Premier designates task force on Mega Bank probe

The Executive Yuan will form a supervisory task force to investigate violations of U.S. anti-money laundering laws by Mega International Commercial Bank's New York branch, Premier Lin Chuan announced today.

Demanding a swift and thorough probe, the premier said that all persons responsible for the violations will be held accountable and promised no limit to how high the investigation will reach. Although the branch was fined for failure to report suspicious accounts, no money laundering activities have been detected so far, he added.

The task force, headed by Vice Premier Lin Hsi-yao, will facilitate and oversee probes by the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) and the Ministry of Justice (MOJ). Financial and legal experts have also been invited to join the task force, which is expected to meet Wednesday to provide assistance in ongoing investigation efforts.

The MOJ is looking into the branch's failure to declare suspicious transactions while the FSC has been conducting administrative investigations. The commission has so far interviewed 28 bank executives to determine who was involved and what transpired in the breach. Premier Lin directed the commission to release its final findings quickly and hold those persons accountable.

As to suspicions of money laundering and shell company activities, the premier instructed the FSC to look further into Mega Bank's financial controls and business operations. It may take two to three weeks to ascertain where the responsibilities lie and decide on appropriate penalties.

Much has been learned from the Mega Bank case, Premier Lin said. In the future, the government will do more to reform money laundering controls and strengthen compliance and internal control measures. Banks should also increase their compliance staff and make related systems more independent, while boards of directors should intensify monitoring of internal controls. The FSC is in the process of discussing related reforms and will propose concrete measures soon.

Source: Executive Yuan