WASHINGTON — The United States Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) launched the FinCEN Exchange program today to enhance information sharing with financial institutions. As part of this program, FinCEN, in close coordination with law enforcement, will convene regular briefings with financial institutions to exchange information on priority illicit finance threats, including targeted information and broader typologies. This will enable financial institutions to better identify risks and focus on high priority issues, and will help FinCEN and law enforcement receive critical information in support of their efforts to disrupt money laundering and other financial crimes.
“Strong public-private partnerships and two-way information sharing is a crucial component of our efforts to combat the sophisticated money laundering methods and evolving threats we face today,” said Sigal P. Mandelker, Treasury Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. “FinCEN Exchange will bring together law enforcement, FinCEN, and different types of financial institutions from across the country to share information that can help identify vulnerabilities and disrupt terrorist financing, proliferation financing and other financial crimes.”
Private sector participation in FinCEN Exchange is strictly voluntary, and the program does not introduce any new regulatory requirements. It also does not replace or otherwise affect existing mechanisms by which law enforcement engages directly with the financial industry. It is part of Treasury’s broader objective of strengthening the anti-money laundering framework by encouraging, enabling, and acknowledging more regular industry focus on high-value and high-impact activities. Operational briefings under the FinCEN Exchange program will begin in the coming weeks.
Additional Information about FinCEN Exchange
Law enforcement relies on the financial industry to report important data to fight financial crime through mechanisms such as Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) and Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs). The government, in turn, provides feedback to the private sector, including through FinCEN Advisories, SAR Statistics, briefings, and other forms of information to guide and encourage industry efforts.
Since 2015, FinCEN has convened over a dozen special briefings in five cities with over 40 financial institutions and multiple law enforcement agencies. In connection with these briefings, FinCEN, working closely with law enforcement, issues requests pursuant to Section 314(a) of the USA PATRIOT Act related to investigations and provides associated financial typologies. Information provided after the briefings by financial institutions through SARs has helped the public sector map out and target weapons proliferators, sophisticated global money laundering operations, human trafficking and smuggling rings, corruption and trade-based money laundering networks, among other illicit actors. The briefings also have proved useful to financial institutions, helping them focus on specific priorities and better identify risks.
FinCEN Exchange will build on the success of these efforts by convening more regularly scheduled and as-needed operational briefings across the nation with law enforcement, FinCEN, and financial institutions to exchange information on priority illicit finance and national security threats. In consultation with law enforcement, FinCEN will invite financial institutions to participate based on a variety of factors, including whether they may possess information relevant to a particular topic. While the contours of each briefing will vary, the information shared, whether through Section 314(a) of the USA PATRIOT Act or other authorities, will often include information intended to support specific lines of investigation or broader typologies related to a particular illicit finance threat. After receiving information at a FinCEN Exchange operational briefing, financial institutions will be better equipped to incorporate responsive information into SARs.
FinCEN encourages financial institutions to voluntarily share, as appropriate, information with other FinCEN Exchange participants as well as other financial institutions or associations of financial institutions pursuant to Section 314(b) of the USA PATRIOT Act.
President’s summary of outcomes from the FATF/APG/EAG workshop on anti-money laundering (AML)/ countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) for judges and prosecutors: experiences, challenges and best practices
11-12 January 2018
Shenzhen, 12 January 2018 - The FATF and FATF-Style Regional Bodies APG and EAG jointly organised a second workshop for judges and prosecutors that focused on their experiences, challenges and best practices in investigating and prosecuting money laundering and terrorist financing and confiscating criminal proceeds. The People´s Bank of China hosted the event in Shenzhen from 11 to 12 January 2018 with the support of Shenzhen Municipal Government.
Approximately 90 delegates representing 32 delegations, including anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing expert prosecutors, investigative and trial judges participated in the workshop. These practitioners shared their experiences of the challenges they face during the investigation and prosecution of money laundering and terrorist financing offences and the confiscation of proceeds linked with crime or terror. They shared examples of how to overcome these challenges and discussed effective mechanisms and good practices.
FATF President Mr. Santiago Otamendi and the Head of the People´s Republic of China FATF delegation, Mr. Xiangmin Liu, chaired the event. The EAG Chair, Ms. Jinghau Hao, was also present during the event.
In their remarks, both Mr. Yin Yong, Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China and the Deputy Mayor of Shenzhen underscored the importance of hosting the event and welcoming the FATF President as well as participating countries to their country.
Outreach to the Prosecutorial Services and Criminal Justice System is an initiative by FATF President Santiago Otamendi of Argentina and one of the FATF Priorities for 2017-2018. The judiciary has an essential role in establishing stable institutions, accountability, integrity, transparency and the rule of law, which are all pillars of an effective AML/CFT system.
The workshop in Shenzhen, China was the second of a series of workshops that the FATF and FATF-Style Regional Bodies will jointly organize this year. The next workshop will take place in February 2018 for judges and prosecutors of the African and Middle-East region and will be organized jointly with MENAFATF, GIABA, GABAC and ESAAMLG. This event will be followed by a workshop in Strasbourg in March 2018 and a final one in Busan, Korea in May 2018.
The outcomes of the discussions at these workshops will contribute to a President’s paper that will identify the challenges that prosecutors and the judiciary face, and suggest good practices to deal with them. This should improve the effectiveness of prosecutorial services and criminal justice systems to prosecute terrorist and criminals who abuse the financial system and confiscate assets related to crime.
FATF will continue its focus on enhancing engagement with national Prosecutorial Services and other experts within Criminal Justice Systems to build synergies, and ultimately improve the effectiveness of AML/CFT efforts.
WASHINGTON—Efforts to overhaul U.S. anti-money-laundering laws are gathering steam, as large banks, anticorruption groups and law-enforcement authorities coalesce around the idea of creating a national database of corporations and their true owners. “We’ve come to see this as the right thing to do and a good thing for the banks,” said Greg Baer, the president of the Clearing House, a trade group of the largest U.S. banks.
The financial industry’s support for the plan, which would require new and existing corporations to register with the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, could be pivotal.
The database measure is part of a draft bill backed by Reps. Steve Pearce (R., N.M.) and Blaine Luetkemeyer (R., Mo.). The Senate Banking Committee also discussed changes to the U.S. anti-money-laundering regime on Tuesday during its first hearing of the year.
Treasury in 2016 issued a long-awaited rule mandating banks to identify the true owners of companies they take on as clients. It also urged Congress to create a national database of those owners, a step that proponents said would stymie the creation of shell companies by bad actors.
The rule goes into effect in May, giving banks a new incentive to back such a measure. “Right now, banks are obligated to find out who owns companies…They just have to do that on their own,” Mr. Baer said. “It will help banks do their due diligence more efficiently if they can check [an official] source.”
Public companies have to spell out who their owners are. The legislation is an effort to catalog smaller companies to make sure regulators aren’t missing a swath of firms that could be used to launder money. It would apply to U.S.-incorporated companies with 20 employees or fewer and $5 million or less in annual revenue. These firms would have to list their true owners in annual filings to FinCEN. “I don’t believe for a minute…that the biggest money laundering threat that we face is from dry cleaners and from shopkeepers,” said David Burton, a senior fellow in economic policy at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Clark Gascoigne, deputy director of the FACT Coalition, a corporate-transparency group in Washington, said the idea is to “capture the companies that were set up on Monday, launder the money on Tuesday and shut down by Wednesday.” The bill specifies funding for the effort would be capped at $40 million. “Initially, it would be a huge undertaking,” said Ross Delston, a Washington-based anti-money-laundering consultant. “There would be a huge initial bump in the workload that probably would take one to three years of getting all the current companies registered.”
Part of the difficulty for FinCEN will be to verify the information it receives from the companies. “What’s the compliance mechanism?” asked Mr. Delston. “How do you know if existing companies have filed?” Parties that support the database include groups representing district attorneys, certain small businesses and law enforcement, as well as rights groups such as Oxfam and Global Witness.
The legislation from Reps. Pearce and Luetkemeyer also contains a number of other measures that would lighten the regulatory load on banks, including many that were advanced by the Clearing House in a report issued last year. Some of the measures could prove too controversial to garner bipartisan support. For instance, the bill includes a provision that would create a system giving banks the freedom to experiment with new anti-money-laundering technologies, to be approved on a case-by-case basis.
As written, it would also keep nonfederal officials out of the loop. “[We are] concerned that state and local law enforcement don’t currently have access to information in the bill,” Mr. Gascoigne said. “There’s also a growing concern around the use of those shell companies for human-trafficking networks,” he said. “It’s like playing whack-a-mole and they can’t actually follow the money trail.”
Meanwhile, some members of law enforcement balk at a measure that would increase the threshold at which banks must report transactions with FinCEN to $30,000 from $10,000. “That’s intelligence that the FBI is going to lose,” said Dennis Lormel, former head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s financial crimes program. “In today’s environment, with the homegrown violent extremists, you’re dealing with a lower amount of money” being exchanged in criminal transactions, he added.
