Japan considers crackdown on AML and data protection

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TOKYO - A number of control failures at Japanese financial services firms, which occurred even after warnings were issued by the country's regulators, has prompted Japan's finance minister to suggest tougher enforcement penalties be introduced.

In a recent speech, finance minister Kaoru Yosano said financial regulators might have to introduce tougher penalties for financial institutions that fail to properly adhere to data protection and anti-money laundering requirements.

Yosano's comments follow a data breach at Mitsubishi UFJ that led to a former employee of its brokerage unit stealing 1.5 million customer records. Although the Japanese Financial Services Authority (JFSA) ordered Mitsubishi to overhaul its internal security following the incident, Yosano said tougher sanctions might be needed to provide banks greater incentive to deter such episodes.

Meanwhile, Citigroup was ordered by the JFSA to suspend its marketing of individual banking services after its internal controls were found to be inadequate for preventing money laundering.

"Unless financial institutions properly monitor for money laundering, we won't be able to discover fraudulent money flows," said Yosano.

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