At Issue
11/6/2009 1:52:20 AM EST
Keeping your hands clean: a guide to Hong Kong’s money laundering offences
In this first installment of a two-part series, Gavin Shiu relates the rationale behind laws addressing the economic proceeds of crime, outlines the elements of the offences and discusses their practical impact on legal practitioners.
Posted by LexisNexis

This article in two parts will attempt to describe, and constructively comment on, the current Hong Kong laws in respect of asset recovery and the closely associated offences of money laundering and the reporting thereof, with particular reference to legal practice.

It is correct for the money laundering offences to be referred to in the plural, because Hong Kong’s framework developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s from the English legislation of that era which created two separate money laundering offences. This approach originated with legislation to restrain and confiscate the proceeds of the illegal narcotics trade and create an offence to deal in such property, later adding a separate piece of legislation to police the proceeds from other major activities of organised crime, such as fraud, smuggling (both humans and dutiable goods) and prostitution. More recently, as a result of the international response to the 9/11 terror attacks, there are similar provisions in the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Ordinance (Cap 575) (UNATMO) intended to counter the financing of terrorism.

The genesis for the original English legislation was in a growing realisation in the industrialised world that the traditional laws for combating crime were ineffective because, despite convictions, they left the property generated by crime largely in the hands of the criminals and their organisations. Modern serious crime is motivated by property. Consequently, the convicted serious criminal, while incarcerated, was still able to support his family; on release he could look forward to a comfortable lifestyle with adequate assets to enable resumption of his criminal career. Furthermore, the more tightly controlled criminal organisations, notwithstanding removal of some members for lengthy prison terms, could in turn rely on the huge sums generated by the narcotics trade and other crime to continue to fund the activities of both the organisation and a new generation of leaders. The incarceration of leading members often had little lasting effect on the activities of such groups because of these economic realities.

In addition, the sums generated from criminal activity, principally the illicit narcotics trade in the 1970s and 1980s, though crime patterns have since evolved, were so large that criminal organisations became deeply involved in ransnational schemes to move and disguise the property. When a criminal activity generates substantial profits, the individual or group must control the funds without attracting attention to the underlying activity or the persons involved. Integral to this strategy was the apparent legitimising of the property to hide the source of the funds and to use the property constructively during the process of disguise and movement. This strategy invariably involved the mixing of property; that is, property from different sources, some prima facie legitimate, were mixed with property directly or indirectly generated from different crimes, invariably committed at different times by different individuals. It is this ‘mixed’ property of impossible to prove but doubtful provenance that was of greatest concern, as it was this property that was the most pernicious, seeping into the legitimate economy.

Objectives of the legislation

It is important to keep this backdrop in mind when considering the Hong Kong legislation, for it reveals and clarifies the legislative objectives and the nature of the harms sought to be addressed. The principal legislation in Hong Kong is the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Ordinance (Cap 405) (DTROP) since 1989 and the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance (Cap 455) (OSCO) since 1995. These ordinances are lengthy and introduce novel concepts to the criminal law, for example a duty to report property suspected to represent proceeds of crime or used in connection with crime on every person in the jurisdiction (s 25A(1), Cap 405). They were intended to meet the growing dangers of transnational crime and were Hong Kong’s response to the developing international conventions and strategies.

The recognition that organised crime had grown and industrialised with a concomitant increase in transnational activity resulted in international conventions commencing in the 1970s and gaining momentum in the 1980s, resulting most significantly in the United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances of 1988 (the Vienna Convention), and in 2000 in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (the Palermo Convention). DTROP in Hong Kong was a response to the Vienna Convention relying on the UK reaction to the concerns leading to that Convention. OSCO did not so much anticipate the Palermo Convention which it pre-dated but reflected the same earlier debates.

In response to mounting concern over money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force on money laundering (FATF) was established by the G-7 Summit in Paris in 1989 to develop a coordinated international response. The preeminent task of FATF was to develop its 40 Recommendations which set out the measures members should take to implement effective anti-money laundering programmes, including asset recovery. Following 9/11, a further nine Special Recommendations were added relating to counter-terrorist financing. The Recommendations and their effect on Hong Kong, which is a long time FATF member, will be discussed in the second article. It is impossible to produce a reliable estimate of the amount of money laundered; as a consequence the FATF does not publish any figures in this regard. Suffice it to say that the size of the problem is immense.

Sources

The principal pieces of legislation are DTROP and OSCO as described above, with UNATMO addressing counter-terrorist financing. The High Court Rules (Cap 4A) Orders 115 to 117 are also important, while the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap 525) allows for overseas jurisdictions to apply for restraint and confiscation of property in Hong Kong based on similar proceedings in the requesting jurisdiction.