Banks argue that the quantity of data they will have to send to FinCEN is keeping them from developing more sophisticated and effective tools to target money laundering. “Certainly, to law enforcement a small-dollar SAR [suspicious-activity report] might be the proverbial last piece in the puzzle in an investigation, but they aren’t seeing the opportunity cost of that SAR,” Mr. Baer said. “It’s a shame that we actually have to shield banks from criticism for actually catching more bad guys.”
Additionally, privacy advocates have criticized a provision that would vastly expand the types of suspected criminal activities allowing banks to share suspicious-transactions information with each other and with regulators. “What you don’t want is a situation where the [government] is able to get private and sensitive information without having to go through” a warrant or court order, said Neema Singh Guliani, a legislative counsel with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Doha: The Ministry of Justice has organised a seminar on the responsibility of lawyers in the implementation of law of Anti-Money Laundering/Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), in collaboration with the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and the Qatari Lawyers Association.
The seminar is the first of its kind within the framework of the efforts of the Ministry of Justice to strengthen the national legislative system to combat terrorism and to emphasize the efforts of the State of Qatar in combating terrorism based on its established principles of renouncing violence and extremism and its adherence to human values and cooperation with various friendly and sisterly countries, as well as the international organisations to confront cross-border crimes, implement the international obligations of the UN Security Council related to the fight against terrorism and its financing and bilateral agreements in this regard.
Salem Fahad Al Marri, Acting Director of the Legal Department at the Ministry of Justice, stressed the importance of this seminar, which comes within the framework of the efforts of the Ministry of Justice to activate the legal system of the State in this regard and to review the executive mechanisms of Law No. (4) of 2010 before the concerned parties to implement it besides completing the joint legal efforts to confront this phenomenon with legal and independent professionals within the framework of the national vision supporting the efforts of the working group on cooperation with the Financial Action Group.
He said that the seminar serves the national efforts to combat the phenomenon of terrorism and money laundering, and discussed mechanisms to achieve this by sitting with the competent authorities, such as the National Committee in charge of this subject, the legal arm concerned with implementation mechanisms, and the National Lawyers Association in implementing this law, in accordance with the jurisdiction and areas of work of legal firms in the State, and the definition of the mechanisms to combat terrorism and money laundering.
The seminar included discussions between lawyers and speakers, in which cooperation in various fields related to combating terrorism and money laundering was emphasized so that Qatar remains at the forefront of countries known to fight such crimes.
Hessa Al Sai, head of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Unit at the Ministry of Justice, stressed that the holding of this seminar is an affirmation of joint responsibility and strengthening professional partnership with lawyers to reach full awareness of the dimensions of these two global phenomena and the real dealings with all their forms and causes.
She added that the Working Group at the Ministry of Justice, which works under the supervision of the Assistant Under-secretary for Real Estate Registration and Documentation, is implementing Law No. 4 of 2010 to assure all of Qatar’s commitment to international requirements.
ABU DHABI, UAE – The complexities of international corruption and the corresponding need for a multi-sector and cross-border response were highlighted in meetings (13 and 14 December) held by INTERPOL in Abu Dhabi.
Exchanging information via INTERPOL’s global tools and services in the area of anti-corruption, asset recovery and money laundering was high on the agenda during the 1st Expert Working Group Meeting on the Global Focal Point Platform on Asset Recovery organized by INTERPOL Anti-Corruption’s unit and funded by the US Department of State and the Abu Dhabi Police General Headquarters (GHQ).
The Expert Group Meeting addressed the need to formulate guidelines – including on methodology and good practices – on integrating asset recovery in organized crime investigations which face different national legislations, rules, regulations, procedures and administrative arrangements governing asset recovery.
The event provided an opportunity to establish direct working relationships and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, thereby enhancing international cooperation in the area of asset recovery area through the Global Focal Point Platform, a secure, neutral platform for information exchange.
With the need for an effective, coordinated response to counter the threat of competition manipulation and related corruption in the sports world, INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption unit and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also organized an integrity in sport national workshop, in cooperation with the Abu Dhabi Police GHQ.
The workshop was part of INTERPOL’s training programme to assist countries in addressing the criminal challenges posed by competition manipulation, corruption and other threats to the integrity of sport.
INTERPOL-IOC Integrity in Sport national workshops are organized in countries worldwide to foster collaboration between law enforcement, the National Olympic Committee and national sports federations, public authorities (including Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Education and sports bodies), the betting industry and other actors involved in preventing the infiltration of crime into sport, particularly in relation to competition manipulation.
The Abu Dhabi workshop aimed in particular to identify key stakeholders for the development of a coordinated national approach in the UAE that protects the integrity of sport and facilitates the national and international cooperation necessary for preventing and investigating competition manipulation and other threats to the integrity of sport.
It also sought to develop understanding of the global threat from competition manipulation and irregular / illegal sports betting and its impact at the national level, and identify best practices to prevent competition manipulation and corruption in sport.
The national workshop gathered some 40 participants from law enforcement, the UAE National Olympic Committee, national sport federations, and public authorities.
Cooperation between INTERPOL and the IOC in the area of sports integrity was formalized in a Memorandum of Understanding signed in January 2014.
A new watchdog has been introduced within the Financial Conduct Authority to strengthen defences against money laundering in the UK.
Created by the government at the end of last year, the Office for Professional Body AML Supervision (OPBAS) aims to enhance standards and improve effective communication between law enforcement and supervisors, working across the UK’s anti-money laundering supervisory regime.
A key aspect of 2016’s Action plan for counter-terrorist finance and anti-money laundering, OPBAS will reform the existing AML supervisory regime.
The introduction of the body also aims to curtail government concerns over potential vulnerabilities caused by several organisations supervising the same sector, with the OPBAS overseeing 22 accountancy and legal professional body AML supervisors.
The regulations from the OPBAS are scheduled to come into effect later this month.
ABUJA—The Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa, GIABA, said, yesterday, it was in support of Federal Government’s bid to freeze all bank accounts without a Bank Verification Number, BVN.
BVN GIABA, which is a specialised institution of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, responsible for facilitating the adoption and implementation of Anti-Money Laundering, AML, and Counter Financing of Terrorism, CFT, in West Africa, stressed that the Federal Government must go beyond its “recent strong measures” against account owners without BVN.
It noted that government had yet to comply with demand by the Egmont Group that the National Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, which is currently under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as well as other anti-graft institutions in the country, be fully independent. Speaking at the opening ceremony of the GIABA 28th plenary in Abuja, Director General of the body, Col Adama Coulibaly, applauded effort by President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration to check illicit flow of looted funds within the sub-region.
In his address, the Director of NFIU, who is also Nigeria’s correspondent in GIABA, Mr. Francis Usani, said Nigeria now had a solution that will adequately address all legal issues raised by the Egmont group, which expelled the country from its fold due to alleged leakage of classified information on investigations involving financial crime. Attorney-Gen Similarly, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), in his goodwill message, said Nigeria has continued to suffer devastating effects of money laundering, terrorist financing and the proliferation of small and light arms, as well as predicate offense such as corruption, fraud, tax evasion among others.
Dogara While declaring the GIABA plenary session open, speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, harped on the need for effective global collaboration to deal with the menace of terrorism, terrorists financing and money laundering. He said Nigeria was fully committed to complying with the global standards required of it by demonstrating political support to the relevant competent authorities in the country so as to deepen anti-money laundering efforts and combat financing of terrorism culture in the country.
He promised: “The National Assembly will, when called upon for any legislative intervention to bring our system in tandem with global realities and requirements, do so with utmost sense of responsibility knowing the central role the issue of fighting money laundering and terrorist financing plays in the attainment of economic prosperity and global peace.”
Australia - Laws to crack down on the use of digital currencies like Bitcoin for money laundering and terrorism financing have passed federal parliament.
Legislation cracking down on counter-terrorism financing and money laundering has cleared the federal parliament.
Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament the measures will strengthen protections against Australian businesses being misused for money laundering or the financing of terrorism.
The bill had bipartisan support, but Labor senator Deb O'Neill said the changes didn't go far enough.
Senator Brandis said any suggestion the legislation was piecemeal was ill-conceived.
"Counter-terrorism financing is a complex area. This bill deals with certain particular aspects of the problem," he said on Thursday.
"The government has introduced other legislation earlier in the year to deal with other aspects."
The new regime will strengthen AUSTRAC' s intelligence sharing and enforcement powers.
The changes also clamp down on the use of digital currencies such as Bitcoin for money laundering and terrorism financing.
18 months after the adoption of a proposal to further reinforce EU rules on anti-money laundering to counter terrorist financing and increase transparency about who really owns companies and trusts by the European Commission, the new obligatory rules enter into force at EU-28 member states.
The new rules force the bloc’s member states to give tax authorities access to data collected under anti-money laundering legislation, as of 1 January 2018.
