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A Guide To: Asia Pacific Group On Money Laundering (APGML)

The Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APGML) is an inter-governmental organization dedicated to implementing international anti-money laundering and counter-financing of terrorism standards in jurisdictions across the Asia-Pacific region.

Tokyo City: Asia Pacific Group On Money Laundering (APGML)

What is the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering?

The APGML was established, following efforts by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in the 1990s to raise global awareness of AML/CFT measures. In that formational phase, Australia set up a Secretariat with the goal of obtaining a commitment from regional partners to create an FATF-style international AML/CFT body. After the creation of the Secretariat, the APGML was officially formed in 1997 following an agreement in Bangkok, Thailand. There were 13 founding members of the APGML: Australia, Bangladesh, China, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, the USA, and Vanuatu.

Established as an ‘intergovernmental task force’, the APGML does not operate under any international or legal convention but instead by agreement between member-states – under terms set out in the APGML Terms of Reference. The establishment of the APGML prompted the introduction of other FATF-style regional bodies (FSRB), including the Caribbean FATF (CFATF), the Eurasian Group (EAG), and the Central Africa AML Group (GABAC). 

In 2021, the APGML has grown to include 41 member-jurisdictions, each of which has satisfied the relevant admission criteria. The admission criteria require members to:

  • Recognize the need to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and proliferation financing. 
  • Recognize the benefits of sharing knowledge and experience. 
  • Take steps to develop, enact, and implement AML/CFT legislation in accordance with international standards.
  • Commit to implementing decisions taken by the APGML. 
  • Commit to the APGML’s mutual evaluation program. 
  • Make contributions to the APGML budget. 

Secretariat: The APGML Secretariat is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and acts as a focal point for all APGML activities. In practice, this involves providing governance support, organizing annual meetings, providing advice and information, implementing technical assistance and training strategy, and coordinating mutual evaluations of APGML members. 

Governance: Oversight of the APGML is provided by its Governance Committee which meets five times per year. The Governance Committee handles matters relating to strategy and finance, and issues with APGML membership. As an institution, the APGML is accountable to its members: accordingly, it maintains an audit framework to demonstrate financial compliance and reports regularly to members on financial matters. 

Observers: In addition to its 41 member jurisdictions, the APGML also includes several observer jurisdictions. These observers are either considering APGML membership or are located outside APAC but are “fully supportive of the work of the APGML”. As of 2021, the APGML has 8 observer jurisdictions: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Tuvalu, France, Germany, Russia, and the United Kingdom. 

The APGML is also supported by a range of international organizations, including the IMF, the World Bank, the OECD, the UN, the Asian Development Bank, the Egmont Group, and INTERPOL. 

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What Does the APGML Do?

The APGML’s role reflects that of FATF in the sense that it works collectively to establish and promote AML/CFT standards across APAC. The AML standards and policy that the APGML structures its role around are based on the 40 Recommendations set out by FATF. In more detail, the APGML’s role entails 5 primary functions:

  • Mutual Evaluation Reports: The APGML assesses the compliance performance of its members in implementing AML/CFT standards within their jurisdictions. The assessments are conducted via a peer-review system and published as Mutual Evaluation Reports (MER). 
  • Training and technical assistance: The APGML is responsible for coordinating technical assistance and training for its members across APAC in order to raise collective AML/CFT standards.
  • Research and analysis: The APGML conducts research and analysis into money laundering and terrorism financing typologies in order to better prepare and equip member states to implement AML/CFT regulations. The scope of APGML research includes criminal trends, methods, and risks, and the vulnerabilities of financial institutions. 
  • Global development: The APGML contributes to the development of international AML/CFT standards, coordinating and working with other FSRBs to achieve its objectives. 
  • Private sector engagement: The APGML works with private sector institutions across APAC, sharing information about international AML developments and offering a forum for those institutions to engage with the APGML and each other. 

The APGML is not a law enforcement or investigative organization and does not directly investigate money laundering and terrorism financing offences. The standards that the APGML develops and promotes are intended to be interpreted by members and implemented via domestic regulations

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