Elements of the money laundering offences

Although the original English legislation was the foundation for the Hong Kong offences, the English formula was used for only a short period when both DTROP and OSCO were first enacted. In 1995, both ordinances were amended to introduce a number of additions and changes which took into account practical experiences in enforcement. One of the principal amendments was a simpler definition of the s 25 offence than that then used in England.

Unless otherwise stated, references that follow are to OSCO. OSCO and DTROP are almost identical in substance, and the use of OSCO has been predominant recently. The offence is:

“Subject to section 25A, a person commits an offence if, knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that any property in whole or in part directly or indirectly represents any person’s proceeds of an indictable offence, he deals with that property.”

The phrase ‘deals with that property’ represents the actus reus. Property is defined by reference to s 2(1) to s 3 of the Interpretation and General Clauses Ordinance (Cap 1) and this is a wide definition. Under s 2, ‘dealing’ is also widely defined, to include:

(a) receiving or acquiring the property;
(b) concealing or disguising the property (whether by concealing or disguising its nature, source, location, disposition, movement or ownership or any rights with respect to it or otherwise);
(c) disposing of or converting the property;
(d) bringing into or removing from Hong Kong the property;
(e) using the property to borrow money, or as security (whether by way of charge, mortgage or pledge or otherwise).

The words ‘receiving’ and ‘acquiring’ deserve mention. The former could include the receipt of monies into a bank account and the transaction enabling the receipt can be caused by someone other than the recipient, the bank account holder. Similarly, the acquisition of a property could be passive and the transaction caused by another, such as a share transfer into the securities account of the acquirer.

The dealing must have occurred in Hong Kong, although the property may have come from overseas and the property may represent wholly or partly directly or indirectly the proceeds of predicate offences that took place outside this jurisdiction: see Yeung Ah Lung [2004] 4 HKC 477. Under s 25(4) there is no requirement that there be dual criminality; if the activity that took place overseas would have constituted an indictable offence in Hong Kong, that is sufficient. It is unnecessary to prove that an offence did occur overseas and that it was a crime in that jurisdiction.

The property represents?

It is worth highlighting that the actus reus involves dealing not with property which has been defined as the proceeds of an indictable offence, but with any property which the accused knows or has reasonable grounds to believe represents, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly, any person’s proceeds of an indictable offence. This may be regarded as curious. It is defining the quality of the property dealt with (the dealing being the actus reus) as part of the mens rea. The quality of the property is not something that has to be proven. It is evident that this definition causes difficulties in understanding all the elements of the offence.

The provision may be better understood if it is considered in parts.

1. Any property
There is no need to prove that the property is the actual property generated by an indictable offence, such as the cash proceeds of an illicit narcotics sale. In fact, it is defined as property that the accused knows or has reasonable grounds to believe represents (in whole or in part, directly or indirectly) any person’s proceeds of an indictable offence. This definition embraces the situations where the accused knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that the property may
not be the actual property generated by the crime; or where he knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that the property may be partly legitimate and may have been only indirectly linked to the proceeds of an indictable offence. 

There is no qualification to ‘indirect’ and so clearly the accused or the reasonable man could know or have reasonable grounds to believe that the property might be many times removed from the commission of the indictable offence or offences. There is similarly no definition of the term ‘partly’.

It is a matter of statutory construction that results in this description of the element of the offence. It was held that the actus reus of the offence was the dealing in the property and the status of the property was only an element of the mens rea in the Appeal Committee decision of HKSAR v Wong Ping Shui (2001) 4 HKCFAR 29. There, Ribeiro PJ stated that s 25(1):

“… does not define the actus reus as dealing with the proceeds of an indictable offence. It defines it as dealing with ‘property’ which the defendant knows or has reasonable grounds to believe represents the proceeds of an indictable offence.”

In Oei Hengky Wiryo v HKSAR (No 2) (2007) 10 HKCFAR 98, the Court of Final Appeal had its first opportunity in an unanimous judgment to consider the issue in the context of the laundering of property being used in relation to an illegal bookmaking operation.

This renewed attack on the elements of the offence invited the CFA to follow the English House of Lords case of R v Montila [2004] 1 WLR 3141. McHugh NPJ, delivering the judgment of the court, compared the statutory construction of s 25(1) with that of the relevant English legislation and found that, although in some respects similar, the construction of the legislation was critically different. The critical phrase in the UK legislation was ‘any property is, or in whole or in part
directly or indirectly represents, another person’s proceeds of drug trafficking’ (emphasis added), ensuring that the English legislation required the property to in fact be property of the quality stated. The quality of the property was defined as part of the actus reus and not, as in Hong Kong, part of the mens rea. Other arguments were fielded that supported the House of Lords’ approach, but these too were rejected and the CFA affirmed that the natural and ordinary meaning of the sub-section given to it in Wong Ping Shui was correct and Montila did not apply in Hong Kong.