As of Monday, the EU’s national tax authorities have direct access to information on the beneficial owners of companies, trusts, and other entities, as well as a customer due diligence records of companies. Member states will have to – if not already – transpose the European Union’s Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive in national law.
The new arrangements should give a major boost to tax authorities in the fight against the types of structures highlighted in the ‘Paradise Papers’, according to the Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs, Pierre Moscovici.
“We want to give tax authorities crucial information on the individuals behind any company or trust. This is essential for them to be able to identify and clamp down on tax evaders. To do this, tax authorities will now have access to anti-money laundering information,” said the Commissioner.
Bulgaria's president Rumen Radev has vetoed an anti-graft bill following the launch of the country's turn at hosting the EU presidency.
Radev blocked the parliament bill on Tuesday (2 January) over stated concerns that built-in loopholes would undermine its effectiveness.
"I believe that the adopted law not only does not create an adequate legal basis for tackling corruption but will even make it difficult to fight it," he said, in a statement.
The move comes only a day after Bulgaria took on the rotating six-month EU presidency helm, where it will aim to untangle on-going EU-level policy and political disputes over Brexit and migration.
The parliament bill was aimed at weeding out high-level corruption by setting up an anti-graft unit. But the unit's independence was clouded given that its management would be selected by parliament.
The bill had been approved by parliament on 20 December.
VIENNA, (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government is in favor of developing a guideline document to serve as a reference for states formulating a legal instrument dedicated to asset recovery, China's assistant foreign minister Qian Hongshan said here on Monday.
During the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption, Qian called for deeper international cooperation in anti-corruption efforts.
He noted asset recovery is an important mechanism established by the Convention and states have the obligations to provide each other with the most extensive cooperation and assistance in line with the requirements of the Convention.
However, he said there remain considerable difficulties when it comes to cooperation on asset recovery due to differences in legal systems and other constraints among states.
"The Chinese government is in favor of developing a guideline document to serve as a reference for states or formulating a legal instrument dedicated to asset recovery so as to enable new progress to be made steadily in building the asset recovery mechanism," Qian said.
He said China has three proposals to strength the joint global effort to boost anti-corruption efforts -- to jointly discuss the fight against corruption based on equality and mutual benefits while taking into account the interests of all parties; to jointly build the anti-corruption mechanism by strengthening the role of the Convention and overcoming the institutional differences; and to jointly share the benefit of the fight against corruption through deepening international cooperation.
Qian said China attaches great importance to the fight against corruption. Particularly over the past five years, a series of measures had been taken to improve the anti-corruption legal and regulatory systems, and as a result the anti-corruption campaign is being consolidated and continues to build up, he said.
China, since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012, has been drawn into a serious nationwide fight against corruption and engaged in purifying the political environment.
As the anti-corruption storm intensifies across China, efforts are spread abroad to chase back the corrupt suspects on the run around the world. To this end, China launched operations such as "Sky Net" and "Fox Hunt" to hunt corruption suspects who have fled overseas.
The office in charge of fugitive repatriation and asset recovery under the central anti-corruption coordination group said since it was established three years ago, more than 3,000 people who had escaped overseas had returned or been repatriated from 90 countries and regions, including 541 CPC and government workers.
Over 9 billion yuan (1.35 billion U.S. dollars) has been recovered, according to figures released in June of 2017. At the G20 Hangzhou Summit in September 2016, international leaders endorsed the High Level Principles on Cooperation on Persons Sought for Corruption and Asset Recovery, and the 2017-2018 Anti-corruption Action Plan.
Anti-corruption campaigners welcome move but criticise failure to include trusts in corporate ownership requirements
Companies across the EU will be forced to disclose their true owners under new legislation prompted by the release of the Panama Papers.
Anti-corruption campaigners applauded the agreement as a major step in the fight against tax evasion and money laundering, but expressed disappointment that trusts will mostly escape scrutiny.
The revised terms of the EU’s fourth anti-money laundering directive include:
-A requirement for companies to disclose their beneficial, or true, owners in a publicly available register.
-Data on the beneficial owners of trusts to be available to tax and law enforcement authorities, as well as sectors with an obligation to follow anti-money laundering rules, such as lawyers.
-A requirement for member states to verify beneficial ownership information submitted to their registers.
-Extending anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism regulations to apply to virtual currencies, provision of tax services and those dealing in works of art.
EU member states will have 18 months to transpose the new directive into domestic legislation. As a current member of the EU, the UK will implement the legislation.
“This is a big breakthrough and confirms that full transparency of corporate ownership is now the global standard against which other countries will be judged,” said Laure Brillaud, the anti-money laundering policy officer at Transparency International EU.
“The EU deserves credit for taking this bold leap to end the secrecy that facilitates corruption, tax evasion and other crimes.”
Global Witness applauded the move “in the face of opposition from countries like the UK, Luxembourg, Ireland, Malta and Cyprus,” but criticised the failure to introduce the same requirements for trusts.
Unlike companies, which are legal entities, trusts are effectively agreements between two or more parties, which has traditionally allowed them to escape aspects of tax and crime legislation.
“Today’s deal will make it much harder for the criminal and corrupt to use EU companies, but trusts are an even better ‘getaway car’. They are the ultimate black box, so secretive that even the taxman and the police can’t see who is behind them,” said Murray Worthy, a senior campaigner at Global Witness. “Despite numerous scandals showing their use in cases of corruption and tax evasion, the deal reached today will do almost nothing to tackle this.”
The changes also include new rules on the use of pre-paid cards. The cards, which are issued by companies including MasterCard and Visa, can be loaded with cash and used online and in shops without need for the same checks as are made on debit and credit card payments. After the terrorist attacks in Paris, French authorities found that the perpetrators had used prepaid cards in their preparations.
Under the revised rules, member states will have to limit how much can be spent anonymously to €150 in a shop and €50 online.
The agreement is likely to make it harder for the UK to resist imposing the same transparency standards on its network of crown dependencies and overseas territories, many of which are major tax havens.
Negotiations to revise the fourth anti-money laundering directive were launched partly as a response to publication of the Panama Papers in 2016. The leaked Mossack Fonseca files revealed how offshore companies are used to hide assets and wealth.
In his first UK lecture since leaving office, the former Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that “the cancer of corruption is developing, metastasizing and becoming more commonplace, more complex, more multi-layered, elusive and ingrained”.
He also defended his record on engaging with the UK’s crown dependencies and overseas territories, which have consistently resisted international moves towards greater transparency.
In terms of the provisions of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, No. 6 of 2006 (FTRA), the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Sri Lanka entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Sri Lanka Police on December 13, at the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to share information, intelligence in order to facilitate investigations and prosecutions on money laundering, terrorist financing and other related offences.
Inspector General of Police, Pujith Jayasundara and Dr. H. Amarathunga, Director,FIU signed the MoU on behalf of the respective institutions in the presence of Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy, the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, who is also the Chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) National Coordinating Committee.
Money laundering and terrorist financing are internationally connected financial crimes which could threaten the stability of domestic as well as global economic and financial systems. The MOU would enable sharing intelligence and information which is vital for prevention, detection and prosecution of such offences.
The FIU has already entered into similar MOUs with Sri Lanka Customs, Department of Immigration and Emigration, Department of Inland Revenue and Department for Registration of Persons while arrangements are being made to sign MOUs with several other relevant domestic government agencies for the above purpose soon.
The Zambia Public Procurement Authority (ZPPA) and Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) have signed a memorandum of understanding to curb money laundering arising from fraud and corruption in the procurement and supply of goods and services in the public sector.
ZPPA director general Danies Chisenda said the two institutions have since agreed to carry out joint investigations in the area of public procurement.
Government of Nigeria, the Swiss Federal Council and the World Bank have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the repatriation and monitoring of $321 million of funds illicitly acquired by the family of the late former President of Nigeria, General Sani Abacha.
The MOU was signed during the Global Forum on Asset Recovery, a three-day forum hosted by the United Kingdom and the United States with support from the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative.
The MOU captures the tripartite agreement on the World Bank’s monitoring role and the proposed modalities of the funds repatriation and disbursement, following a December 2014 Swiss court order that the funds be repatriated.
The responsibility for the use of the funds is with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
The Nigerian authorities requested the funds be used to support a program of targeted cash transfers to poor and vulnerable Nigerians under the National Social Safety Net Project financed by a credit extended by the International Development Association.
The parties have agreed to establish monitoring framework for the use of the repatriated funds that will enhance transparency and accountability.
To that end, the Federal Government of Nigeria will engage civil society organizations to help monitor the use of the funds.
In December 2014, a Swiss court ruled that the Swiss government should repatriate the funds on condition that the World Bank would monitor their use.
On December 4th, 2017, the Federal Government of Nigeria, the Swiss Federal Council and the World Bank signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) capturing the tripartite agreement on the World Bank’s monitoring role and the modalities of the funds repatriation and disbursement.
