Archive for January, 2014

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.

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.