Archive for the ‘Anti-Money Laundering News’ Category

Swiss banks to harden AML measures

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

According to the Swiss banking association, Switzerland’s banks will beef up anti-money laundering measures. This was announced weeks after a report by a government-appointed group found the Alpine nation was still vulnerable to financial crime.

More transparent rules are to come into force in 2016 to make it harder for criminals to hide their money in companies or schemes with obscure ownership structures.

The measures were announced as Switzerland investigates alleged corruption at Zurich-based FIFA, world soccer’s governing body, in connection with World Cup bids. United States’ prosecutors are also investigating alleged money laundering schemes by soccer officials.

The Swiss Bankers Association said in a statement that fighting against money laundering and terrorist financing are central issues for the Swiss financial centre. It announced that from 2016, bank would face a new requirement to identify the controlling owner of legal entities and private companies. This would mean any individual with a stake of more than 25% or exercising effective control. If no one who meets these criteria, banks must instead identify the highest-ranking employee.

The announcement follows a report this month from a Swiss interdepartmental group on combating money laundering and terrorism financing, in which it recommended measures to improve rules tackling financial crime.

AML/CFT Workshop to be held in Seychelles

Friday, August 1st, 2014

The Centre for Legal Business Studies (CLBS) with the support of the Seychelles’ Financial Services Authority (FSA), will be hosting an Advanced Workshop on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing. The event will be held on August 11-12, 2014 at the Le Meridien Fishermen’s Cove Hotel, Bel Ombre, Seychelles.

As Anti-money Laundering & Counter Financing (AML/CFT) compliance has become increasingly complex, level of examiner expectations has become corresponding. AS a result, there is a need for seasoned compliance personnel to learn and to know how to put in practice.

The workshop will provide an up to date, current regulatory information, particularly in the areas of risk assessments, suspicious activity surveillance, customer due diligence, impact from emerging products/services, vendor management, and increasing Anti-money Laundering and Counter Financing program expectations.

FATF removes Kenya from blacklist

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

The Global Financial Action Task Force has removed Kenya from its monitoring process under the ongoing Anti-Money laundering and combating the Financing of Terrorism AML/CFT regime that has been under review since June 2009.

In a statement Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich says that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) team is satisfied with the way Kenya has substantially addressed its action plan on addressing money laundering, combating the financing of Terrorism and proliferation. Also, the team is satisfied with political commitment and institutional capacity to continue implementing the Task Force’s reforms in Kenya.

On the basis of an on-site visit the team, the global body established in 1989 to set international standards on money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism concluded that Kenya has established the legal and regulatory framework in order to address deficiencies identified in February 2010.

Germany seizes tax evasion info

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

German customs authorities in the Port of Hamburg have confiscated documents that may contain information about the accounts of suspected tax evaders. This was reported by German media on June 21.

Two containers with around 14,000 documents inside were confiscated at the end of May, with some coming from a branch of private bank Coutts, a subsidiary of the Royal Bank of Scotland, in the Cayman Islands, newspaper Welt am Sonntag said in an advance copy of an article due to be published on Sunday.

It was also reported that customs authorities confiscated a container of Coutts documents from the Cayman Islands on May 20. Since then, finance experts had been evaluating the information and searching for evidence of tax evasion.

A spokesperson for Coutts told Reuters: “We are not aware of any investigation into our Trust Company or its papers and we are working with the authorities to allow these papers to continue on their way.”

US to toughen Money Laundering Sanctions against North Korea

Saturday, May 31st, 2014

US lawmakers moved to toughen sanctions against North Korea by targeting money laundering and human rights violations, voicing impatience with the hardline regime.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee approved the bill hours. Previously, Japan, a US ally that has usually championed a hard line on North Korea, unexpectedly eased sanctions after talks.

The House bill would create a blacklist of officials judged to be involved in human rights abuses after a damning report by a UN commission likened abuses by Kim Jong-Un’s regime to those under Nazi Germany.

While the United States already maintains sweeping sanctions against North Korea, the proposed law would seek to make the totalitarian state radioactive for banks from third countries by asking the Treasury Department to consider designating Pyongyang a money-laundering concern.

This move is inspired by the freezing of USD 25 million in North Korean funds in 2005 on US money-laundering and counterfeiting charges at the Banco Delta Asia in the Chinese territory of Macau. Hard-up Pyongyang refused to comply with a denuclearization deal until it received the funds.

The sanctions bill would also re-impose strict restrictions on export licenses that were loosened in 2008 when the President Bush controversially took North Korea off a list of state sponsors of terrorism because he intended to sign a final denuclearization agreement.

Ex-Guatemala President sentenced in US for Money Laundering

Monday, May 26th, 2014

Former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo has been sentenced to 5 years and 10 months in prison for money laundering.