While the World Bank’s role is limited to monitoring the use of the funds, the responsibility for the use of the funds is with the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In 2006, the World Bank was involved in a similar effort providing institutional support for the sustainable use of repatriated funds from Switzerland amounting to approximately $723 million, which was illicitly acquired by the late General Sani Abacha’s family.
Through our partnership with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime on the Stolen Asset Recovery (StAR) Initiative, we are providing advice and helping countries recover stolen assets. The core of StAR’s work lies in country engagements that aim at building the capacity of the various stakeholders engaged in asset recovery and facilitating international cooperation on asset recovery cases. Country engagement programs are generally longer-term, and delivered using mentors, advisory services and training.
In December 2017, StAR provided organizational support for the Global Forum on Asset Recovery, which was hosted by the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom. This forum addressed the importance of strong political commitment and collaboration among practitioners, focusing on assistance to Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia, and Ukraine as first priority countries.
The World Bank is also actively working with countries to strengthen transparency and accountability and to reduce illicit financial flows.
It is working to improve access to information on beneficial owners for public authorities and strengthen the exchange of tax information.
The World Bank is also helping governments build systems for asset disclosure by public officials and to protect against money laundering. These efforts to build transparency and accountability also aim to ensure that clean public officials and business are recognized, while corrupt and criminal ones are sanctioned.
On 20 December 2017, EU ambassadors confirmed the political agreement reached between the presidency and the European Parliament on strengthened EU rules to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.
The draft directive has two main objectives:
-preventing the use of the financial system for the funding of criminal activities;
-strengthening transparency rules to prevent the large-scale concealment of funds.
The aim is to close down criminal finance without hindering the normal functioning of financial markets and payment systems. Amending directive 2015/849, the agreed text seeks to balance the need for increased security with the protection of fundamental rights and economic freedoms.
The proposal is part of a Commission action plan against terrorist financing, established in 2016 following a spate of terrorist attacks in Europe.
"Today's agreement is an important step in removing the means available to terrorists", said Toomas Tõniste, minister for finance of Estonia, which currently holds the Council presidency. "It contains new measures that will help the authorities to better track financial flows and disrupt the financing of criminal networks"
The main changes to directive 2015/849 involve:
- enhanced access to beneficial ownership registers, so as to improve transparency in the ownership of companies and trusts. The registers will also be interconnected to facilitate cooperation between member states. Access to information on beneficial ownership is foreseen as follows:
-public access to beneficial ownership information on companies;
-access on the basis of 'legitimate interest' to beneficial ownership information on trusts and similar legal arrangements;
-public access upon written request to beneficial ownership information on trusts that own a company that is not incorporated in the EU;
Member states will retain the right to provide broader access to information, in accordance with their national law.
- addressing risks linked to prepaid cards and virtual currencies. The threshold for identifying the holders of prepaid cards is lowered from €250 to €150, and customer verification requirements are extended. Virtual currency exchange platforms and custodian wallet providers will have to apply customer due diligence controls, ending the anonymity associated with such exchanges;
- improving cooperation between the member states' financial intelligence units. FIUs will have access to information in centralised bank and payment account registers, enabling them to identify account holders;
- improved checks on risky third countries. The Commission has established and regularly updates a harmonised list of non-EU countries with deficiencies in their anti-money laundering prevention regimes. Additional due diligence measures will be required for financial flows from these countries. The list builds on that established at international level by the Financial Action Task Force.
Parliament and Council will now be called on to adopt the proposed directive at first reading. The Council requires a qualified majority. (Legal basis: article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.)
The European Union has agreed to implement stricter rules on exchange platforms that deal with virtual currencies, including bitcoin. The measure is part of an effort to prevent terrorist financing and money laundering.
The European Parliament and the European Council agreed to a new set of rules on Friday that target exchange platforms for bitcoin and other virtual currencies.
The new measures would require platforms to identify users that previously allowed users to remain anonymous.
What do the new measures entail?
-Requires platforms that transfer bitcoin and "wallet" providers that hold cryptocurrencies for clients to identify users
-Limits use of pre-paid payment cards
-Raises transparency requirements for company and trust owners
-Allows national investigators more access to information, including national bank account registers
-Grants access to data on the beneficiaries of trusts to "persons who can demonstrate a legitimate interest".
How were the changes recieved?
Europe's Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova hailed the new rules, saying: "Today's agreement will bring more transparency to improve the prevention of money laundering and to cut off terrorist financing."
Rights group Transparency International said the deal was a "breakthrough" but noted that certain loopholes remain, including a "lack of public access to information on the beneficiaries of trusts and similar arrangements."
The EU lawmaker in charge of the issue, Dutch politician Judith Sargentini noted that certain EU member states opposed the new measures as they were concerned they might have a negative impact on their economies. She said the opposing countries included Britain, Malta, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Ireland.
Why the change is happening now:
The changes were put forward by the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, in the wake of the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels in 2015 and 2016 with officials saying bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were being used to finance terrorists. It took more than a year of negotiations for the new measures to be approved.
The bitcoin boom:
The new EU measures have also come as bitcoin's prices have surged over 1,700 percent since the start of the year — a development that has helped grant legitimacy to the virtual currency while also sparking fears that the bitcoin bubble could soon burst.
Preventing money laundering:
In the wake of the Panama Papers and Paradise Papers leaks, the EU has vowed to do more to crack down on tax avoidance and money laundering. The leaks detailed how numerous politicians and celebrities funneled their money into shell companies in tax havens.
Friday's deal revises the EU's "Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive" which was enacted in 2015. At the time, it was the most sweeping anti-money laundering directive to take effect in Europe, creating a register of owners of companies for national authorities to access.
What happens next:
The new rules must now be formally adopted by the EU's member states and then turned into national laws within the next 18 months.
DOHA, Qatar – International experts in human trafficking and migrant smuggling are calling for expanded cross-sector involvement in order to protect the world’s most vulnerable from the exploitation of organized crime groups.
With such groups constantly innovating in their pursuit for low-risk, high profit margins, discussions during the 5th edition of the INTERPOL Global Trafficking in Human Beings and Smuggling of Migrants Conference will focus on the essential role both the public and private sector play in preventing, detecting, reporting, disrupting and ultimately prosecuting those responsible for crimes which have no borders, and no limits.
Participants will explore emerging trends such as trafficking for forced criminality including drug cultivation or pickpocketing. They will also focus on how the private sector is developing tools to help law enforcement in the disruption of trafficking and smuggling activities.
The two-day (6 and 7 December 2017) event, co-hosted by Qatar’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, has gathered more than 300 experts from law enforcement, the public and private sectors, non-governmental and international organizations from 90 countries.
Opening the conference, Dr Issa bin Saad Al Jufali Al Nuaimi, Qatar’s Minister of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs, highlighted the country’s efforts to act on a local, regional and international level. “Our collective efforts, however, will not be successful unless we address the root causes of the phenomenon, whether they are cultural, economic, political, ideological or social,” said Dr Al Nuaimi.
In his keynote address, Vice President for the Americas of INTERPOL’s Executive Committee Todd Shean said: “While our focus will remain on law enforcement and prosecution, we must also strengthen our collective efforts to ensure that victims are protected throughout law enforcement and judicial processes. Only by working in coordinated efforts can we hope to develop concrete, sustainable actions.”
Paul Stanfield, INTERPOL Director for Organized and Emerging Crime, underlined the world police body’s long-standing commitment to tackling trafficking in human beings and the smuggling of migrants.
“INTERPOL is a neutral and vital global platform, where the world’s police and key stakeholders can converge to share best practices, assessments, and intelligence. Tackling the horrors of modern slavery requires a massive global effort, which INTERPOL is fiercely dedicated to,” said Mr Stanfield.
He pointed to the recent success of INTERPOL’s Operation Epervier as an example of efficient cross-sector collaboration. The operation, which saw the rescue of 500 victims from sexual exploitation and forced labour, as well as the arrest of 40 suspected traffickers, was held simultaneously across five African countries and involved prosecutors, international organizations, social services and NGOs.
INTERPOL also supports its global membership via its secure communications system known as I-24/7. This gives police real-time access to criminal databases containing millions of records on identity documents, biometrics. Its Notices can also be used to alert member countries to fugitives, criminals, modus operandi or missing persons.
NASSAU, Bahamas – Developing the knowledge and skills of specialized officials to identify fraudulent documents was the focus of an INTERPOL workshop in Nassau.
Involving 16 border control officers and law enforcement officials from four countries – Bahamas, Colombia, Jamaica and Mexico – the three-day (6 – 8 December) security document examination training sought to enhance border security by developing the capacity of participants to detect fake and counterfeit travel documents often used by criminals and terrorists.
"It has become very easy for people and goods to cross international borders. Hence, international cooperation must be strengthened to guard against the increase of fraudulent documents which threatens national security," said the Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Nassau, Telinda Missick.