2. Dealing
The actus reus is reduced to the bare dealing (s 2) with property, and the quality of that property as described in s 25(1) does not have to be proven. The quality depends on proof of the mens rea of the offence and that element we shall now consider.

Mens rea: ‘knows or has reasonable grounds to believe’

There are two limbs to the mens rea and the former, ‘knows’, is a subjective limb; that is, the offender must believe in a state of affairs that is true. The latter limb is objective: ‘having reasonable grounds to believe’. It is the objective latter limb that is most often relied on in prosecutions. Briefly, the first limb would arise if the accused confessed or it was proven that he knew the property represented crime proceeds, perhaps if the property came from his own proven indictable offences.

‘Reasonable grounds’ are facts or circumstances that, if known to them, ‘a common sense, right thinking member of the community would consider sufficient to lead a person to hold a particular belief’: HKSAR v Shing Siu Ming [1999] 2 HKC 818 and HKSAR v Lung Ming Chu [2009] 3 HKC 137. The prosecutor must therefore adduce evidence of grounds leading to the conclusion that a reasonable man will believe are sufficient for someone to believe the property represented (in whole or in part, directly or indirectly) any person’s proceeds of an indictable offence. An honest belief that the property is not tainted as defined is not a defence: see Mayo JA in HKSAR v Shing Siu Ming [1999] 2 HKC 818 and McMahon J in HKSAR v Ma Zhujiang [2007] 4 HKLRD 285.

The effect of this second limb of the mens rea is that the reasonable grounds to believe element may be satisfied even though the property may not be or may not represent the proceeds of an indictable offence; it may even be confirmed legitimate money used by the investigatory authorities to assist an informer and an undercover agent to allow a suspect to commit the offence: see HKSAR v Wong Ping Shui, Adam (2001) 4 HKCFAR 29 (involving a conspiracy to commit a s 25(1) offence).

It is unnecessary to prove the precise particular indictable offence when establishing sufficient reasonable grounds to believe that the property represents the proceeds of an indictable offence: see HKSAR v Li Ching [1997] 4 HKC 108.

What must be proven in the second limb are the objective element of reasonable grounds and the subjective element that the accused was aware of those grounds or at least sufficient grounds to satisfy the ‘reasonable man’ test. When the second limb is part of the prosecution case, the belief of the accused is not relevant. He could have an honest belief in the property being legitimate, but if there are reasonable grounds for which it is proven he was aware then he is guilty.

As stated earlier, property that is ‘mixed’ (legitimate and criminal proceeds; from different sources) and that has doubtful provenance but that which is impossible to prove is the concern of this provision. This is the harm being addressed. The objective is to make the offence effective by not requiring proof of provenance beyond a reasonable doubt. Ultimately it is an offence that criminalises risk-taking behaviour in respect of transactions that might involve the proceeds of serious crime. Examples of findings of reasonable grounds illustrate what have been considered sufficient. They can never be exhaustive and much will depend on the facts of a particular case.

The Yam Ho Keung example

When an accused is asked to hold a large sum of money, either personally or in his bank account, by another without further explanation, a reasonable man would be prompted to ask himself what was going on and before long must conclude that:

• it was the proceeds of crime;
• it was for investment in crime;
• it was to be hidden from creditors;
• it was to be hidden from the taxman;
• it was to be hidden from a spouse.

This was the case in HKSAR v Yam Ho Keung [2002] HKCU 1230 (unreported, CACC 555/2001) where a large sum of money, HK$500,000 was received by the accused in cash with no explanation given or sought. He placed it in his own bank account. When required he would have returned the money to the depositor.

The Choi Sui Hey example

In this case it was alleged that the accused conspired to deal with property knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe that it represented the proceeds of drug trafficking (charge 1); and that alternatively he dealt with property knowing or having reasonable grounds to believe it to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence. He was at first instance convicted of the first charge but no verdict was returned in respect of the second.

On appeal (see Secretary for Justice v Choi Sui Hey [2008] 6 HKC 166) the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal to the extent that the conviction for charge 1 was set aside and a conviction on charge 2 was substituted. They were not prepared to find sufficient evidence of reasonable grounds for dealing with property that represented the proceeds of drug trafficking, but were able to conclude that the lending for use of a bank account to others without enquiry was sufficient reasonable ground to believe that the property represented the proceeds of an unspecified indictable offence. The accused had not only allowed his two accounts to be used to receive money but also remitted money overseas. In a second cautioned interview made six weeks after his initial interview on arrest, an explanation of the receipts and remittances were made (he admitted making the remittances) with some supporting documentation produced. He was disbelieved by the trial judge.

