Money Laundering and Duplicity

In November 2014 the Court of Appeal allowed an appeal brought by convicted defendants who had faced 10 charges of money laundering. The Court of Appeal further declined to order a re-trial on the basis that the charges were duplicitous. The charges had been drafted to cover a period of time, the amounts particularized in the charges were aggregate amounts representing a number of different transactions during that period of time and the different transactions they represented were all deposits into (rather than withdrawals from) the accounts. Mr. Justice McWalters JA, giving the judgement of the Court, said:

“We do not see how [the] activity, spanning as it does a period of some two and a half months and involving different receipts on different occasions from different victims can be said to be one offence.”

On an application by the Department of Justice, the Court of Final Appeal has granted leave to appeal on the following point of law of great and general importance:

In the context of the offence of money laundering under section 25 of the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance, Cap.455 (‘the Ordinance’), how does the rule against duplicity operate? In particular, whether the offence of money laundering, capable of being committed in any of the modes of ‘dealing’ as included in its definition under section 2 of the Ordinance, is or could be a continuing offence [so] that the rule against duplicity does not apply; and how do the exceptions to the rule against duplicity (namely ‘one transaction’ as in DPP v Merriman [1973] AC 584, ‘general deficiency’ as in R v Tomlin [1954] 2 QB 274 and the ‘continuous course of conduct’ as in Barton v DPP [2001] 165 JP 779) apply to a charge of money-laundering which alleges multiple dealings some of which involve money from known and different sources.

The appeal (HKSAR-v-Salim Majed and Dahdal Hafez) has not yet been listed to be heard by the Court of Final Appeal. The Court of Appeal judgements can be found here:



It is understood that a large number of money laundering cases currently before the Hong Kong courts will be affected by the decision of the Court of Final Appeal.