Archive for the ‘Anti-Terrorist Financing’ Category

US regulator tells Scotiabank to fix AML Deficiencies

Saturday, November 14th, 2015

US regulators are compelling Bank of Nova Scotia, Canada’s third-largest bank by assets, to overhaul its anti-money- laundering (AML) controls to correct “deficiencies” in the lender’s compliance program.

Toronto-based Scotiabank has entered into a written agreement with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the New York State Department of Financial Services to fix problems ranging from oversight to the monitoring of suspicious activity.

The written agreement released by the New York Fed did not include any monetary penalties against the bank.

It should be noted that the enforcement action comes at a time when Canadian banks are facing increased pressure from global regulators to root out potential sources of money laundering and terrorist financing from their operations.

Scotiabank spokesman Andrew Chornenky said that the bank has a strong risk-management culture. He added: “Scotiabank is firmly committed to global Anti-Money-Laundering standards and serious about fixing the issues identified by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.”

As part of its agreement with the New York Fed, Scotiabank has agreed to start a review of its New York agency’s wire- transfer activity over a period spanning July 1, 2014, to December 31, 2014. The purpose of the review is to “determine whether suspicious activity involving high risk customers and transactions at, by, or through the Agency was properly identified and reported in accordance with applicable suspicious activity reporting regulations,” the agreement stated.

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.

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.

Republic Bank on Guyana and Belize blacklisting

Thursday, January 2nd, 2014

A regional anti-money laundering body has called on Caribbean countries to “consider implementing counter measures to protect their financial systems from the ongoing money laundering and terrorist financing risks emanating from Belize and Guyana.”

The counter measures amount to a financial blacklisting of the countries. These means that all financial transactions between T&T and Guyana and Belize will be placed under much greater scrutiny. Also, wire transfers and other payments could be delayed or denied.

Republic Bank executive director, Nigel Baptiste, answered the questions on the impact of the counter measures on trade and payments between T&T and the affected countries: “These measures will undoubtedly negatively affect trade and payments between the countries as the enhanced monitoring will result in longer turnaround time, higher costs and possibly the refusal of accepting payments where information requirements are not met.

He said: “Where correspondent and other banks or parties restrict the types of business being done, this will negatively affect trade income and payments and may lead to investors withdrawing from Guyana and Belize.”

The virtual blacklisting of Belize and Guyana is a directive of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF), an organisation comprising 29 jurisdictions in the Caribbean Basin region that have agreed to implement international standards on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Terrorist Financing.

Lebanese Bank accused of terrorism financing

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

A Lebanese bank accused of laundering drug money through United States banks and routing it to the terrorist group Hezbollah will pay USD 102 million to settle a lawsuit brought in 2011 by the US government.

The government of the United States accused the Lebanese Canadian Bank of a “widespread international scheme” to use the US banking system for laundering the proceeds from drug trafficking through West Africa and back to Lebanese financial institutions with ties to Hebollah.

Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, said that drug trafficking profits and terror financing often grow and flow together.

Evan Barr, an attorney for the bank, said in a statement that the bank is pleased to have reached a settlement with the Government of the United States, ending months of legal dispute.

According to prosecutors, the bank transferred at least USD 329 million by wire to the USA to purchase used cars that were then shipped to West Africa. It was said in the court documents that the money from the sale of the cars and proceeds from drug trafficking were funneled to Lebanon through Hezbollah-controlled money laundering operations. So, the bank played a key role in these money laundering channels and conducted business with a number of Hezbollah-related entities.

The government of the USA considers Hezbollah a foreign terrorist organization and bars US businesses from doing business with the group. In 2011, the Treasury Department designated the bank a money launderer. The government said that the bank was used routinely by drug traffickers to launder money from Central and South America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. A Lebanese branch of France’s Societe Generale bank acquired most of the bank’s assets after the Treasury designation. Another Lebanese money exchange, Hassan Ayash Exchange Company, forfeited USD 720 000 to the government of the United States last week in order to settle claims that it participated in the money laundering scheme.

Swiss authorities report 1,500 money-laundering cases in 2012

Friday, May 24th, 2013

According to the annual report presented at the conference in Bern, Switzerland on May 14, Swiss authorities investigated several reports of terrorist financing among a high number of suspected money-laundering cases connected to banks last year.

The number involving terrorist financing rose to 15 in 2012, which is 5 more than in 2011, due to a single complex case of almost USD 8 million, according to an annual report issued by Swiss Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS).

