TAIPEI (CNA) — Taiwan is hoping to earn an improved score when an evaluation team from the Asia/Pacific Group on Money laundering (APG) returns for a four-day follow-up onsite review in March, according to a Ministry of Justice official.

Deputy Justice Minister Chen Ming-tang (陳明堂) said that when the team returns it will be an opportunity for Taiwan to improve its preliminary results from a mutual evaluation by the APG during a third round of a peer review conducted from Nov. 5 to 16, 2018.

The APG uses a “mutual evaluation,” or peer review, to assess the degree to which its members comply with international standards in combating money laundering and terrorist financing.

A bad score can hurt the reputation of a country’s financial sector and put it at a major disadvantage in engaging in international finance.

The third-round peer review has four possible outcomes — “regular follow-up,” “enhanced follow-up,” “transitional follow-up list” and “non-cooperation” — with “regular follow-up” the best, said Chen, who also heads the Executive Yuan’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO).

Taiwan’s preliminary result from the November evaluation was between “regular follow-up” and “enhanced follow-up,” Chen said, and Taiwan hopes to improve its score during the March assessment to reach “regular follow-up” status.

According to AMLO officials, one way for Taiwan to make the “regular follow-up list” would be to get at least five “substantial” ratings in 11 categories used to measure a country’s effectiveness

in fighting money-laundering and terrorist financing. Each category is rated for “high,” “substantial,” “moderate,” or “low” effectiveness.

Following the November evaluation, Taiwan had reached “substantial” ratings in four categories — understanding money laundering and terrorist financing risks; international cooperation; appropriately using financial intelligence information for money laundering and terrorist financing investigations; and preventing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, officials said.

After Taiwan tries to improve its score in March, a final report will be produced at the end of the month with the final report to be passed at the APG’s annual meeting in July or August to become official, Chen said.

Taiwan was placed in the “regular follow-up” list by the APG in 2007, requiring it to report back two years after the evaluation.

But the country was demoted in 2011 to “enhanced follow-up,” requiring it to report back one year after the evaluation.

It was then placed on the “transitional follow-up list” in 2014 after making some improvements and was removed from that list on July 20, 2017.

If a member country lands on the lowest-tier “non-cooperation” list, it could face sanctions.

By Ku Chuan and William Yen