The Law Society of Hong Kong ("the Law Society") has issued a circular on 19 June 2018 ("the Circular") containing the Companies Registry's following comments concerning applications made pursuant to the new Trust and Company Service Providers ("TCSP") licensing regime introduced under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (Cap 615) ("the Ordinance"):
- The Companies Registry has been conducting onsite inspections and interviews with applicants for TCSP licences. It will strictly enforce the legislation by rejecting any application where the applicant or any relevant person of the applicant does not fulfil the "fit-and-proper criteria" as laid down in section 53I of the Ordinance.
- If trust or company services are provided by way of business in Hong Kong through a service company (not via a law firm itself), the service company has to apply for a TCSP license from the Registrar of Companies, notwithstanding that all or some of its directors are solicitors and/or foreign lawyers.
The Circular sets out the Companies Registry's comments to the Law Society and its members which may be caught under the TCSP licensing regime. However, the comments shed light on how the Companies Registry may, more generally, consider licensing applications and provide helpful guidance to TCSPs generally when determining whether they need to apply for a license under the TCSP licensing regime.