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HKPF and SFC Form Joint Working Group to Tackle Illicit Activities in VATPs

The Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) have established a dedicated working group aimed at enhancing collaboration in monitoring and investigating illegal activities related to Virtual Asset Trading Platforms (VATPs). The formation of this group comes in the wake of ongoing investigations into the Dubai-based JPEX exchange and aims to bolster regulatory oversight in the rapidly evolving crypto market.

The working group was officially established on October 4, 2023, following a high-level meeting between the two parties on September 28, 2023. The group comprises officials from the HKPF’s Commercial Crime Bureau, Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, and Financial Intelligence and Investigations Bureau, as well as the SFC’s Enforcement Division and Intermediaries Division.

The primary objectives of the working group are to:

1. Facilitate the sharing of information on suspicious activities and breaches related to VATPs.

2. Implement a mechanism to assess the risks associated with suspicious VATPs.

3. Enhance coordination and collaboration in related investigations.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (Crime), Ms. Eve Chung, emphasized the importance of the working group, stating, “The implementation of the new platform between the Police and the SFC is instrumental to fast-tracking vital intelligence exchange and joint collaboration in responses to the challenges arising from VATPs, so as to better protect the general public of Hong Kong.”

Similarly, the SFC’s Executive Director of Enforcement, Mr. Christopher Wilson, noted, “We have always valued our working relationship with the Police and we look forward to our even closer collaboration in deploying our respective expertise and resources in combatting problematic VATPs and protect the interest of investors.”

This initiative is part of a broader effort by Hong Kong regulators to tighten crypto market regulations. Days before the high-level meeting, 11 individuals were detained for questioning over their possible involvement in the JPEX scandal, where the SFC alleges that the firm has been operating in the region without a license. The SFC has since published a list of all licensed, deemed licensed, closing down, and application-pending exchanges, along with a list of “suspicious VATPs.”

Image source: Shutterstock

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