The Court of Appeal found:

“If a person either allows another to use his bank account for the transmission of funds or accepts substantial funds from others which he then remits, without enquiry by him or explanation by the others, to third parties unknown to him then, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, the inevitable inference will arise that the holder of the bank account has reasonable grounds to believe that the funds passing through the account or the funds with which he has dealt represent proceeds of an indictable offence.”

It is not difficult to use these examples to construct analogous situations for lawyers in private practice. A client provides money to his solicitor for a transaction but provides too much. After the transaction is completed he asks that the balance be sent to a creditor in another country. The solicitor will have followed Practice Direction P throughout the transaction. However, whether he should proceed to send the client money to a third party must be considered balancing all the known circumstances against s 25(1). Factors to take into account might include:

• the absolute size of the balance to be remitted;
• the size relative to the original transaction;
• the CDD information on the client;
• the type and kind of transaction originally performed;
• the destination for the remitted money and its apparent recipient; and
• any explanation of the client for both the too large deposit and for the monies being sent to the specified third party and information about them.

Depending on the answers the solicitor might consider utilising the statutory defences and the need for a suspicious transaction report (STR). He should think about not completing the transaction as asked.

There is the statutory defence provided by s 25(2) where the accused intended to disclose to an authorised officer such knowledge, suspicion or matter as mentioned in s 25A(1) but did not do so and failed to do due to a reasonable excuse. The reasonable excuse relates to the failure to disclose in accordance with s 25A(2) and has never been litigated.

Section 25A is the provision that makes it a summary offence to not report knowledge or suspicion about property that:

(a) in whole or in part directly or indirectly represents any person’s proceeds of;
(b) was used in connection with; or
(c) is intended to be used in connection with; an indictable offence.

Section 25A will be analysed in the second article of this series when it will be placed in the context of reporting, asset recovery and the FATF recommendations.

Sentences

The sentences have shown a considerable range. The maximum sentence under s 25(3) is 14 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to HK$5 million on indictment and summarily imprisonment for three years and a fine of HK$500,000.

In Choi Sui Hey, the Court of Appeal considered an application by the Secretary for Justice for a review of sentence. The accused had been sentenced to 18 months’ imprisonment suspended for three years. The court stated that it was well established that the offence was serious and would normally attract a custodial sentence, although there are no guidelines. It observed that if convicted of dealing for an unspecified indictable offence this should not be regarded as a matter for mitigation. This had been first stated in HKSAR v Xu Xia Li [2004] 4 HKC 16. There was no justification for the suspended sentence and an immediate custodial sentence after review was imposed of two years.

There are some factors that should be taken into account, with degrees of weight that may vary according to the facts:

• the amount of money laundered (not the profit): HKSAR v Lee Wai-yiu CACC 100/2006;
• the degree of sophistication, the length of time it continued and the level of the defendant’s participation: HKSAR v Javid Kamran (unreported, CACC 400/2004);
• any international element: HKSAR v Chen Zhen Chu [2007] 5 HKC 505; and
• the accused’s knowledge of the underlying offences may be an aggravating factor if those offences are particularly serious such as drug trafficking, human smuggling and other serious transactional crime: Chen Zhen Chu.

Sentences have reflected these factors and custodial sentences of several years are not unusual for the more serious forms of money laundering. In Chen Zhen Chu, the Court of Appeal signalled that the seriousness and prevalence of money laundering offences may in future warrant, in appropriate cases, more robust sentences than those imposed in similar cases cited to the court.

Conclusion

The money laundering offences have a history rooted in the domestic and international concern that developed in recent decades as organised crime groups and others increasingly used the system of world commerce to launder large amounts of property. The legislation had to have as an objective not a narrow approach against crime proceeds but a broader-based one, against property that represented, wholly or partly, directly or indirectly, the proceeds of crime. Such property generally had a doubtful but an impossible to prove provenance. The solution was to introduce an offence where the quality of the property was not the actus reus but part of the mens rea. In addition, the mens rea had an objective limb that centred not on the accused’s belief but on whether he was aware of objective circumstances that would lead a common sense, right thinking member of the community to believe the property represented the proceeds of crime.



Gavin Shiu
Senior Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions
Department of Justice

 

不牽涉於犯罪得益:香港清洗黑錢罪行指引 
邵家勳先生在其分為兩部分論述的第一部分中,闡析針對犯罪經濟得益之法例的背後理據,概述有關罪行的要件,並討論它們對法律執業者的實際影響。

