Archive for the ‘Anti-Money Laundering News’ Category

Seychelles to chair AML meeting in August 2018

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Seychelles is gearing up to hold this year’s Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group meeting in August while also preparing to take up the presidency of the group, the jurisdiction’s finance minister said.

To prepare for the high-level meeting, Seychelles’ Ministry of Finance is holding frequent meetings with all involved parties to ensure the event goes smoothly from start to finish.

The Seychelles’ Minister for Finance, Trade and Economic Planning, Peter Larose, said: “It is important that we plan ahead. I had to call on a number of parties to be able to assist as this is about Seychelles. We need to showcase Seychelles’ style of management, governance system and show the world that we are a capable, responsible and accountable government”. He said that the guests will have the opportunity to witness the competitive edge of Seychelles as part of the global village. Minister also noted that discussions in this year’s meeting will focus on our compliance with international best practices including preventing money-laundering, tax evasion and combatting the financing of terrorism. “It is part and parcel of our commitment to share information within the group and Africa, and with the rest of the world,” said Larose.

The aim of the group is to combat anti-money laundering by implementing recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF). The organisation sets standards and promotes effective application of AML legal and regulatory measures.

5 steps of AML compliance in 2017

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

Sven Stumbauer, Managing Director of AlixPartners, published an article on Five Steps for Anti-money Laundering Compliance in 2017.

According to the article, banks and other financial institutions entered 2017 facing an increasingly daunting framework of anti-money-laundering (AML) laws and regulations.

Having a comprehensive compliance programme in place is currently becoming more and more crucial. So, the following five steps financial institutions can take in 2017 have been outlined:

1. KEEP ABREAST OF CHANGES AND NAVIGATE THEM DILIGENTLY

2. KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER

3. ESTABLISH A CULTURE OF RESPONSIBILITY — FROM THE TOP DOWN

4. CONDUCT A THOROUGH RISK ASSESSMENT AND AN ACCURATE RISK QUANTIFICATION

5. IMPLEMENT A SOPHISTICATED INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY SYSTEM

It has been also mentioned that recent AML enforcement actions pinpoint the danger of failing to recognize potential risk and respond appropriately. While the evolving regulatory landscape poses significant challenges to financial institutions, opportunities might also be present. By performing comprehensive risk assessments and establishing a culture of compliance throughout the organization, a financial institution can position itself to better recognize, identify, and avoid potential risk exposure. So, by full usage of technology solutions, it can develop a better understanding of its underlying customer base and ensure it complies with AML regulations at a lower cost.

US Offshore Disclosure Revenue above USD 10 billion

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016

With 55,800 taxpayers participating in the US Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program (OVDP) since 2009, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it has collected more than USD 9.9 billion in taxes, interest, and penalties from the initiative to date.

The IRS added that another 48,000 taxpayers have used the streamlined filing compliance procedures to correct prior non-willful omissions and meet their federal tax obligations, paying approximately USD 450 million in taxes, interest, and penalties.

Both the Offshore Voluntary Disclosure Program and the streamlined procedures allow taxpayers with undisclosed income from foreign financial accounts and assets to correct and regularize their affairs while mitigating penalties.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said: “The IRS has passed several major milestones in our offshore efforts, collecting a combined USD 10 billion with 100,000 taxpayers coming back into compliance. He noted that, when receiving more information on foreign accounts, people’s ability to avoid detection becomes harder and harder. So, the IRS urges those people with international tax issues to come forward to meet their tax obligations.

Besides the OVDP and the streamlined procedures, the IRS noted that, under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the network of inter-governmental agreements between the US and partner jurisdictions, automatic third-party account reporting has entered its 2nd year.

EU signs agreement with IOTA to fight Tax Evasion

Friday, July 29th, 2016

An Agreement for Cooperation has been signed by the Intra-European Organisation of Tax Administrations (IOTA) with the European Commission to allow them to work more effectively towards the common goals of the two bodies – particularly, cracking down on tax evasion.

According to an announcement made by IOTA on July 26, the main areas of collaboration under the agreement include cooperating in the fight against tax fraud, information exchange, providing mutual assistance, supporting tax authorities to improve taxpayer compliance rates, and supporting capacity building.

The agreement between IOTA and the Taxation and Customs Union Directorate General (DG TAXUD) of the European Commission was signed during IOTA’s General Assembly on July 7 in Bucharest by IOTA’s President, Octavian Deaconu, and Caroline Edery, Head of Unit, Tax Administration and Fight Against Tax Fraud, DG TAXUD.

IOTA is a non-profit intergovernmental organization based in Budapest that is aimed at promoting best practices in tax administration and more effective cooperation between its 46 member tax authorities.

