Archive for the ‘Anti-Money Laundering News’ Category

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.

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.