During the training course, the second to be jointly delivered by INTERPOL’s Counterfeit and Security Documents Branch (CSDB) and international digital security company Gemalto, participants also took part in practical exercises which examined printing methods, document security features, document verification technologies and examination techniques.
“Building the capacity of stakeholders to secure documents from counterfeiting is one of Gemalto’s key missions as a major industry expert, and we are looking forward to an expanded collaboration with partners such as INTERPOL on this important issue,” said Lovro Persen, Security Documents and Product Expert at Gemalto.
With the first such training course held in Uruguay in December 2015, INTERPOL CCSD Coordinator Daniela Djidrovska said: "This second joint INTERPOL-Gemalto training has underlined the need to bring together forensic document examiners and border control officers from INTERPOL member countries to strengthen and improve the methodology in detecting fraudulent documents through enhanced use of INTERPOL’s global tools and databases."
These include its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database; Dial-Doc, which allows immigration and border officers to compare documents against recently detected fakes; and the Edison database which gives frontline officers access to detailed examples of genuine travel documents from around the world.
MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica – Specialized officers from INTERPOL member countries are meeting to review and enhance best practices in international fugitive investigations.
Participants at the 7th Global Operational Symposium on Fugitives will in particular review high priority fugitive and ‘cold’ crime cases, and look to shape a strong network of fugitive investigators from around the world.
The four-day (5 – 8 December) meeting brings together 100 officials from some 70 countries dealing with international search requests and fugitives in order to better develop their understanding of INTERPOL’s global capabilities, such as the publication of Notices.
They will focus on the latest techniques and the role of information sharing and international cooperation to locate and arrest international fugitives avoiding justice.
One of INTERPOL’s most powerful tools in tracking international fugitives is the Red Notice. This seeks the provisional arrest of a wanted person with a view to extradition and is circulated to police in all INTERPOL member countries. Red notices contain identification details and judicial information on a wanted person.
In this respect a Jamaican national targeted by his country under a Red Notice on charges of robbery, attempted murder and wounding with intent was arrested in New York last month by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents.
The symposium will enable participants to exchange experiences on case studies and address a range of topics including electronic surveillance, extraditions and initiatives such as INTERPOL’s Infra (International Fugitive Round up and Arrest) series of operations. Infra brings together law enforcement officers regionally and worldwide to locate and arrest criminals who have fled their national jurisdiction.
The nine Infra operations since 2009 have to date led to the arrest of more than 540 individuals, with almost another 300 positively located, for crimes including drugs and firearms trafficking, sexual offences, people smuggling and environmental crime.
Hosted by the Jamaica Constabulary Force and INTERPOL’s Fugitive Investigative Support unit, the fugitives symposium represents one of the world’s foremost events dedicated to fugitive investigations.
Commissioner George Quallo from the Jamaica Constabulary Force said: “The Jamaica Constabulary Force pledges its continued support and collaboration with INTERPOL. This fugitive symposium is very timely and comes at a time when technological advances make it easy for transnational crimes to flourish and criminals fleeing law enforcement to move across borders and territories. Jamaica will continue to exercise vigilance and implement appropriate operational responses to help curtail this activity.”
With INTERPOL’s global databases now queried almost 200 times every second, these have become amongst the key capabilities the Organization provides its member countries to prevent and investigate crime.
The Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s fugitives unit, Ioannis Kokkinis, said: “Fugitives are mobile and opportunistic, for them there are no borders. This operational meeting is an important opportunity for member countries to work together to locate and arrest international fugitives, using the latest techniques and the power of international cooperation via INTERPOL.”
In this respect INTERPOL’s Command and Coordination Centre offers a point of contact for any member country seeking urgent police information on crimes and investigations, or facing a crisis situation.
The Organization also continues to push for greater expansion of its I-24/7 secure police communications system so as to reach the frontlines of policing across the globe, ensuring the timely availability of information.
LYON, France – Responding to the threats posed by foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs), INTERPOL is working to increase the use of its biometrics databases and capabilities to better track their movements globally.
Launched earlier this year, Project First is among INTERPOL’s initiatives to assist law enforcement in member countries in enhancing their border security through the use of biometric data – such as fingerprints and facial recognition – on FTFs and other individuals linked to terrorist activities.
Underscoring the growing recognition of biometrics as a critical tool against transnational crime, speakers at the 1st INTERPOL Fingerprint and Face Symposium, organized by INTERPOL’s Fingerprints unit, included the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, the UK ACRO Criminal Records Office and the Biometrics Institute.
The two-day (5 and 6 December) conference brought together some 125 experts in the fields of fingerprint examination and facial recognition from 58 countries, private sector partners and academia to discuss the latest biometric tools and techniques.
With member countries sharing examples of potentially dangerous individuals identified as the result of integrating INTERPOL’s biometrics databases into their border checks, the participants also discussed the need for improving the quality of biometric data shared for more accurate identifications which can be used in prosecutions.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock highlighted the importance of law enforcement moving from a ‘need to know’ to a ‘need to share’ culture relating to biometric data on known and suspected terrorists, and ensuring that this data reaches officers on the frontlines in a timely manner.
“It is vital for our membership to continue the information flow through INTERPOL’s secure platform, as the proven method to close information gaps,” said the INTERPOL Chief.
INTERPOL’s fingerprint database contains more than 180,000 records supporting more than 40,000 searches every year, leading to more than 1,700 global identifications in 2017. A facial images database was launched in 2016 with data provided by more than 135 countries and has generated some 50 positive ‘hits’ in its first year.
With the exchange of forensic data in international investigations ‘a core, fundamental aspect of INTERPOL’s policing capabilities’, Secretary General Stock pointed to a case where Greek authorities ran checks of migrants arriving by boat against INTERPOL’s fingerprint database, leading to the identification of an individual wanted in connection with a terrorist attack in the Caucasus.
Libya and the US have agreed to continue working together to stop funds going to terrrosists and terrorist organisations.
The issue was one of the points of discussion in talks in Washington between Presidency Council (PC) head Faiez Serraj and US Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.
A statement afterwards from the US Treasury Department said that economic issues facing the Libyan people had been discussed and that Mnuchin had welcomed the department’s “strong engagement” with the PC’s government of national accord (GNA) and the Central Bank of Libya (CBL).
He was referring to the lead the Americans have taken via the US embassy to Libya in trying to bring about economic stability in Libya. The US has mentored a series of financial and economic dialogue meetings – in London, Rome and Tunis – aimed at ensuring the PC and the GNA have the funding from the CBL to function properly.
The statement also noted that both men “underscored the importance of continued cooperation in countering the financing of terrorism”.
Thanking the US for its support in trying to resolve the financial and economic crises, Serraj told Mnuchin that these were key elements in the broader Libyan disaster.
According to a statement from his office, Serraj also said that he believed that Libya could overcome the crisis, if a package of economic and monetary policies were put in place in cooperation with the CBL.
A recently formed working group is just the latest step taken by regional states to confront terrorism financing.
Amid a busy few weeks of regional meetings in Southeast Asia, with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) in Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and related summits in the Philippines, some may have missed the creation of a new Asia-Pacific counter-terrorism financing group that was announced last week. The new body, which was the outcome of a meeting held in Malaysia, deserves attention within the wider context of ongoing efforts by regional states to tackle a knotty aspect of the terrorism challenge in the subregion.
A key line of effort in regional responses to the terrorism threat in Southeast Asia has been countering terrorism financing. Australia and Indonesia in particular have been taking in the lead in this area, with the inaugural Asia-Pacific Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit (CTF Summit) launched in Sydney in November 2015 and then a subsequent meeting held in Bali in August 2016.
From November 20 to 23, Malaysia hosted the third iteration of the CTF Summit, which was organized by Bank Negara in partnership with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) and Indonesia’s Pusat Pelaporan dan Analisis Transaksi Keuangan (PPATK). The summit featured several highlights, from an inaugural Codeathon between international financial intelligence units (FIUs) (with the first ASEAN-Australia one to the held in Sydney next March) to the delivery of the first regional terrorism financing risk assessment report for non-profit organizations (NPOs), which had been placed on the agenda the previous year. Some important initiatives were also agreed to, including a pledge to undertake a multilateral financial intelligence exercise.
But the key outcome at the summit was the establishment of the Southeast Asia Counterterrorism Working Group (SEA CTFWG). The basic idea of the new SEA CTFWG is to coordinate information-sharing among financial intelligence units and other relevant regional agencies that play a role in countering terrorism financing to directly target and disrupt funding of terrorist groups in the region.
In terms of structure and focus, according to the Australian government, SEA CTFWG will comprise Southeast Asian financial intelligence units co-led by AUSTRAC as well as the Philippines Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC). According to Australia, it will comprise four lines of effort to target and disrupt the funding lifeline of terrorist groups: preventing their use of the international financial system; countering extortion and exploitation of economic assets, resources, and the regional population; denying Southeast Asian terrorism funding from abroad; and preventing groups from providing financial or material support to Islamic State and other terrorist groups and their affiliates.