Singapore Authority sets up AML department

Monday, June 13th, 2016

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has announced establishing a dedicated anti-money laundering department aimed to combat illicit financial activities.

The regulator will set up a dedicated supervisory team in order to monitor illicit financing risks as well as carry out onsite supervision of how financial institutions manage these risks.

Before, these functions were carried out by different departments in MAS. Now, the new structure is to enhance supervisory focus.

Ravi Menon, Managing Director of MAS, said: “We will strengthen our supervision of financial institutions’ controls to combat money laundering and illicit financing. And we will enhance our enforcement capability to deter poor controls or criminal behaviour in the industry”.

FATF grants Israel observer status

Friday, February 26th, 2016

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has announced that Israel will join the organization as an observer starting June 2016.

The admission is a significant step in the application process for joining the prestigious group, which sets the global rules for combating money laundering and terror financing. Joining the authority will allow Israel to participate in shaping global policy and position it as one of the leading countries in the international fight against money laundering and terror financing. Also, the announcement is to support the Israeli economy by providing the country an unofficial stamp of approval for its financial sector.

Israel’s Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority chief Dr. Shlomit Wagman-Ratner said: “The decision to accept Israel into the FATF – an important, prestigious, and influential group – reflects the contribution of Israel to the global fight against money laundering and terror financing and signals that Israel is a leading country with expertise in the sector.”

Angola removed from Money Laundering Blacklist

Saturday, February 20th, 2016

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has removed Angola from its blacklist of jurisdictions that fail to meet international standards.

The FATF added this southern African country to the list in 2010. The Angolan central bank said the FATF’s decision came after the country implemented reforms that included licensing of banks and setting up a Financial Intelligence Unit, which collects information on suspicious or unusual financial activity.

The removal is expected to improve the credit quality and financial institutions of Angola.

Last year, the risk of financial crime and difficulty in monitoring clients forced Standard Chartered to announce it had ended its dollar-clearing operations with commercial banks in Angola. Bank of America also stopped selling Angolan banks the greenback from the beginning of December 2015.

Australia considers tighter AML rules for real estate and gems

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Australia is considering tightening its anti-money laundering regulations to include real estate agents and precious stone dealers, following red flags from a global watchdog over potential illicit cash entering the country.

While tighter regulations would not be aimed at inflows from any one country, Australian authorities are reacting following a surge of cash from wealthy Chinese buyers looking for a safe haven away from the market turmoil of their home markets. Purchases of pink diamonds by Chinese have increased. About 70% of Chinese real estate buyers pay in cash.

According to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a lack of scrutiny by Australian authorities in the property and precious stones sectors was “an increasing high risk” in the global fight against money laundering and financing of extremists.

Australia’s Attorney General’s Department, responsible for the country’s law and justice framework, is reviewing its rules to address those concerns, people familiar with the plans said. The rules already cover banking, remittance and gaming.

Swiss Government Adopts New Anti-money Laundering Rules

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

On November 11, 2015, the government of Switzerland adopted new rules aimed to clamp down on money laundering as the country seeks to cast off its reputation as a haven for hidden cash.

The new rules, which follow recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) last year, establish fresh due diligence requirements for traders when they accept cash payments of more than 100,000 Swiss francs (USD 99,500).

According to the statement made by the Swiss government, they also change the way in which religious foundations are registered in Switzerland and will come into force at the start of the year 2016.

Switzerland was reminded of its reputation as a place for the wealthy to hide assets this year when media outlets published leaked documents suggesting HSBC’s Swiss private bank helped customers dodge taxes.

In June, the Swiss banking association had said that the country’s banks would beef up anti-money laundering measures through transparency rules due to come into force next year.

Money laundering to become difficult in next 1-2 years, Indian Finance Minister says

Thursday, November 5th, 2015

According to Arun Jaitley, Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Information, and Broadcasting in the Government of India, tax evasion and money laundering will become extremely difficult in the future. He warned lawbreakers that real-time global automatic exchange of information system will come into effect.

Indian finance minister said: “I am quite certain that the activity is going on in that direction and the next 1-2 years are also going to bring significant results because with almost real-time exchange of information, lives are going to become extremely difficult as far as lawbreakers in that regard are concerned,” the minister said in his inaugural speech at international conference on ‘Networking the Networks’.

Jaitley noted that tax evasion and stashing away illegal money anywhere in the world is becoming increasingly difficult after a G20 initiative that is being taken up by various international institutions.

The initiative, firmed at the Australia summit of G20 last November, is a new global arrangement under which countries will begin automatic exchange of tax information in stages beginning April 1, 2017. India, one of the early adopters, will begin sharing from the first date. Also, the OECD has recently announced the rules for the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) framework, which seeks to ensure that trans-nationals pay tax at least at some place.