本文分為兩部分,旨在描述涉及資產追討及與此密切相關的清洗黑錢罪行及其舉報的香港現行法律,對其加以建設性的評論,尤其關注法律實務操作。

在談及清洗黑錢罪行時,將其視為多項罪行是有道理的,因為香港於1980年代後期及1990年代初建立的法律框架借鑒了當時的英國法例,創建了兩種單獨的清洗黑錢罪行。這種做法緣起於立法以遏制和沒收非法毒品交易所得,並就該等財產的處理訂立罪行,後來又增補一項單獨法例,管制其他主要有組織犯罪活動的得益,例如詐騙、走私(包括人口和關稅商品)和賣淫。近年來,基於國際上對9/11恐怖襲擊的回應,《聯合國(反恐怖主義措施)條例》(第575章)(《反恐條例》)亦出現類似條文,意在打擊恐怖份子籌資活動。

最初英國法例的淵源在於,工業化國家日益意識到,打擊犯罪的傳統法律失去效果,因為這些法律儘管可以定罪,但卻讓犯罪所得的財產基本上落入罪犯及其組織手中。當代嚴重犯罪的動因是求財。因此,被定罪的重案犯雖然入獄,但卻依然能夠供養家庭;釋放後,他們有望過著舒適的生活,並有充足的資產供其重操犯罪故業。而且,控制較為嚴密的犯罪組織,即便是將其部分成員判處長期徒刑,却依然可以依靠毒品交易及其他犯罪賺取的巨額資金,繼續資助本組織及新一代領導人的活動。

由於上述的經濟現實,故即使領導成員入獄,亦往往對此類團夥很少產生持久的影響。此外,犯罪活動賺取的金錢(1970年代和1980年代主要是非法毒品交易,但此後,犯罪形態有所改變)數額如此龐大,使得犯罪組織精心策劃跨國圖謀,以便轉移、掩藏這些財產。犯罪活動產生豐厚盈利後,個人或團體必須控制資金,並令其背後的活動或涉及的人員免受關注。這項策略的關鍵環節在於讓上述財產表面合法化,以掩蓋資金來源,並在掩藏和轉移過程中有效使用財產。這項策略必定涉及到財產的混合,也就是說,將不同來源(有些為表面合法來源)的財產與各種犯罪行為(一般是不同時間由不同人員犯下的罪行)直接或間接產生的財產相混合。最令人擔心的便是這種無法證實但來源可疑的「混合」財產,因為這種財產滲入合法經濟活動後,所產生的危害最大。

立法的目標

在考慮香港的立法時,必須牢記上述背景,因為它反映、明確了立法目標,以及希望應對的危害性質。香港的主要法例是1989年後的《販毒(追討得益)條例》(第405章)及1995年後的《有組織及嚴重罪行條例》(第455章)。上述條例文字冗長,引入了刑事法律中的新概念,例如,引入申報責任,匯報本司法管轄區被懷疑代表犯罪得益或用於犯罪相關活動的個人財產(第25A(1)條,第405章)。該等法律意在應對日益增加的跨國犯罪危險,並且是香港對不斷發展的國際公約和策略的回應。

由於認識到有組織犯罪規模擴大並趨於產業化,而跨國犯罪活動亦隨之增加,1970年代起開始制定國際公約,這種趨勢在1980年代愈發強烈,其中最重大的成果便是1988年《聯合國禁止非法販運麻醉藥品和精神藥物公約》(《維也納公約》)和2000年的《聯合國打擊跨國有組織犯罪公約》(《巴勒莫公約》)。香港的《販毒(追討得益)條例》是對《維也納公約》的回應,英國對致使制定該公約的關切反應,是該條例的基礎。《有組織及嚴重罪行條例》雖未如此明顯地預示此後的《巴勒莫公約》,但亦反映了與早期相同的討論內容。

由於對清洗黑錢問題日益關切,七國集團在1989年巴黎峰會上成立了打擊清洗黑錢財務行動特別組織(FATF),以制定協調一致的國際對策。FATF的首要任務是制定《40條建議》,其中列明成員國實施有效反洗錢計劃所應當採取的措施,包括追討資產。9/11事件後,又增補了九條與打擊恐怖份子籌資活動相關的《特別建議》。上述建議及其對香港(FATF的長期成員)的影響,將在第二篇文章中討論。由於不可能對清洗的黑錢金額進行可靠的估計,因此,FATF並不公佈這方面的數字。該問題涉及的金額極其龐大,瞭解這點便已足夠。

來源

主要的相關法例為上文描述的《販毒(追討得益)條例》和《有組織及嚴重罪行條例》,而《反恐條例》涉及打擊恐怖份子籌資活動。《高等法院規則》(第4A章)的第115號及第117號命令亦為重要,而《刑事事宜相互法律協助條例》(第525章)使得境外司法管轄區可以申請依照所請求司法管轄區的相似法律程序,約制、沒收位於香港的財產。

清洗黑錢罪行的要件

雖然最初的英國法例是香港罪行的基礎,但《販毒(追討得益)條例》和《有組織及嚴重罪行條例》當初雙雙制定後,英國的準則僅使用了一小段時間。1995年,上述兩項條例被修訂,以納入若干增補和變更,其中考慮到執法中的實際經驗。其中一項主要修訂相比先前英國的做法,簡化了第25條的定義。

