Students applying to join the accounting profession in Hong Kong must now consent to let police check whether they have a criminal record and must provide fingerprints if asked.

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) told HKFP that the new requirement had been suggested by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international organisation combating money laundering.

Photo: Wikicommons.

Previously, applicants were expected to voluntarily disclose any criminal record.

HKICPA is the only body in Hong Kong allowed to register certified public accountants and grant them a certificate to practise.

According to a Facebook post from Accounting Bro’Sis Labour Union, student accountants will have to sign an authorisation allowing police to pass on information about any criminal record to the HKICPA. They must also agree to give fingerprints to verify any such record.

“The union thinks that this is completely unnecessary and unreasonable. We request the HKICPA immediately cancel the related requirements,” it said.

Accountant and former lawmaker Kenneth Leung said the Legislative Council had already passed several new laws last year to combat money-laundering, in response to the FATF’s request.

Leung told Ming Pao that he thought the HKICPA had not properly considered how to implement the FATF’s guidelines.

police emblem
File photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

The HKICPA said that, according to the Professional Accountants Ordinance, any qualified accountant must be “of good character and… a fit and proper person,” and that the new requirement was to ensure that regulations meet international standards.

It said an applicant would only be required to give fingerprints if any criminal record was discovered.

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Candice is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. She previously worked as a researcher at a local think tank. She has a BSocSc in Politics and International Relations from the University of Manchester and a MSc in International Political Economy from London School of Economics.