The formation of SEA CTFWG and the shape of its mandate come as no surprise. Indeed, this was a logical next step in line with the growing attention already given to the area of countering terrorism financing by regional states as well as the recognized need to institutionalize certain forms of collaboration.
The challenge of countering terrorism financing is also a difficult one because it is tied to broader issues that are tough to confront, ranging from the shadowy links terror groups and affiliates have, which play into their funding sources and methods, to operationalizing effective intelligence-sharing (not just between countries, but at times even between agencies of the same country) that actually translates into enforcement.
As of now, SEA CTFWG’s evolution is set to continue on through 2018, with Thailand already committing to host the next meeting and some progress likely expected in the interim as well, particularly with counterterrorism set to be a key agenda item in the ASEAN-Australia Summit coming up in March 2018. Australia has committed to this as one of a series of counterterrorism initiatives as part of a wider package for which funding has already been allocated. With growing interest from some Southeast Asian states, who see SEA CTFWG’s value, as well as ongoing efforts to expand membership of working groups, the case for sustainability is a strong one.
Russia and China on Monday agreed to India's position on countering terrorism — including blocking terror funding, arms supply and flow of foreign terrorist fighters — and condemned state-sponsored terror without naming Pakistan.
Foreign Ministers of the three countries at the 15th edition of their trilateral meet in Delhi also underlined the primary and leading role and responsibility of countries in preventing and countering terrorism and extremism, and suggested that all state should take adequate measures to prevent terrorist activities from their territory.
In a joint statement foreign minister Sushma Swaraj and her Russian and Chinese counterparts Sergey Lavrov and Wang Yi emphasised the need for a comprehensive approach in combating terrorism.
They resolved to step up cooperation to prevent and counter terrorism and radicalisation, combat the spread of terrorist ideology and propaganda, stop sources of terrorist financing, prevent travelling of and the supply of arms to terrorists, dismantle terrorist infrastructure, disrupt recruitment and the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, and prevent misuse of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for terrorist purposes.
The Russia-India-China (RIC) joint communique also stressed that "those committing, organising, inciting or supporting terrorist acts must be held accountable and brought to justice in accordance with the obligations under international law, including the principle of 'extradite or prosecute' as well as the applicable domestic legislations".
"We agree to strengthen cooperation to take decisive and concerted actions against globally proscribed terrorists and terror entities," it said. "We condemn all forms of terrorism and all terrorists, terror entities and organisations listed by the UN Security Council."
The three countries also sought to intensify cooperation in multilateral fora including Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organisation targeting money laundering and terror financing, and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs) so as to cut the flows of funds, and other financial assets and economic resources to individuals and entities involved in terrorism including those proscribed under the relevant United Nations sanctions.
Australia - Laws to crack down on the use of digital currencies like Bitcoin for money laundering and terrorism financing have passed federal parliament.
Legislation cracking down on counter-terrorism financing and money laundering has cleared the federal parliament.
Attorney-General George Brandis told parliament the measures will strengthen protections against Australian businesses being misused for money laundering or the financing of terrorism.
The bill had bipartisan support, but Labor senator Deb O'Neill said the changes didn't go far enough.
Senator Brandis said any suggestion the legislation was piecemeal was ill-conceived.
"Counter-terrorism financing is a complex area. This bill deals with certain particular aspects of the problem," he said on Thursday.
"The government has introduced other legislation earlier in the year to deal with other aspects."
The new regime will strengthen AUSTRAC's intelligence sharing and enforcement powers.
The changes also clamp down on the use of digital currencies such as Bitcoin for money laundering and terrorism financing.
Washington D.C. December 4-6, 2017.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America co-hosted the first Global Forum on Asset Recovery (GFAR) in Washington DC on 4-6 December 2017, with support from the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR), a joint initiative of the World Bank and UN Office of Drugs and Crime. The forum focused on the recovery of assets stolen from Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine.
Over 300 participants representing 26 jurisdictions as well as international organisations, civil society and media, came together at GFAR to recommit to the global asset recovery agenda; share best practices; provide technical training to asset recovery practitioners; and support capacity building initiatives. Most importantly, GFAR provided the opportunity for over 80 bilateral and multi-jurisdictional meetings to make progress on significant asset recovery cases in the four focus countries. It provided a platform for the signing of new agreements, including a significant new MOU between Nigeria, Switzerland and the World Bank which sets out the return of $321m of recovered assets.
The United Kingdom, the United States, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and Ukraine, welcome the renewed commitment to the global asset recovery agenda demonstrated at GFAR.
● Welcome the high-level political commitment from all participating countries to continue to afford one another the widest measure of cooperation and support in asset recovery, consistent with relevant provisions of the UN Convention against Corruption, and to use GFAR to translate commitments into reality.
● Commit to continue to strengthen efforts to prevent corruption before it starts, including implementing codes of conduct, ethics training, whistleblower protections, and integrity in public institutions, and urge other countries to do so. These efforts can protect assets and prevent them from being stolen.
● Recognize the importance of strengthening international asset recovery processes and implementation of the UN Convention against Corruption as the global legal framework on asset recovery. We reiterate the importance of strengthening the recovery and return of stolen assets consistent with Goal 16 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
● Call on states to implement asset recovery commitments including the G20 High-Level Principles on Asset Recovery and commitments made at the 2016 London AntiCorruption Summit where 21 countries committed to strengthening or reinforcing legislation to ensure stolen assets can be recovered and 11 countries committed to developing guidelines for the transparent and accountable return of stolen assets.
● Recognize the important role of international organisations and practitioner networks, including the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative Camden Asset Recovery Interagency Network (CARIN) and similar bodies, the Global Focal Points Network on Asset Recovery, Egmont Group, and the newly created International Anti-Corruption Coordination Center (IACCC).
● Recognize the multi-stakeholder nature of asset recovery and will continue to promote dialogue, trust and collaboration between civil society, media, law enforcement and other government bodies.
● Acknowledge the valuable contribution made by civil society organizations, and will continue to provide support for their work. We urge states to provide funding to support global asset recovery efforts.
● Acknowledge the important efforts of the Arab and Ukraine Fora for Asset Recovery, organized under the leadership of the G7 between 2011 and 2015. These galvanized political will on asset recovery, prompted action across multiple jurisdictions, and facilitated detailed practitioner exchanges. Arab Forum countries came together at GFAR to discuss experiences and lessons learned from the AFAR process, which will be outlined in a final report. We commit to applying this knowledge in our ongoing asset recovery efforts.
● Acknowledge that challenges exist, and agree that success in asset recovery requires partnership and that responsibilities and efforts are needed on both the requesting and requested sides.
We recognise the important role that the inaugural GFAR has played in providing a platform to:
● Sign a Memorandum of Understanding between Nigeria, Switzerland and the World Bank setting out the return of $321m of recovered assets
● Discuss transparency in the return of assets and welcome the GFAR Principles for the Disposition and Transfer of Confiscated Stolen Assets in Corruption Cases.
● Share experience around innovative approaches to asset recovery including forensic accounting tools, and legal tools such as non-conviction based asset forfeiture, illicit enrichment provisions and rapid freezing powers.
● Consider the renewal of freezing measures or extending statutes of limitations of offenses so that assets remain frozen in the context of lengthy legal processes. 3
● Commit to strengthen cooperation as well as continue to make progress on asset recovery cases and call on other states to do the same, recognizing the importance of an effective and coordinated law enforcement response and of building dialogue, trust and collaboration between jurisdictions.
● Commit to participate actively in expert-level deliberations under the UN Convention against Corruption, including its Asset Recovery Working Group, to help share our challenges and lessons learned with the global law enforcement community.
● Recognize the importance of creating opportunities for states to share experience and good practice, and welcome GFAR reconvening as required, when significant and complex asset recovery case coordination efforts are necessary. Hosts and organizers will be determined based on the country or countries in need and the type of assistance identified collectively by financial centers and requesting countries.
VIENNA (Reuters) - The European Union needs to consider regulating bitcoin, European Central Bank ratesetter Ewald Nowotny said on Monday, citing the risk of money laundering.
The cryptocurrency has surged from $1,000 at the start of the year to above $16,000, and its futures jumped more than 20 percent to a high of $18,700 in their U.S. debut on Sunday night.
The steep gains have prompted many to question its real value and ask whether a bubble has emerged, and central bankers are worried they will be blamed if the as yet unregulated market crashes.
“Simply because of the scale, it is certainly increasingly necessary to discuss whether and in what form regulations are needed here,” said Nowotny, who is also Austria’s central bank governor.
“A particular aspect that needs to be discussed ...is the question of how far the regulations on money laundering ...are relevant here,” he told a news conference.
While even small lenders were subject to strict controls on money laundering, it made no sense that even large bitcoin transactions could proceed without similar checks, he said, though this was a matter for the European Union rather than the ECB.
