand were sporadic and historical in nature having occurred between April 2012 and April 2019, the spokesman said, adding that the bank has implemented new group policies over the years to continue to detect and manage new money laundering practices.

($1 = 7.8102 Hong Kong dollars)

($1 = 1.3486 Singapore dollars)

(Reporting by Selena Li in Hong Kong and Yantoultra Ngui in Singapore, Editing by Louise Heavens)