除非另有說明,以下提述均是指《有組織及嚴重罪行條例》。《有組織及嚴重罪行條例》和《販毒(追討得益)條例》實質上基本相同,而近來主要採用的是《有組織及嚴重罪行條例》。該項罪行是:

「除第25A條另有規定外,如有人知道或有合理理由相信任何財產全部或部分、直接或間接代表任何人從可公訴罪行的得益而仍處理該財產,即屬犯罪。」

「處理該財產」一詞代表致罪行為。財產的定義參見《釋義及通則條例》(第1章)第2(1)條至第3條,這是一個寬泛的定義。

依照第2條,「處理」的定義亦較為寬泛,包括:

(a) 收受或取得該財產;
(b) 隱藏或掩飾該財產(不論是隱藏或掩飾該財產的性質、來源、所在位置、處置、調動或擁有權或與其有關的任何權利或其他方面的事宜);
(c) 處置或轉換該財產;
(d) 將該財產運入香港或調離香港;
(e) 以該財產借貸,或作保證(不論是藉押記、按揭或質押或其他方式)。

「收受」和「取得」這兩個詞值得一提。前者可以包括將資金收入銀行帳戶,而實現收受的交易可以由收款人(即銀行帳戶持有人)以外的其他人所導致。同樣,取得財產亦可採取被動方式,由他人導致交易,例如將股份轉入取得人的證券帳戶。

處理行為必須發生在香港,但財產可能來自於境外,而該財產可能全部或部分、直接或間接代表本司法管轄區之外發生的所述罪行的得益:參見Yeung Ah Lung [2004] 4 HKC 477。依照第25(4)條,並不一定要存在雙重犯罪;如果境外發生的行為若在香港發生即已構成可公訴罪行,這點便已足夠,不必證明某項罪行確實在境外發生,並在該司法管轄區屬於犯罪。

財產代表什麼?

值得強調的是,致罪行為所涉及的,並非是處理該些被界定為屬於可公訴罪行得益的財產,而是處理被控人知道或有合理理由相信全部或部分、直接或間接代表任何人從可公訴罪行的得益的任何財產。

這可能被視為怪異,它其實是將所處理財產的性質(處理行為是致罪行為)界定為致罪意念的一部分。財產的性質並非是需要證明的東西。顯然,這一定義會在理解該項罪行的全部要件時造成困難。

將該條文拆成幾部分考慮,或許會更容易理解。

1. 任何財產
並無必要證明有關財產為可公訴罪行產生的實際財產,例如非法出售毒品的現金得益。事實上,它被界定為被控人知道或有合理理由相信(全部或部分、 直接或間接)代表任何人從可公訴罪行的得益的財產。該項定義既包括被控人知道或有合理理由相信該財產可能並非犯罪產生的實際財產的情形,亦包括其知道或有合理理由相信該財產可能部分合法, 並可能與可公訴罪行的得益僅有間接關聯的情形。

「間接」並未限定條件,因此顯然,被控人或合理人士可以知道或有合理理由相信,該財產可能多次去除於觸犯可公訴罪行或犯罪行為。同樣,「部分」一詞亦未作界定。 對罪行要件作出如此描述,是法定解釋造成的結果。上訴委員會在對HKSAR v Wong Ping Shui (2001)4 HKCFAR 29案件的裁決中認為,罪行的致罪行為是處理財產,而財產的狀態僅為致罪意念的要件。 為此,李義法官指出,第25(1)條:

「⋯並非將致罪行為定義為處理可公訴罪行的得益,而是定義為處理被告人知道或有合理理由相信代表可公訴罪行的得益的『財產』。」

Oei Hengky Wiryo v HKSAR (No 2) (2007) 10 HKCFAR 98案件中,終審法院在一致判決中首次有機會在清洗用於非法收受賭注的財產的案件背景下考慮這個問題。 此番對罪行要件的重新攻擊要求終審法院遵循英國上議院案件R v Montila [2004] 1 WLR 3141。終審法院非常任法官馬曉義在下達法院的判決時,將第25(1)條的法定解釋與相關英國法例相比較,並裁定:雖然在某些方面有所相似,但該法例的解釋迥然不同。英國法例中的關鍵字句在於「任何財產屬於,或者全部或部分、直接或間接代表另一人的販毒得益」(加以強調),從而確保了英國法例要求該財產確實是具有所述性質的財產。財產的性質被確定為致罪行為而非(如香港)致罪意念的組成部分。還有人提出其他論點,支持上議院的做法,但均遭到駁回,終法院肯定,Wong Ping Shui案件中對該條款賦予的自然、普通含義是正確的,Montila判例不適用於香港。