They were 1,585 suspected money-laundering cases that Swiss authorities disrupted in 2012, including 15 linked to terrorist financing. The past two years have seen an almost 50% increase in the number of cases compared with previous years.

Two-thirds of the cases were linked to banking, and more than 200 cases involved more than 100,000 Swiss francs (USD 104,000). The rest were mainly tied to payment services, fiduciary and asset managers.

Most of the cases were reported by a financial intermediary such as banks, credit card companies, casinos, and currency exchanges, or were based on newspaper reports or information from other third parties such as financial compliance databases.

Vatican and US sign Anti-Money-Laundering Deal

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

On May 7, Vatican took a step to make its finances more transparent, signing a deal with United States regulators. Under the signed document, each side will share information about financial transactions with a view to root out money laundering and other illicit dealings.

The deal announced by the Vatican marks the latest move by the world’s smallest state in response to international pressure to better police its finances. The efforts began in 2010 in the wake of an investigation by Italian prosecutors into whether the Vatican bank had violated Italy’s money-laundering laws.

Measures so far have included laws against money laundering and terrorist financing. This regulation helps bring to justice anyone who commits financial misdeeds on the territory of Vatican. Also, it suggests the creation of the watchdog called Financial Information Authority (FIA).

In accordance with the new agreement, the FIA and the US Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network will be able to share information about financial transactions in their respective territories.

It should be noted that the FIA is discussing similar agreements with about 20 other countries.

Brunei introduces new Legislation to prevent Money Laundering

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

Brunei has introduced anti-money laundering laws that grant enforcement agencies extensive powers to seize businesses, freeze accounts and compel individuals to list their assets through “unexplained wealth declarations”.

The Criminal Asset Recovery Order and amendments to Anti-Terrorism Order will be created to provide authorities with stronger tools for addressing financial crime

The new legislation significantly strengthen the powers of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), giving them the authority to suspend transactions, access and review information related to the government, financial institutions or non-financial businesses and professions (NFBP) such as realtors, lawyers, accountants and jewellers. All cash transactions above USD 15 000 made through these agents must be reported to FIU, failing which the individual could be jailed for up to five years and fined up to USD 50 000.

So, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Customer Due Diligence (CDD) guidelines used in banks currently become legally binding requirements.

The new rules aim to increase transparency as well as remove procedural complexities contained in previous laws. This legislation repeals the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the Drug Trafficking (Recovery of Proceeds) Act and the Criminal Conduct (Recovery of Proceeds Act) Order.

Guernsey seeks comments on proposed Anti-Money Laundering guidance

Friday, June 8th, 2012

The Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC) has written to the managing directors of all financial services businesses to ask for comments on proposed changes to Anti-Money Laundering and the Countering the Financing of Terrorism guidance and handbooks.

The consultation in respect of requirements on financial services businesses relates to amendments to the Criminal Justice (Proceeds of Crime) (Financial Services Businesses) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Regulations, 2007; the Handbook for Financial Services Businesses on Countering Financial Crime and Terrorist Financing; Schedules 1 and 2 to the Criminal Justice (Proceeds of Crime) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 1999; and Schedule 1 to the Registration of Non-Regulated Financial Services Businesses (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2008. Also, comments are awaited on the proposed changes to the Criminal Justice (Proceeds of Crime) (Legal Professionals, Accountants and Estate Agents) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Regulations, 2008; and the Handbook for Legal Professionals, Accountants and Estate Agents on Countering Financial Crime and Terrorist Financing.

The above-mentioned publications are provided by the Authority with a view to ensure that money launderers, terrorists, those who finance terrorism and other criminals cannot launder the proceeds of crime through Guernsey or its finance sector.

The Commission endorses the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on 40 Recommendations on Money Laundering and the 9 Special Recommendations on Terrorist Financing.

AML Guidelines to be implemented in Hong Kong

Saturday, February 4th, 2012

Having released consultation conclusions, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has announced that gazetting of a new set of guidelines on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing (CFT).

The new AML guidelines will take effect on April 1, 2012. They serve to replace the existing Prevention on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Guidance Note published by the SFC. The new guidelines provide guidance to the financial sector that include the operation of the relevant provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financial Institutions) Ordinance (AMLO).

Gazetted on July 8, the enacted AMLO was conducted by Hong Kong’s Financial Services and Treasury Bureau with a view not only to enhance the AML/CTF regime in Hong Kong’s financial industry but also meet the latest international standards as regards customer due diligence (CDD) and record keeping.

A consultation launched on September 30 invited comments on the proposed guidelines from industry practitioners, trade associations and professional bodies. It ended on November 18, 2011.