The still relatively small scale of the market in relation to traditional currencies also meant the problem was not that it threatened the current monetary system, he said.
Although there was no solid data, Austria appeared to be attracting companies selling bitcoin because it was perceived to be relatively easy to get a license to operate there, Nowotny told reporters.
“We now have indications that we here in Austria have a more lax, a simpler regulation than in Germany... and we therefore also see a trend that such granting (of licenses) is increasingly shifting to Austria. And we have absolutely no interest in that,” he said.
Austria should at least match German regulations, he said, adding: “Ultimately we must settle this at the European level.”
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 12, 2017, on page 4.
LONDON: Britain said Monday it would create a new national economic crime center to crack down harder on money laundering by drug dealers and people traffickers who are expected to net 90 billion pounds ($120.3 billion) this year.
As a unit of the existing National Crime Agency, the center will be tasked with coordinating a national response among the agencies that tackle money laundering and fraud and with increasing the confiscation of crime proceeds.
Britain’s Interior Minister Amber Rudd said the new initiative was part of a package of measures in response to a review of the country’s economic crime agencies.
“The measures we have announced today will significantly improve our ability to tackle the most serious cases of economic crime by ensuring our agencies have the tools and investment they need to investigate, prosecute and confiscate criminal assets,” Rudd said in a statement.
Britain’s plan to exit the European Union in 2019 has raised fears of a “bonfire of regulation” that could occur thereafter and result in the City of London losing its top global financial center ranking.
Strengthening the integrity of Britain as a financial center will be a top priority under the package, which also includes proposed new laws.
These would allow the new center to directly task the Serious Fraud Office to investigate the worst offenders in a step that will buttress the SFO, whose future as a standalone entity has been in doubt.
SFO Director David Green is due to step down next year.
Separately Monday, the Attorney General’s Office, a government department, said the SFO would continue to act as an independent organization, supporting the multiagency response led by the NCA.
“We will begin recruitment for the SFO’s next director very soon,” the AGO said in a statement.
The government estimates that financial fraud costs the country 6.8 billion pounds a year, or more than 100 pounds per person.
Rudd will chair a new economic crime strategic board to ensure the right resources are allocated across law enforcement agencies to tackle economic crime, the Interior Ministry statement said.
With only a modest portion of criminal proceeds confiscated, the package announced Monday makes further commitments to seizing criminal assets through greater use of existing powers by the SFO, the NCA and tax authorities.
There will also be a review of existing rules on confiscating proceeds of crime in order to improve the process by which confiscation orders are made and applied.
Bitcoin's anonymity is a concern for the Treasury and MPs
The UK Government is looking to step up regulation of bitcoinamid concerns criminals are using cryptocurrencies to launder money and avoid taxes.
The Treasury wants to regulate bitcoin under European Union anti-money laundering rules, forcing traders in the cryptocurrency to disclose their identities and any suspicious activity.
It expects changes to new EU-wide rules to come into effect by the end of December or early next year.
Bitcoin currently works by anonymous trading, which has fuelled fears that it could be an attractive way of funding illegal activity.
A rise of 1,000 per cent in value this year has worried MPs and banks alike.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Treasury Select Committee member John Mann said he expects the Government to carry out an inquiry over regulating digital currencies.
“These new forms of exchange are expanding rapidly and we’ve got to make sure we don’t get left behind – that’s particularly important in terms of money-laundering, terrorism or pure theft”, he said.
"It would be timely to have a proper look at what this means. It may be that we want to speed up our use of these kinds of thing in this country, but that makes it all the more important that we don't have a regulatory lag."
A Treasury spokesperson said: "We are working to address concerns about the use of cryptocurrencies, by negotiating to bring virtual currency exchange platforms and some wallet providers within Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing regulation".
Bitcoin hit record highs of $11,879 (£8,842) on Sunday night, before dropping to $11,253 on Morning morning, according to online cryptocurrency trading platform Coin Exchange.
Luxembourg is to create registers containing information about company and trust owners and beneficiaries in an effort to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
Two draft bills, which were presented on Wednesday, will enshrine in law the fourth European anti-money laundering directive. Both texts clarify the type of information to be disclosed, which groups will have access to the registers and sanctions that companies or trusts will incur if they fail to share information requested about their owners.
The registers will concern entities which come under Luxembourg’s legal jurisdiction.
Access to data contained in these two registers will be strictly regulated, parliament said in a press release.
The first register will be for companies and other legal entities in the Register of Commerce and Companies (RCSL): the register should be available for national authorities (such as the prosecution service) and national professionals (such as the Bar Association for example) and used in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
In addition, it is expected that other individuals or national organisations could access the register upon request, provided they have a “legitimate interest”. A coordinating commission, established at the justice ministry, should then decide on a case by case basis.
This provision could give access to investigative journalists or a Luxembourg representative of a consortium of journalists, without opening the register to all journalists.
The second register will be for trusts within the Registration and Domains Administration. Access should be restricted to the relevant authorities, including the public prosecutor's office, examining magistrates, members of the judicial police or the intelligence service, as well as the administration of the direct taxes and the licensing office.
Luxembourg justice minister Félix Braz pointed out that a certain number of mechanisms were planned to ensure the quality of the information recorded, with the aim of ensuring the processes “credibility”.
During discussions, MPs highlighted the possible difficulties the registers would create for entities with a chain of economic beneficiaries such as certain investment funds.
BENGALURU: India's largest lender State Bank of India will roll out beta launches of blockchain-enabled smart contracts by next month, according to Sudin Baraokar, head of innovation, SBI.
Blockchain-enabled Know Your Customer (KYC) will soon follow suit. These applications are part of BankChain, a community of 27 banks, which have joined hands to explore and build blockchain solutions for banking.
"By next month, we should have two beta production solutions ready for use by the 27 banks. We will also invite further participation. The beta production that will be ready are smart contracts and second is KYC," said Baraokar.
BankChain was formed in February with State Bank of India being the first member. It now has 22 Indian banks, including ICICI Bank, DCB Bank and Axis Bank, and five Middle East-based banks. BankChain has tied up with Pune-based startup Primechain Technologies to create these solutions.
"BankChain is a big move. It is getting all banks together and collaborating. It is also de-risking our investment in emerging tech, so that all banks can come and invest at once...we can also share knowledge and reduce the cost. We can also use each other's technical teams to take this forward. We focused on solutions that the bank does not have...things like smart contracts, which is not regulatory heavy. We focused on those solutions," said Baraokar, in a chat with ET, at the recently concluded Bengaluru Tech Summit.
Smart contracts are basically contracts which use blockchain, a distributed and decentralised ledger, to maintain contracts between parties. The code and agreements are public, hence traceable and irreversible and thereby do not need any enforcement agency.
"Smart contracts can be used for simple things like non-disclosure agreement... rather than signing forms. A lot of internal processes can be contracted. We do a lot of IT procurement, a lot of it can be implemented using blockchain," said Baraokar.
SBI is also in the design phase of setting up an innovation centre in Navi Mumbai which will explore how emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), predictive analytics, etc., can help in easing various processes in banking. The centre, which is expected to be completed by mid next year, will house selected startups.
"We are building an innovation centre (to explore) AI, ML, blockchain, RPA, visualisation, predictive analytics, etc. We will be having zones for these. We can start collaborating and developing these solutions. It is a physical innovation centre at our IT headquarters in Navi Mumbai. We are in the design phase. We have allocated a dedicated innovation fund. We expect to see this up by middle of next year," said Baraokar.
The centre will host hackathons, incubate startups and will also bring in vendors and internal talent to guide selected startups.
World over, banks are looking into blockchain to come up with easy and secure solutions for processes such as peer-to-peer payments, loans syndication, KYC, cross-border payments and virtual currencies.
Financial Times - December 5, 2017.
