The latest AML compliance news and more

Sanctions and Fines

Mossack Fonseca Enforcement Action

“The Government of the British Virgin Islands has today announced that the independent regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), has issued an enforcement action against Mossack Fonseca & Co (B.V.I) Limited that sees the firm fined $440,000 for its contravention of numerous sections of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Code of Practice and BVI Regulatory Code.

The fine, which is the largest ever issued by the Financial Services Commission, relates specifically to failures in record keeping, risk assessment and adequate updating of customer due diligence. The full details of the enforcement action are available on the BVI FSC website.”

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Credit Suisse’s €109.5M Settlement

“Credit Suisse has agreed to pay 109.5 million euros ($119 million) in taxes and penalties to settle allegations by Italian authorities that it helped clients transfer undeclared funds offshore, the Swiss bank said on Friday.  Milan prosecutors had been investigating since 2014 an alleged fraudulent system which was used to transfer up to 14 billion euros ($15.2 billion) to offshore accounts, mainly through the use of insurance policies. Some 13,000 clients are allegedly involved.

Credit Suisse AG was placed under investigation for alleged money laundering carried out by its executives, who have not been identified. In a statement on Friday, the Zurich-based bank said it had agreed to pay Italian authorities 101 million euros ($110 million) in taxes, late payment interest and penalties to settle its tax position.”

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DFS Fines Agricultural Bank of China

“DFS Investigation Uncovers Intentional Actions to Obscure U.S. Dollar Clearing Transactions, Including Counterfeit and Falsified Invoices involving China and Russia and Omission of Information Regarding Possible U.S. Dollar Trades with Sanctioned Counterparties. Bank Management Silenced and Severely Curtailed the Independence of Whistleblower Who Attempted to Conduct Internal Investigations of Suspicious Activity. Consent Order Requires Bank to Establish Effective Compliance Controls and to Retain Independent Monitor to Investigate 18 Months of U.S. Dollar Clearing Activity.”

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Ireland’s Ulster Bank Fined €3.325M

“Ulster Bank Ireland DAC fined €3,325,000 by the Central Bank of Ireland in respect of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing failures.

The Central Bank of Ireland (the ‘Central Bank’) fined Ulster Bank Ireland DAC (‘Ulster Bank Ireland’) and reprimanded it for breaches of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 (the ‘CJA 2010’). The breaches have been admitted by Ulster Bank Ireland.  The CJA 2010 requires credit and financial institutions to adopt and implement adequate policies and procedures appropriate to their business to prevent and detect the commission of money laundering and terrorist financing.”

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AML and Compliance News

India: Changes Under Money Laundering Law

“The central government on Friday said that it has issued provisional orders to attach properties worth Rs18,866 crore for offences under the money laundering law. It has also taken a host of initiatives, including effective enforcement of law, to curb the menace of money laundering in the country, minister of state for finance Santosh Kumar Gangwar said in a written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha.

‘As of 31 October 2016, 658 provisional attachment orders have been issued by attaching properties worth Rs18,866 crore. Further, 283 prosecution complaints have been filed for the offence of money laundering (under Prevention of Money Laundering Act),’ he said.”

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Edinburgh Shell Companies Used as Fronts

“Unregulated internet money transfer systems are using Edinburgh shell companies as fronts amid growing concern over money-laundering in the industry.  At least three websites offering no-questions-asked online payments are using a controversial kind of Scottish firm whose ultimate owners can be secret, file no accounts and pay no taxes.

The businesses, called epay, wpay and payeer, all give their corporate face as a Scottish limited partnership or SLP registered at a maildrop in the capital’s prestigious west end.  However, none of the three firms have any physical presence in Scotland beyond their virtual “brass plate” in Edinburgh and none are subject to UK regulation.”

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Int’l computer fraud, forgery and money laundering ring dismantled

“On 15 November, prosecutors from the Romanian Territorial Office Valcea of the Directorate for Investigating Organized Crime and Terrorism (DIICOT), acting within a joint investigation team (JIT) set up with the support of Eurojust, carried out an operation concerning an organized crime group (OCG) specialized in computer fraud, forgery and money laundering. The operation was also supported on the spot by Europol. A total of 64 house searches were carried out and 64 suspects were brought to the Public Prosecutors Office in Romania for hearings. Twelve people have been arrested.”

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Modi’s war on cash sparks interest in money laundering

“The search query ‘how to convert black money into white money?’ is trending on Indian Google after Prime Minister Narendra Modi withdrew 500 and 1,000 (about $15) rupee notes, turning 86 percent of cash in the country to paper. According to Bloomberg, the most searches came from Modi’s home state of Gujarat, known for its small traders, jewelers and other small businesses.

The government decided to get rid of the notes because of tax evasion and corruption in India. The term ‘black money’ is used to describe cash stashed to avoid paying taxes.  The media quoted the 2016 Internet Trends report by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers saying India has 277 million internet users, the second-biggest after China.”

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France adopts U.S.-style anti-corruption settlement system

“France adopted new anti-corruption legislation on Tuesday which will for the first time enable companies to strike negotiated financial settlements with magistrates, in line with practice in the United States and Britain.

The measure approved by the lower house of parliament comes after France has been criticized by international organizations for failing to ever convict a French firm for bribery abroad.  French firms including Alstom or Total have however been fined in corruption cases in the United States.”

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Bullion firm in money laundering probe

“A prominent British gold bullion firm with links to Formula 1 has been drawn into a probe into potential money laundering.  Mayfair-based Stunt & Co is under investigation by West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crimes Unit, The Mail on Sunday can reveal.

Ashley Carson, Assay Master of the Sheffield Assay Office, the body which officially approves and hallmarks precious metals in the city, confirmed in a statement: ‘The Assay Office has been visited by detectives investigating potential money laundering by Stunt & Co, and the Assay Office is helping with the police inquiry, including giving the police access to our control systems [accounts].'”

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Three Banks to Open in Iran

“Three banks are opening up representative offices in Iran as the country seeks to boost investment after reaching an international sanctions deal last year.  Oman’s Bank Muscat SAOG, Woori Bank of South Korea and India’s UCO Bank Ltd. are all in the process of establishing a presence in Tehran.

Major European banks have kept their distance from Iran, despite its nuclear deal with world powers, for fear of running foul of remaining U.S. sanctions. Central bank governor Valiollah Seif said progress with foreign banks has been ‘slow,’ the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency reported in September.”

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U.S. Attorney brings charges in $100M money laundering scheme

“Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations (‘HSI’), announced a complaint charging CARLOS DJEMAL, ISIDORO HAIAT, BRAULIO LOPEZ, MAX FRAENKEL, DANIEL BLITZER, and ROBERT MORENO with international money laundering and wire fraud as well as conspiracies to commit these same offenses.  DJEMAL was arrested in Chicago, Illinois; MORENO was arrested in Dallas, Texas; FRAENKEL was arrested in Austin, Texas.

Magistrate Judge Andrew J. Peck.  HAIAT and LOPEZ have not been apprehended.Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said:  ‘As alleged, Carlos Djemal, Isidoro Haiat, and their co-defendants used the U.S. banking system to commit an international fraud scheme that deprived the Mexican government of substantial tax revenue and involved the laundering of over $100 million.  Thanks to the outstanding investigative work of HSI and the IRS, these alleged criminals will now face charges in an American court.'”

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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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