2. 處理行為
致罪行為被簡化為僅僅是處理(第2條)財產,而不必證明第25(1)條中描述的財產性質。該性質取決於對罪行致罪意念的證明,而我們現在要考慮這個要件。

致罪意念:「知道或有合理理由相信」

致罪意念由兩部分構成,前一部分「知道」乃主觀要素,也就是說,犯罪者必須相信事情的某種真實狀態;有一部分為客觀要素:「有合理理由相信」。檢控中最經常依賴的正是後一個客觀要素。簡言之,如果被控人承認或被證明其知道財產代表犯罪得益(也許倘該財產來自其自身被證實的可公訴罪行),第一個要素即得以成立。

「合理理由」是指有關事實或情形,如果該事實或情形為人所知,「一個具備常識,思維正常的社群成員將會認為足以促使一個人持有某個特定觀點」:HKSAR v Shing Siu Ming [1999] 2 HKC 818 和HKSAR v Lung Ming Chu [2009] 3 HKC 137。 因此,控方必須推斷存在理據,從而得出結論:一位合理人士認為這些理由足以讓某人相信相關財產(全部或部分、直接或間接)代表任何人從可公訴罪行的得益。真誠相信財產並沒有如所界定的蒙上污點並非一項抗辯理由:參見梅賢玉法官在HKSAR v Shing Siu Ming [1999] 2 HKC 818案件及麥明康法官在HKSAR v Ma Zhujiang [2007] 4 HKLRD 285案件中的觀點。

致罪意念的第二個要素造成這樣的結果:即使財產可能不屬於或不代表可公訴罪行的得益,「合理理由相信」要件亦可能得到滿足,甚至可以是調查機關用於協助線人和臥底警員讓嫌疑人犯下罪行的確證合法款項:參見HKSAR v Wong Ping Shui, Adam (2001) 4 HKCFAR 29(涉及串謀觸犯第25(1)條所述罪行)。

倘若確定有充分合理理由相信相關財產代表可公訴罪行的得益,便不必明確證實具體的可公訴罪行:參見HKSAR v Li Ching [1997] 4 HKC 108。

在第二部分,必須證明「合理理由」這個客觀要件,以及「被控人知曉上述理由或至少是滿足『合理人士』驗證的充分理由」這個主觀要件。倘若第二部分是控方的部分理據,則被控人的相信便無關重要。他可以真誠相信財產是合法的,但如果有合理理由證明他知曉,那麼便可對其定罪。正如上文所述,「混合」財產(合法與犯罪得益;來源各不相同),以及來源可疑,但無法證實的財產是該項條文的關注點,這是正被針對處理的危害。其目的並不是要求毫無合理疑點地證明該項罪
行。說到底,這項罪行是讓從事可能涉及嚴重犯罪的得益方面交易的冒險行徑成為犯罪。裁定合理理由的案例只是說明什麼被視為充分條件。它們不可能窮盡一切情形,很多情況下,還須視具體案情而
定。

Yam Ho Keung的例子

倘若被控人被要求親自或通過其銀行帳戶持有大筆資金而不作進一步解釋,合理人士立即會自問發生什麼情況,而不久後必定會得出下列結論:

• 該資金是犯罪得益;
• 該資金用於犯罪投資;
• 該資金要向債權人隱瞞;
• 該資金要向稅務人員隱瞞;
• 該資金要向配偶隱瞞。

HKSAR v Yam Ho Keung [2002] HKCU 1230(未報導,CACC 555/2001)案件便是這種情況。在該案件中,被控人收受大筆現款(50萬港元),卻既沒有得到,亦沒有尋求解釋。他將其存入自己的銀行帳戶。如果有要求,他會將該資金歸還存款人。

Choi Sui Hey的例子

在該案件中,被控人被指稱串謀處理財產,該人士知道或有合理理由相信該財產代表販毒得益(第一項指控);或者說,他處理財產,同時知道或有合理理由相信該財產代表可公訴罪行的得益。在原訟法庭,他就第一項指控被定罪,但法庭未就第二項指控作出判決。

在上訴中(參見Secretary for Justice v Choi Sui Hey [2008] 6 HKC 166),上訴法庭判決上訴得直,使得第一項指控的定罪被推翻,而代之以根據第二項來定罪。法庭並不預期在處理代表販毒得益的財產方面找到具合理理由的充分證據,但卻可以裁定:不加詢問而將銀行帳戶借給他人使用,便已有充足的合理理由相信該財產代表沒有指明的可公訴罪行的得益。被控人不僅任由自己的兩個帳戶用於收受資金,並且還將資金匯往境外。在被控人被逮捕之時接受初次查問後的六個星期,被控人於接受警誡後的查問當中,對收受和匯出資金作出了解釋(他承認匯出資金),並出具了一些佐證文件。原審法官並不接納他的陳述。

