All the latest compliance news

As we can see, the following news items indicate a trend toward closer and stronger international cooperation with regard to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing. Given that terrorist groups such as ISIL are using increasingly modern and sophisticated methods to generate income in order to finance their ill ideological goals, a concerted effort on the international stage is much needed during these challenging times.

ONE57 Tower

“New York’s first billionaire’s building, ONE57, was funded by a subsidiary of an Abu Dhabi company linked to a global money laundering investigation, The Post has learned.

Gary Barnett, of Extell Development, started to build the 75-story skyscraper, at 157 W. 57th St., during the height of the recession when Western funding was scarce.

Barnett owns only a small piece of the $1.6 billion tower, which was mainly funded by Aabar Investments and a second, privately held Abu Dhabi-based investor, Tasameem Real Estate Co., sources said. Aabar is a subsidiary of International Petroleum Investment Co., or IPIC, one of the biggest backers of a state-owned Malaysian investment fund that is at the center of a growing corruption scandal. That fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad, or 1MDB, had $6.5 billion in bonds guaranteed by IPIC, according to reports.”

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AUSTRAC and Indonesia

“The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has reaffirmed its support for a new Indonesian regulation on submission of data and information to combat money laundering, adding that the measure will also aid in efforts to eradicate terrorism.

AUSTRAC is cooperating with Indonesia’s Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) to track financial transactions suspected of relating to international terrorist networks.

Over the past years, the PPATK has detected overseas fund transfers to Indonesia amounting to over Rp 10 billion ($1 million), including Rp 6 billion from Australia, PPATK deputy head Agus Santoso said in December.”

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China’s Sam Pa

“HSBC has frozen more than $87m in accounts linked to a Chinese tycoon behind several multibillion-dollar deals in Africa, while it investigates allegations of ‘serious financial crimes.’

Accounts controlled by Sam Pa and his business associate Veronica Fung were blocked by the bank a year ago, but its internal investigation is still going, court documents have revealed. Last week, a Hong Kong judge declined Mr. Pa and Ms. Fung’s request that he order HSBC to release the funds, which are ‘extremely substantial,’ according to the ruling. One account alone contains $87m, the documents show.

Mr. Pa has built a network of interests in oil, minerals and infrastructure by cultivating regimes regarded as among the world’s most repressive and corrupt, from Angola to North Korea — often blazing a trail for Chinese state-owned groups. His commercial empire, known as the Queensway Group after the Hong Kong address of its headquarters, has amassed assets including the former JPMorgan building opposite the New York Stock Exchange.”

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Maharashtra Sadan scam

“NCP leader and former Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Chhagan Bhujbal was arrested recently after being questioned for over nine hours by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) in an alleged money laundering case which the agency claims caused a loss of Rs 870 crore to the exchequer.

The ED is probing alleged kickbacks received by Bhujbal and his kin for favoring contractors in construction of the Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi and the Kalina Central Library, works which were awarded when he was state PWD minister — he held the portfolio from November 2004 to September 2014. He started his political career with the Shiv Sena, joined the Congress and later the NCP of Sharad Pawar.

The ED has alleged that the Bhujbals received cash in lieu of projects awarded to contractors and “channeled such illegal cash into various companies and integrated it into business activities” of companies they controlled.

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Credit Suisse

“Lawyers for a Georgian billionaire accused Credit Suisse Group AG of money laundering as they step up their fight with the Swiss bank over its handling of a former wealth manager who allegedly made unauthorized transactions to cover up trading losses.

Bidzina Ivanishvili’s lawyers “filed the criminal complaint with Geneva prosecutors, alleging that the bank failed to install adequate procedures to prevent money laundering, allowing employees to act with complete freedom. The complaint is based on hearings, a review of the evidence as well as information received from MROS, Switzerland’s Money-Laundering Reporting Office, the lawyers wrote.

The complaint is at least the second to target Credit Suisse in a widening scandal that has put the spotlight on its wealth management unit and what it knew about allegations made by Ivanishvili and two other Russian clients about improper trading dating back to 2007. The Geneva banker — who can’t be named under Swiss law — has been charged with fraud and criminal mismanagement by Geneva prosecutors and is in detention in the Swiss canton as the Frenchman is considered a flight risk to France.”

