On 29 January 2021, the Companies Registry (the “CR”) published the Guideline on Fit and Proper Criteria for Licensing of Money Lenders (the “Guideline”) to outline the criteria and matters that the CR considers in determining the fitness and properness of applicants for money lenders licences.
Under the current regime, an application can be made to the licensing court under the Money Lenders Ordinance (Cap. 163) (the “MLO”) for the grant, renewal or transfer of a money lenders licence. In assessing whether a person is fit and proper to carry on business as a money lender or to be associated with the business of money-lending, the CR will take into account the following criteria:-
- whether the person has any record of non-compliance with any provisions of the MLO, the Money Lenders Regulations (Cap. 163A) or the licensing conditions issued by the Registrar;
- whether the person has genuine intention and readiness to carry on the business of money-lending as proposed in the licence application and the business plan submitted;
- whether the person has provided the necessary infrastructure and internal control systems to manage risk effectively and provide proper audit trail;
- whether the financial position of the person is suitable for the carrying on of the business of money-lending;
- whether the person, being an individual, is an undischarged bankrupt or being a corporation, is in the course of being wound-up;
- whether the person possesses the relevant skills, knowledge, experience and professionalism necessary to carry on the money-lending business;
- whether the person has the ability to carry out or manage the money-lending business competently, honestly and fairly;
- whether the person has been (1) found for fraud, dishonesty, misfeasance or other misconduct or has been refused, (2) disqualified from being a director in Hong Kong or elsewhere, or (3) is a subject of an investigation or disciplinary action.
The Guideline applies to persons applying for the grant, renewal or endorsement of the money lenders licence under the MLO. The Guideline came into effect on 1 April 2021.
For assistance with application for a money lenders licence or compliance with the fit and proper criteria under the Guideline, please contact us today.