A high degree of integrity in the financial systems could help maintain the role of Hong Kong as an international financial centre. This requires a joint effort from all stakeholders to combat money laundering, and the estate agency sector does share the responsibility by conducting a series of measures, including performing customer due diligence.
To this end, the Estate Agents Authority (“EAA”) has guidelines for estate agents to follow and recently the guidelines have been updated in response to the latest miscellaneous amendments made to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Cap.615). The guidelines are very comprehensive and might not be easy for consumers to understand. Let me highlight some major key points of the guidelines: estate agents must take necessary actions to mitigate the risk of money-laundering and terrorist financing, including conducting risk assessment, implementing customer due diligence measures, maintaining relevant records and reporting suspicious transactions.
I would like to remind all consumers that you have also an important part to play in combatting money laundering/terrorist financing in the sale and purchase of property transactions. As estate agents must verify their customers’ identity, consumers’ cooperation in providing valid identification documents and other necessary documents/information would help facilitate the whole verification process.
I would also like to reassure consumers that the handling of personal data by estate agents is strictly regulated. Estate agents must follow relevant guidelines issued by the EAA on the protection of clients’ personal data. They can only collect such data to carry out estate agency work and such data must not be used for other purposes without clients’ consent. Meanwhile, they must also take all practicable steps to safeguard any documents containing personal data from loss or unauthorised access by third parties.
Chief Executive Officer
Estate Agents Authority