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Lebanon

“Lebanon has seen a rise in the reported cases on suspicious money laundering and terrorism financing in 2015, demonstrating the vigilance of the Lebanese banks in combating these phenomena, the secretary-general of the country’s Special Investigation Commission said. ‘The reported cases received by SIC in 2015 were higher. We have not released the figures yet but the received cases rose around 40 percent compared to 2014.’”

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Andorra Bank

“The tiny European state of Andorra says a study shows one of its banks had 923 accounts suspected of money laundering.

Andorran authorities seized Banca Privada d’Andorra last year after it was accused by the U.S. of helping groups from China, Russia and Venezuela launder money.

The study by consultants PwC said the 923 accounts represented three percent of the 29,200 customers and about 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in business volume, or 19 percent of the bank’s total.”

Andorran financial authorities say that based on the report released recently, “more than 90 percent of BPA’s clients are fit to be transferred to the newly-created Vall bank.”

They said “BPA senior management and majority shareholders remain under investigation.”

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Colombia

“Colombia dismantled an international money laundering network with the arrest of 13 suspects, including five flight attendants, prosecutors said.

‘Among the 13 arrested people are five [Avianca Airlines] flight attendants and eight individuals who were engaged in transporting to Colombia dollars and euros illegally obtained from Spain, the United States, Mexico and elsewhere,’ prosecutors said in a statement.”

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Barclays’ South Africa Arm

“Barclays Plc identified potential money laundering linked to currency transactions at its business in South Africa, where the British lender plans to wind down its investment.

Absa Bank Ltd., the South African subsidiary of Barclays Africa Group Ltd., ‘has identified potentially fraudulent activity by certain of its customers using import advance payments to effect foreign-exchange transfers from South Africa to beneficiary accounts located in Asia, the U.K., Europe and the U.S.,’ the London-based bank said in its annual report.”

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Phantom Goods from China 

“Days after the Switzerland-based Bank for International Settlements played down fears over capital flight out of China, new trade data has put the spotlight on a channel used to ferret out billions worth of illicit money flows: phantom goods.

A steep rise in China’s reported imports from Hong Kong has raised concerns that trade invoices are being manipulated to get capital out of the country amid fears the yuan will continue to weaken. February data … show those imports jumped 89 percent from a year earlier, even as total imports fell 14 percent. While the rise wasn’t as great as in January, economists said the spike follows similar patterns in recent months that point to companies using trade channels to pay for goods far in excess of their value or even that don’t exist at all.”

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Secret world of multimillion-pound art deals

“The secret world of multimillion-pound art deals is facing a U.S. inquiry into allegations of money laundering. Federal investigators have opened an inquiry into Yves Bouvier, a Swiss businessman described as ‘one of the art world’s consummate insiders.’

The U.S. Department of Justice is examining the sale of paintings by artists including Leonardo da Vinci, Modigliani, Gustav Klimt and Mark Rothko.

Authorities in Monaco are investigating claims by the Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev that Mr. Bouvier defrauded him by inflating prices on painting acquisitions and keeping the difference.”

Source

Islamic State

“Isil is making millions of dollars for its war chest by playing foreign currency markets under the noses of bank chiefs.

The terror group is earning up to $20m (£14.29m) a month by funnelling dollars looted from banks during its takeover of the Iraqi city of Mosul into legitimate currency markets in the Middle East.

It then makes huge returns on currency speculation, which are then wired back via unsuspecting financial authorities in Iraq and Jordan.”

Source

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Ahmed Taimour

Feb 1 - Ahmed Taimour headshot (319x400)Ahmed Taimour is a CAMS-certified professional with more than 10 years of experience in compliance, internal audit and risk consulting with banking and international consulting firms in the Middle East. He has extensive experience in AML, internal auditing, corporate governance and risk management in the financial services sector gained from working in tier-one banks and Big 4 firms.

Ahmed can be reached at: https://ae.linkedin.com/in/ahmedtaimour

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