Tencent Faces Record Fine for Anti-Money-Laundering Violations

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  • Tencent Faces Record Fine for Anti-Money-Laundering Violations

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    Tencent’s [0700:HK] mobile payment business WeChat Pay could face a record fine for violating the PBoC’s anti-money-laundering rules, as reported by Wall Street Journal on March 14. The exact amount of fine is currently being discussed, but it is likely to exceed hundreds of millions of CNY and break the record for regulatory fines on non-bank payment platforms. The Chinese central bank completed its inspection on WeChat at the end of 2021 and discovered regulatory breaches and lapses, such as permitting illegal transactions of money from gambling activities. The PBoC inspects all regulated financial firms every three years.

    China has recently ramped up its anti-money-laundering surveillance and enforcement. In April 2021, China expanded the scope of its anti-money-laundering law to encompass non-bank payment institutions, online micro-loan enterprises, and consumer finance companies. According to the PBoC’s Anti-Money-Laundering Report for 2020, the central bank conducted related inspections on 614 financial institutions throughout the year, fining 537 institutions a total of CNY526m (USD82.5m) for regulatory breaches. Non-bank institutions face extra challenges in terms of user identity verification. Previously in 2018, Tencent announced its development of an intelligent anti-money-laundering system to leverage big data and AI to authenticate users’ true identities, track transactions, and detect risks, in an attempt to manage rising regulatory pressure.