Archive for February, 2011

US sanctions target Money Laundering in Afghanistan

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

On February 18, in order to step up its pressure on corruption in Afghanistan, the United States sanctioned a major Afghan money-exchange outfit as it was suspected of laundering billions of USD in drug money.

The US Treasury Department sanctioned the New Ansari Money Exchange. According to the authority, the money-exchange outfit was the center of a network of individuals, money-exchange houses and other businesses operating in Afghanistan and the UAE.

In a statement released in Washington, the US Treasury Department claimed that between 2007 and 2010, the New Ansari Money Exchange used billions of USD transferred in and out of Afghanistan for concealing illicit narcotics proceeds. New Ansari transfers money to its Dubai subsidiaries – Green Leaf General Trading LLC and Al Adal Exchange. Afterwards, they transfer money through US and international financial systems.

The US Drug Enforcement Administration Administrator Michele Leonhart said: “The New Ansari network is yet another example of money launderers exploiting legitimate financial systems to launder their ill-gotten gains, including illicit drug proceeds, as part of their criminal enterprise”. He added: “Cash is the ultimate commodity for these criminal networks, and these proceeds often fuel insurgent activity and corruption, while undermining the authority of developing governments.”

Lebanese Bank denies Money Laundering claims raised by US

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

A Lebanese bank has denied accusations by the United States’ Treasury Department that claims the bank is involved in laundering hundreds of millions of USD on behalf of a drug kingpin. Also, the bank has rejected accusations that it has links with Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based militia.

On February 10, the US Treasury Department described the Lebanese Canadian Bank in Beirut as a “financial institution of primary money laundering concern.” According to the US authority, it had reason to suggest that managers at the bank were complicit in money laundering by Ayman Joumaa, an alleged trafficker accused by US authorities of shipping drugs. Also, the Treasury’s action in designating the Lebanese Canadian Bank (LCB) exposed links between the bank and Hezbollah, which is listed as a terrorist organization by the USA.

The bank’s chairman, Georges Zard Abou Jaoude, said that the bank had no relationship with Hezbollah as well as with anyone designated by the US Treasury Department.

Mexico’s Money Laundering reaches USD 10 billion a year

Friday, February 11th, 2011

In the past 15 years, money laundering has significantly grown in Mexico. As a result, it reached as much as USD 10 billion in 2010. This was announced by Sen. Carlos Navarrete who was quoting Attorney General’s Office figures.

During the inauguration of the “Seminario Internacional sobre Corrupcion y Lavado de Dinero” (International Seminar on Corruption and Money Laundering) held on February 9, the senator said that money laundering is a problem worsening from day to day as billions of USD have been laundered and injected into Mexico’s formal economy over several years.

He noted: “This problem has disrupted banking institutions, investment firms and businessmen, and I believe it is time for a good law that will allow us to strike a blow at the finances of organized crime groups”.

Lawmakers, other public officials and Mexican and foreign academics took part in this seminar to analyze the legislation submitted to Congress by the Calderon administration in 2010 with a view to fight money laundering.

The Federal Police’s coordinator of operations targeting ill-gotten gains, Jesus Alberto Fernandez Wilburn, said that any new rule should improve access to information between the authorities and other countries.

It should be noted that Mexico is currently conducting 15 open investigations with the US. However, Fernandez said that until the country has adequate mechanisms, there will be no exchange of information between the authorities.

Several Spanish experts were invited to the conference to evaluate efforts to struggle money laundering. University of Salamanca professor Eduardo Fabian Caparros said: “The economies of important countries have allowed themselves to be dazzled by the short-term advantages of asset laundering and have installed sinister windows to collect the foreign exchange without asking where it comes from”.

New Offshore-Related Penalties announced by UK

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

New penalties for offshore non-compliance have been announced by UK’s HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The new penalties come into effect on April 6, 2011 and apply to Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

The first Self-Assessment returns affected will be for the 2011-2012 tax year, with paper returns due to be filed by October 31, 2012, and electronic returns by January 31, 2013.

The new legislation can be found in Schedule 10 of Finance Act 2010. Under the new rule, the penalties will be linked to the tax transparency of the jurisdiction in which the income or gain arises. Penalties for failing to declare income or gains arising in another country will be higher where it is harder for HMRC to get information from that jurisdiction.

Three new levels of penalty will be introduced:
–    where the income or gain arises in a territory in ‘Category 1’, the penalty rate will be the same as under existing legislation;
–    where the income or gain arises in a territory in ‘Category 2’, the penalty rate will be 1.5 times that in existing legislation – up to 150% of tax;
–    where the income or gain arises in a territory in ‘Category 3’, the penalty rate will be double that in existing legislation – up to 200% of tax.

Cayman Finance Chair criticizes a new book on tax havens

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

In an interview with Cayman’s local television news channel, the chair of Cayman Finance Anthony Travers has called Nicholas Shaxson, the author of a new book on tax havens, an imbecile.

Travers criticized the book called Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World as well as its author. Shaxson says that his work demonstrates no more than an 11-year-old’s understanding of offshore finance, while Travers suggested that Shaxson’s position came from the politics of envy. He added: “Now the politics of envy are exacerbated by imbeciles who don’t actually understand what’s going on in the Cayman Islands”.

Travers said the opinion that Cayman is a tax haven or a magnet for illicit transactions is no more than fiction. There are places where money laundering or tax evasion are easier, but the Cayman Islands is not such a jurisdiction. He noted: “There are simply jurisdictions where it would be more sensible to perpetuate your fraud or money laundering than the Cayman Islands”.

To respond, Shaxson said that Travers had refused to talk to him when he came to the Cayman Islands and challenged Travers to explain in detail what he does not like about the book.