Archive for the ‘Anti-Money Laundering News’ Category

UK to force offshore centres to make public the owners of companies

Friday, May 4th, 2018

The UK parliament made a decision to force its overseas territories to make public the owners of companies registered in their jurisdiction, if necessary through an order in council.

Most of British news organizations celebrated this as a victory for transparency campaigners and a major push against offshore secrecy, while the constitutional concerns expressed by the majority of overseas territories’ leaders about British MPs legislating the affairs of largely autonomous territories received very little attention.

The Guardian acknowledged that there may be legitimate reasons to use offshore jurisdictions. “But kleptocracy – egregious and globalized grand corruption – is enabled by anonymous companies, which strip the fingerprints off stolen money and, having done so, hide it under the cover of supposedly respectable corporations. Once all traces of the money’s origin have been removed, the thieves can spend it on New York property, European passports or western politicians, and they do it in vast quantities,” the Guardian said. Accordingto the article, “many of these companies came from the British Virgin Islands, Gibraltar, Anguilla and the other pink dots left on the map of the world, which is why Tuesday’s vote in parliament was so celebrated”.

Also, the Guardian connected Tuesday’s decision directly to the Panama and Paradise Papers.

British tabloid The Daily Mirror attacked one of the few politicians who spoke up on behalf of the overseas territories. It said that Conservative MP Geoffrey Cox “defended tax havens in Parliament after a GBP40,000 Cayman Islands payday” stating the “millionaire MP” had failed to mention in Tuesday’s House of Commons debate that he once represented former Cayman Islands Premier “McKeeva Bush in a corruption trial over his use of government credit cards in casinos.” IT is worth reminding that Mr. Bush was found not guilty in the trial.

News agency Bloomberg welcomed the United Kingdom’s move in a commentary stating it would “let the sunshine in on tax havens” but cautioned that the new transparency would have to be backed by enforcement. It said that corporate anonymity is what had made the British Overseas Territories a huge attraction for overseas money. Open registers “should sow seeds of panic in the offshore financial ecosystem, which has played a central role in recent money laundering and tax evasion scandals.”

The Financial Times analyzed why British Overseas Territories “fear” that the transparency push could “undermine their positions as leading offshore financial centers.”

The potential for legal action by Cayman and Bermuda against an order in council was discussed. However, Tory MP Mr. Mitchell said this was unlikely to be successful. He said that the jurisdictions have to do this by 2020.

US politicians question Trump ties to Panama real estate project

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

The United States politicians question Trump ties to scandal-struck Panama real estate project. The Panama City project is said to have earned the President between USD 30-50 million.

Two members of Congress have asked the Trump Organisation to reveal if it knew about allegations that real estate agents and investors linked to a project bearing the President’s name in Panama, had ties to money laundering and drugs. Democratic congresswoman Norma Torres and congressman Eliot Engel asked if the company, founded by Donald Trump and run by his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr since their father entered the White House, was aware of the claims relating to the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City. They asked what due diligence was done on investors and agents involved in the project, which has earned Mr Trump between USD 30 and 50 million for lending his name to it.

The Trump Organisation have not responded to enquiries immediately.

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.

Is BitCoin a way to launder money or a technology challenge?

Wednesday, December 20th, 2017

As Bitcoin breaks new barriers and faces new restrictions, its role and potential is being discussed all over the world.

Is Bitcoin criminal as a way to launder money and avoid paying taxes? Is it profitable as an apportunity to invest money? Is it just a bubble and will it terminate soon?

Fears over tax evasion and money laundering are pushing the European governments to regulate the Bitcoin. The EU is planning to bring cryptocurrencies into the scope of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism legislation, meaning that traders will have to reveal their identities.

So far, during the currency’s relatively short life, it has been anonymous, making it attractive for people trading drugs and other illegal items on the so-called ‘dark web’.

The new rules could come into force within the next few months and ensure that the platforms that allow users to trade the currency have to carry out due diligence and even report any transactions that appear suspicious.

It’s a major change and one that could either be seen as a clampdown on something that’s being exploited by criminals or as a stamp of recognition that cryptocurrencies are becoming mainstream, despite the lack of a state that back up its value.

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.