Besides the prison sentence, Portillo will have to return the USD 2.5 million he accepted as a bribe from the Government of Taiwan so that Guatemala would maintain diplomatic relations with Taipei. Also, he will have to pay a fine of up to USD 500,000.

Portillo was extradited to New York in May 2013 from Guatemala to face charges of conspiring to launder money he obtained illegally during his 2000-2004 mandate.

Portillo laundered the bribe money through U.S. and European banks.

Having initially denied the accusations, he entered a guilty plea in March after reaching an agreement with prosecutors. This agreement allowed him to avoid a 20-year prison term.

Portillo, 62, had received the money from Taiwan between December 1999 and August 2002. The USD 2.5 million was paid to him through 5 cheques.

Of the money, USD 1.5 million were deposited in accounts that he, his wife and daughter had in Spain’s BBVA bank in Paris. Part of that money was later laundered through banks in Switzerland, Luxembourg and other offshore jurisdictions.

Vatican says bank needs ‘corrective measures’

Monday, May 19th, 2014

The Vatican’s financial watchdog agency said that “corrective measures” were necessary at the Holy See’s troubled bank to continue the path toward financial transparency and compliance with international anti-money laundering norms.

According to Financial Intelligence Authority Director Rene Bruelhart, a long-awaited investigation of the bank, known as the Institute for Religious Works, included looking into its practice of not disclosing the names of the true account holders in its transactions with Italian banks. He said that the main problems identified in the inspection concerned the bank’s procedures for identifying high-risk activities, and that more detail was necessary.

He said over the coming weeks, he would discuss a proposed action plan with bank managers “to take certain corrective measures to have a full implementation (of the Vatican’s anti-money-laundering law) in the IOR.”

The majority of the 202 new cases stemmed from transactions at the Vatican bank, which is reviewing each of its accounts to make sure it is clean and that the bank has complete information on the client.

FATF moves meeting from Moscow

Monday, May 5th, 2014

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) announced its decision not to hold a planned meeting in Moscow in June due to the continuing Ukraine crisis.

A summit meeting of the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) was to be held in Moscow in June, in part because the group’s current head is Vladimir Nechaev, chief of Russia’s anti-money laundering agency. However, on May 4, national anti-money laundering agencies belonging to FATF received a notice from the group saying the meeting would be held in Paris instead.

According to the announcement, “It became apparent that it would be difficult to ensure full attendance of FATF delegations at the scheduled plenary in Moscow but there was widespread support for the work of the FATF to continue uninterrupted”.

The meeting will now take place during the week of June 22 to 27 at the Paris conference center of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Offshore Deal Activity increases in 2013

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

According to Appleby’s latest Offshore-i report, offshore deal volumes rose steadily throughout 2013 reaching a total 12-month value surpassed only 3 times in the last decade.

The total value of deals in 2013 hit USD 151 billion. Out of this USD 151 billion, USD 47.9 billion was recorded in the 4th quarter – up 32% from the previous quarter.

There were 11 USD 1 billion+ deals in Q4 2013, almost double the number in the previous quarter, including 2 worth over USD 2 billion. The average deal size in the final quarter of last year was USD 79 million.

Q4 2013 was a breakout year for Bermuda with the value of deals done on its shores doubling; its full-year total nearly equalled that of the Cayman Islands.

Offshore ranks 6th among world regions for deal volume in Q4 2013, 5th for deal value, and 3rd for average deal size. Only North America and South and Central America record larger average deal sizes.

Appleby pointed out that 29% of deals are completed by offshore buyers, 47% by investors, and 25% by companies from the rest of the world.

Banks face new US Anti-Money Laundering Measures

Thursday, January 9th, 2014

The Justice Department has put Wall Street on notice that it intends to introduce additional enforcement actions against banks that have not done enough to fight the flow of illicit funds into the United States’ financial system.

A top Justice Department official said that banks have stepped up efforts to guard against money laundering in the wake of several high-profile federal enforcement actions, but the United States is still finding problems as it investigates banks.

Banks have come under increasing pressure from regulators and law enforcement to bolster their anti-money-laundering efforts as part of a broad attempt to eradicate money laundering by going after the financial institutions they say enable such activity.

In 2012, HSBC Holdings PLC paid $1.9 billion after admitting violations of the Bank Secrecy Act and other laws. Regulators also reached a smaller settlement with Standard Chartered PLC and cited Citigroup Inc. and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. for deficient money-laundering controls. Citigroup and J.P. Morgan said they are working to fix the issues. Last year, the Federal Reserve cited problems with the anti-money-laundering program at M&T Bank Corp., delaying a proposed merger.

The increased focus on banks is a shift for law enforcement, which traditionally added money-laundering charges when prosecuting alleged drug dealers or mobsters for other crimes. It also went after specific individuals or institutions that allegedly helped them launder money in specific instances.