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Hong Kong Asset Tracing: Letter of No Consent ≠ Freezing Order 香港资产追踪: 不同意书 ≠ 冻结令

17 April 2024

A recent Court of Final Appeal decision upholds the constitutionality of the letters of no consent regime as operated by the Hong Kong Police Force. 终审法院最近的一项判决维持了香港警方实施不同意书制度的合宪性。

With the increase in fraud and scams, we have been helping scam victims to trace and recover lost funds. Very often, the lost funds were transferred and dissipated to multiple bank accounts in one day. In most cases, the Hong Kong Police Force (“HKPF”) was very efficient and helpful in issuing Letters of No Consent (“LNC”) to banks, resulting in an efficient tracing and freezing of funds in the recipients’ bank accounts.

When the decision of the Court of First Instance in Tam Sze Leung & Ors v Commissioner of Police [2021] HKCFI 3118 was first handed down, there were serious concerns as to whether HKPF would implement any change to the LNC regime affecting the prospect of recovering lost funds. The Court of Appeal and the Court of Final Appeal decisions are thankfully both assuring and comforting.

The CFA Decision

On 10 April 2024, the Court of Final Appeal handed down its decision: Tam Sze Leung & Ors v Commissioner of Police [2024] HKCFA 8, confirming that:-

1. a LNC issued by HKPF is an act within its power as prescribed by law (i.e. the Police Force Ordinance (Cap 232) and the Force Procedures Manual) and is proportionate to a legitimate aim;

2. the effect of a LNC is often mischaracterised as freezing of bank accounts; in fact, the act of freezing was decided and done by banks; and

3. a consent given by HKPF under s.25A(2)(a) of Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance (Cap. 455) (“OSCO”) is to confer immunity from liability under s.25(1) of OSCO, i.e. an offence of dealing with property if a person knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that such property represents proceeds of crime, before dealing with the property in question. No consent simply means that no immunity is conferred under s.25A(2)(a) of OSCO. Immunity can also be conferred by disclosure after one deals with such property without HKPF’s consent under s.25A(2)(b) of OSCO.

It is therefore untenable for the appellants to assert that the LNC regime is unconstitutional as property rights and other rights provided for in the Basic Law are not engaged in the LNC regime.

Practical Considerations

To trigger the LNC regime, a victim must file a report to HKPF (which can be done online) setting out details of the scam and the recipient’s bank account details in Hong Kong.

Although a LNC is not a freezing order, banks, being risk-averse institutions, often freeze the relevant bank account after receiving a LNC from HKPF. This improves the prospect of recovering lost funds. That said, in our experience, there are occasions where a LNC cannot be issued or cannot ultimately result in freezing. For instance:-

(1) the balance of the relevant bank account in question is below the threshold set by HKPF at the time;

(2) the account holder is a licensed money service operator or a licensed trust service provider; and

(3) the LNC regime involves multiple departments within HKPF, resulting in communications gaps and errors.

Victims always have the option to apply for a civil injunction order, prohibiting the account holders from dealing with the lost funds in their bank accounts. This requires a careful analysis of risks, costs and benefits, as the risks and costs may outweigh the potential benefits.

Recipients of lost funds are not necessarily fraudsters. They might well be a victim of another scam, which delivered goods or provided services in consideration of the funds received. In law, they may have a valid defence to claims by the victims.

The prospect of recovery always depends on how fast the victims realise that they fall victim to scams and take action to recover the lost funds. We are experienced in advising and helping victims and recipients of lost funds.

随着欺诈和骗局的增加,我们一直在帮助受骗者追踪和追回被骗的资金。 很多时候,损失的资金在一天之内被转移到多个银行账户并被耗尽。 在大多数情况下,香港警务处("警方")非常有效率地向银行发出不同意书("不同意书"),从而有效地追踪和冻结收款人银行账户中的资金。

香港特别行政区高等法院原讼法庭就 谭思良 及 其他人 诉 警务处处长 [2021] HKCFI 3118 一案作出裁决之初,业界对警方是否会对不同意书机制作出任何调整从而影响追讨损失资金的机会深表担忧。 幸好,上诉法院和终审法院的裁决令人感到安心和欣慰。


2024年4月10日,终审法院作出裁决:谭思良 及 其他人 诉 警务处处长 [2024] HKCFA 8 ,确认:

1. 警方发出的不同意书是法律(即《警队条例》(第232章)及《警务处程序手册》)订明的权力范围内的行为,并与合法目的相称;

2. 不同意书的作用经常被误解为冻结银行账户;事实上,冻结银行账户的行动是由银行决定并进行的;以及

3. 警方根据《有组织及严重罪行条例》(第455章)第25A(2)(a) 条给予同意,旨在让有关人士在处理有关财产前,豁免其在《有组织及严重罪行条例》第25(1) 条所订的法律责任,即任何人如知道或有合理理由相信有关财产是犯罪得益并处置该财产,即属犯罪。 没有同意仅仅意味着有关人士没有被赋予在《有组织及严重罪行条例》第 25A(2)(a) 条的豁免权。 然而,根据《有组织及严重罪行条例》第25A(2)(b)条,在未经警方同意下处理该等财产后作出披露,亦可获得豁免。




虽然不同意书并非冻结令,但银行作为规避风险的机构,在收到警方的不同意书后通常会冻结相关银行账户。 这提高了追回损失资金的可能性。 尽管如此,根据我们的经验,在某些情况下警方不会发出不同意书或不同意书最终不能导致冻结。 例如:

(1) 有关银行账户的结余低于警方当时设定的限额;

(2) 账户持有人是持牌的金钱服务经营者或持牌信托服务持牌人;及

(3) 不同意书机制涉及警方多个部门,以致出现沟通漏洞及错误。

受害人可以选择申请民事强制令,禁止账户持有人处理其银行账户中的资金。 这需要对风险、成本和得益进行仔细分析,因为风险和成本可能超过潜在得益。

收款人不一定是欺诈者。 他们有可能是另一个骗局的受害者,以收到的资金为对价交付货物或提供服务。 在法律上,他们可以对受害者的索赔提出有效的抗辩。

追回被骗资金的机会始终取决于受害者意识到自己成为骗局受害者并采取行动追回损失资金的速度有多快。 我们在为受害者和资金收受人提供法律建议和帮助都拥有丰富经验。

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