Hong Kong’s Financial Services and Treasury Bureau (FSTB) is one of the policy bureaux which functions under the auspices of the government of Hong Kong. Its primary responsibility is that of overseeing, managing, and developing the government’s policies related to finances and the treasury of Hong Kong. The FSTB was established in 2002. It came about after a merger of the Financial Services Bureau, which had previously been known as the Financial Services Branch during the colonial era, and the Financial Bureau, which had previously been known as the Finance Branch during the British colonial era. Both of the bureaux which merged had been established in 1997 after the conclusion of the colonial era.
The FSTB also plays a role in bolstering Hong Kong’s attempts to guard against the effects of money laundering and terrorist financing. Thus, one other key responsibility of the FSTB is that of working with the government of Hong Kong in order to formulate policies which counter money laundering and terrorist financing in Hong Kong. It also monitors the efficacy of such policies, ensures that the government and its policies are in compliance with global standards which defend countries and their economies from money laundering and terrorist financing, and facilitate cooperation between all parties involved in such matters. The FSTB is also supported by the Security Bureau (SB). Together, the FSTB and SB work on solving problems related to issues such as customer due diligence, the declaration and disclosure system for currency and bearer negotiable instruments, and record-keeping measures to be used by designated non-financial businesses and professions. Thus, the FSTB does not complete its tasks alone; it works with the Hong Kong government’s other bureaux in order to ensure that all of its duties can be properly completed.
The FSTB is part of a Central Coordinating Committee (CCC). Each organization which is a member of the CCC works to assist in the implementation and enforcement of laws and regulations related to money laundering and terrorist financing in Hong Kong. Other than the FSTB, other members of the CCC include the SB, the Department of Justice, financial regulators, law enforcement agencies, and certain other bureaux and departments of the Hong Kong government. The leader of the CCC is the Financial Secretary. The members of the CCC, including the FSTB, meet to discuss the latest developments in money laundering and terrorist financing in Hong Kong, how to best guard against them, and future policy changes in order to adapt to international issues involving such matters.
The FSTB also leads an anti-money laundering coordination and supervision group. The other members of this group include several other of Hong Kong’s policy bureaux and certain law enforcement agencies. Membership of this group is solely through invitation. Members of this group discuss how the laws of Hong Kong designed to counter money laundering and terrorist financing are to be implemented as well as the effects that such laws ought to bring about.
On certain occasions, the FSTB even has the ability to affect change in the Companies Ordinance, which is the primary law that governs companies and their incorporation in Hong Kong. It has the power to propose amendments to the Companies Ordinance which would have widespread effects on companies which have been established in Hong Kong. However, in most cases, such amendments only apply to companies limited by guarantee or by shares as well as unlimited companies. Companies which are publicly listed usually remain unaffected by such legal changes because they are primarily governed by the Securities and Futures Ordinance.
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