上訴法庭裁定:

「如果一人允許另一人使用其銀行帳戶傳送資金,或接受來自他人的大額資金,然後在其不 加詢問或要求他人作出解釋的情況下,將資金匯往當時其不熟悉的第三方,那麼,如果沒有
相反證據證明,不可避免的推斷即告成立,即:銀行帳戶的持有人有合理理由相信,在帳戶中流動的資金,或他所處理的資金代表可公訴罪行的得益。」

利用上述例子,不難構想出私人執業中的律師可能遇上的類似情形。某位客戶向其律師提供資金用於某項交易,但提供資金過多。交易完成後,他要求將餘額匯往另一個國家的債權人。律師將會在整個交易遵循《實務指引P》。然而,他是否應當繼續將客戶資金匯給第三方,這便必須將所有已知情況與第25(1)條來權衡考慮。需要考量的因素包括:

• 將要匯出的餘額的絕對數目;
• 相對於原交易的規模;
• 客戶的CDD資料;
• 原來執行的交易類型和種類;
• 匯出資金的目的地及表面收款人;
• 客戶對存款數額過大及自己匯往指定第三方的任何解釋,以及資金的相關情況。

根據回答,律師可以考慮利用法定抗辯,並考慮是否需要作出可疑交易舉報。他應當考慮不完成所要求的交易。

第25(2)條便提供了這樣的法定抗辯,在此情況下,被控人意圖向獲授權人員披露第25A(1)條提及的知悉、懷疑或事宜,但沒有這樣做,並由於合理藉口而沒有做到。該合理藉口是關於未能根據
第25A(2)條的規定作出披露,以及從來沒有進行訴訟。

依據第25A條的規定,不舉報對下列財產的知悉或懷疑,構成循簡易程序定罪的罪行:

(a) 全部或部分、直接或間接代表任何人從可公訴罪行的得益;
(b) 曾在與可公訴罪行有關的情況下使用;或
(c) 擬在與可公訴罪行有關的情況下使用。

本系列的第二篇文章將對第25A條進行分析,在報告、資產追討及FATF建議的背景下進行討論。

判刑

該等判刑顯示具相當大的程度差距。根據第25(3)條規定,循公訴程序的最高刑罰為監禁14年,並處不超過500萬港元罰款;循簡易程序為監禁3年,並處50萬港元罰款。

Choi Sui Hey案件中,上訴法庭考慮了律政司司長要求覆核判刑的申請。被控人曾被判18個月監禁,緩刑3年。法庭表示,雖然沒有具體指引,但可以明確的是,該罪行性質嚴重,一般會招致扣押刑罰。法庭指出,如果確定處理行為是沒有指明的可公訴罪行,則不應當將其視為可輕判的事宜。HKSAR v Xu Xia Li [2004] 4 HKC 16案件首先陳述了這一點。緩刑並無理據支持,經過覆核後,法庭判決兩年的扣押刑罰,即時執行。

應當將有些因素納入考慮,其重要程度根據情節而有所差異:

• 清洗的資金數額(而非利潤):HKSAR v Lee Waiyiu CACC 100/2006;
• 複雜程度、持續時間長短,以及被告人的參與程度:HKSAR v Javid Kamran(未公佈,CACC 400/2004);
• 任何國際元素:HKSAR v Chen Zhen Chu [2007] 5 HKC 505;
• 如果罪行特別嚴重,例如販毒、販賣人口及其他嚴重交易罪行,被控人對相關罪行的瞭解可能是加重刑罰的因素:Chen Zhen Chu

判刑反映出上述因素,對於較為嚴重的清洗黑錢形式,數年的扣押刑罰亦不罕見。在Chen Zhen Chu案件中,上訴法庭暗示,鑒於清洗黑錢罪行的嚴重及氾濫程度, 在未來的相關案件中,可能需要判處比
向法庭援引的類似案件更重的刑罰。

結論

由於有組織犯罪集團和其他人日益利用世界商業體系清洗巨額財產,近數十年來, 境內外對清洗黑錢罪行的關切日趨強烈。立法的目標不應當是採取打擊犯罪得益的狹隘做法,而是採取更加廣泛的手段,打擊全部或部分、直接或間接代表犯罪得益的財產。此類財產一般來源可疑,但無法證實。解決辦法是訂立相關罪行,使得財產性質不構成致罪行為,而成為致罪意念的組成部分。此外,致罪意念具有一個客觀要素,它所關注的並非被控人是否相信,而是他是否知曉將會導致具有常識、思維正常的社群成員相信財產乃代表犯罪得益的這一客觀情形。

 

律政司
高級助理刑事檢控專員
邵家勳


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