EUfinance ministers have blacklisted 17 countries for refusing to co-operate with its crackdown on tax havens but have welcomed reform promises from 47 other nations. Announcing the outcome of months of screening of global tax policies, Brussels said its inaugural list of non-compliant nations was a step forward but admitted it was not enough. Campaigners against tax avoidance also said the EU’s blacklist would have little effect without sanctions or other financial penalties. Panama, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates were all placed on the list of non-compliant jurisdictions. Countries that have said they will make reforms, including Switzerland, Turkey and Hong Kong, were added to a so-called “grey list”. The blacklist — compiled by the European Council’s code of conduct group — was an “insufficient response to the scale of tax evasion worldwide”, said Pierre Moscovici, European commissioner for tax. He called for member states to “set a precise timetable” to examine the grey-listed countries’ commitments in six months time. Current plans are to reconsider the list annually. Developed grey-list countries have one year to deliver on their reform promises while developing nations have two years. Beyond being named, countries currently face few consequences from being blacklisted. Some EU funding legislation does include reference to the blacklist and the bloc’s finance ministers will discuss specific countermeasures next year. “It is completely pointless to have a blacklist with no sanctions,” said Alex Cobham of the Tax Justice Network. “Tax avoiders and the countries that sponsor them will all be letting out a sigh of relief today.” “As long as the Council cannot agree on common sanctions against listed tax havens, the blacklist will be toothless,” said MEP Sven Giegold, a Green party spokesman on financial and economic policy. Aurore Chardonnet of the charity Oxfam said: “It seems the EU’s pressure has obliged some of the most notorious tax havens like Switzerland and Bermuda to commit to reforms . . . However, placing countries on a ‘grey list’ shouldn't just be a way of letting them off the hook, as has happened with other blacklisting efforts in the past.” The list is an important part of Europe’s decade-long tax crackdown on aggressive tax avoidance, in co-ordination with efforts led by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. International tax structures have been pushed up the agenda by a succession of leaked revelations about various jurisdictions, including the Lux leaks, Panama papers and Paradise papers. Eight Caribbean countries that suffered extensive hurricane damage this year — Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, Turks and Caicos and the US Virgin Islands — have been given extra time to respond to the EU’s request and do not appear on any list. To stay off the list, countries must have fair tax rules, which the EU defines as not offering preferential measures or arrangements that enable companies to move profits to avoid levies. They must also meet transparency standards and implement anti-profit-shifting measures set by the OECD. EU members were not screened but Oxfam said that if the criteria were applied to publicly available information the list should feature 35 countries including EU members Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Malta. International authorities have previously published similar blacklists, but most have struggled for credibility. The OECD’s tax haven list published in June 2016 contained only one country — Trinidad & Tobago. The 17 countries on the European list are American Samoa, Bahrain, Barbados, Grenada, Guam, South Korea, Macau, the Marshall Islands, Mongolia, Namibia, Palau, Panama, St Lucia, Samoa, Trinidad & Tobago, Tunisia and the UAE.
LYON, France – Conducting effective international investigations into corruption and related financial crimes was the focus of INTERPOL training courses in Africa and the Middle East.
Topics of discussion during the 18th and 19th INTERPOL Global Programmes on Anti-Corruption, Financial Crimes and Asset Recovery in Namibia (20-24 November) and Bahrain (28-30 November) included anti-money laundering tools, asset recovery techniques, evidence management, challenges in applying regional and international protocols, and INTERPOL’s anti-corruption policing capabilities.
Some 70 senior investigators, judges and prosecutors from 11 countries attended the two training courses to share experiences and best practices for investigating cases of corruption and recovering stolen assets.
Practical exercises and case studies on financial crime analysis and asset recovery allowed the participants to apply their newly learned skills to real-life scenarios.
Anti-corruption and financial crime experts from INTERPOL, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and national anti-corruption and prosecution agencies shared their expertise during the training workshops.
The workshops were coordinated by INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption unit in partnership with the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Namibia and the General Directorate of Anti-Corruption, Economic and Electronic Security of Bahrain. Both workshops were primarily funded by the US Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.
Countries participating in the training sessions were Bahrain, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
16,381,204 were in circulation as of mid-2017, says Chainalysis
Up to 3.79 million bitcoin have been lost and may never be recovered, according to a study.
At the time of writing, that adds up to $43,088,510,000, with a single bitcoin currently worth $11,369.
James Howells, an IT worker from Newport, claims to have lost 7,500 bitcoin – which would be worth $85,125,000 (£63,284,463) today – on his own, after he accidentally threw away the hard drive he’d been storing them on.
According to new research conducted by Chainalysis and published on Fortune, as of November 2017, between 2.78 million and 3.79 million bitcoin have been lost.
Both figures assume that the 1.04 million bitcoin mined by bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto are lost.
However, it’s possible that the mysterious figure will come back to claim their fortune.
The firm estimates that 16,381,204 bitcoin were in circulation as of mid-2017, with just over five million yet to be mined.
Howells, who lost his bitcoin haul in 2013, is now considering digging up the landfill he believes his hard drive is buried in. When he lost it, his 7,500 bitcoin would have been worth around $975,000.
His is arguably the most famous of several similar cases.
Campbell Simpson, the editor of Gizmodo Australia, lost 1,400 bitcoin in very similar circumstances.
The Central Bank of Russia has warned investors of risks surrounding cryptocurrencies in a report released on Tuesday.
According to state-owned news agency , the latest ‘Financial Stability Report’ from Russia’s central bank has called on investors to be wary of a cryptocurrency market ‘bubble’ that could lead to losses.
An excerpt from the report, according to read:
"A ‘bubble’ on the cryptocurrencies market may result in substantial losses for consumers. Also, there are risks that cryptocurrencies are used for money laundering and financial terrorism."
The report also outlined a coordinated approach between ‘national and supranational regulators [for the] regulation of the cryptocurrencies market and restricting the potential of high-risk investments and transactions.”
The warning, via the report, follows from the central bank in September centered on initial coin offerings (ICOs) and cryptocurrencies. Russia’s central bank first issued a warning on cryptocurrencies in early 2014, setting the precedent for a hostile stance that, until recently, had authorities pressing for laws that would criminalize and even imprison bitcoin adopters.
-Central banks around the world, including China, Japan and Sweden, are developing their own cryptocurrencies.
-Peter Smith of Blockchain says we are 24 months away from a major government issuing a sovereign digital currency.
-A Federal Reserve official said this week that the U.S. central bank is thinking about its own digital currency, but it is years away.
In the light of the rising popularity of cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, central banks around the world are busy experimenting with their own versions of cryptocurrency, or digital currency.
China's central bank announced in January that it has completed a successful trial run of transacting digital currencies among banks. Then in September, Japan, Sweden and Estonia all announced similar digital currency projects: J-coin for Japan, E-krona for Sweden and Estcoin for Estonia. The roster doesn't stop there — the UK, Uruguay and Kazakhstan have all expressed similar ambitions.
On Wednesday, William Dudley, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, said the Fed is exploring the idea of offering its own digital currency, according to published reports on comments the Fed president made at a conference. However, Dudley said it would be "very premature" to estimate when the Fed would come up with its own version of bitcoin.
How soon will we see a government-backed digital currency up and running? This past summer Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain (the leading digital wallet), predicted that "we are 24 months from a major government issuing a sovereign digital currency."
This global phenomenon is so new that no one has yet to solidify a term to address it. Some call it central bank–issued cryptocurrency or government-backed cryptocurrency. Some refuse to call it cryptocurrency, naming it digital fiat or sovereign digital currency.
"To me the idea of cryptocurrency is free of control from any person and institution. There's nothing cryptocurrency about these [government-backed projects]," said Jacob Eliosoff, investment manager of Trevi Digital Assets Fund.
He added: "You have one institution that controls it, and they can change the rules when they want; they can prevent certain transactions from happening if they don't trust the party involved. It's not that that's bad, but that's not a cryptocurrency. That's just a currency that happens to run on a computer. "
Driving this global trend is a confluence of factors.
Governments are now responding to the rise of cryptocurrencies. It is a global market composed of a number of virtual currencies — i.e. bitcoin, ethereum, Zcash, dash T— that has reached $335 billion in size, according to CoinMarketCap. And it is expected to reach $2 trillion in 2018, predicts Mike Novogratz, a billionaire trader and long-time cryptocurrency bull who forecast a bitcoin price increase by the end of next year to as high as $40,000.
This year alone, Bitcoin's value has soared about 900 percent hitting more than $11,0O0 Wednesday. At the same time, ethereum's value rose a whopping 5,900 percent to $519.85 on Wednesday.
Investors in cryptocurrencies have been riding a tremendous bull run, outpacing stock market returns by a huge margin so far this year. The S&P 500 is on track for a 20 percent annual return, but meager when compared to such cryptocurrencies as bitcoin.
The government of Bermuda has launched a blockchain task force to foster cryptocurrency commerce in the British overseas territory.
Announced by by the island's premier, David Burt, and national security minister, Wayne Caines, during a press conference on Wednesday, the new working group has been set up to advance Bermuda's regulatory environment for tokens, "tokenised securities," cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
The task force comprises two groups – the Blockchain Legal and Regulatory Working Group, and the Blockchain Business Development Working Group – which will work to assist development of the technology, a press release states.
John Narroway, chair of the Blockchain Business Development Working Group, said:
"There are significant opportunities in the sphere of cryptocurrency, but that window is getting smaller and moving faster than ever before."
Narroway continued to say that the working group is examining various opportunities in the cryptocurrency ecosystem and "zeroing in" on the "key" areas for further action.
Additionally, the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) has with the government to expand the initiative.
According to Ross Webber, CEO of the BDA, the move aims to bring new business to the island, help boost GDP and open up more job opportunities.
Premier Burt further revealed plans to launch a regulatory framework for distributed ledger technologies (DLT) that would launch in early 2018. He said that Bermuda "is considering a complementary regulatory framework covering the promotion and sale of utility tokens, aligned with the DLT framework."
Colombo: The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Trinidad & Tobago has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Financial Intelligence Unit of Sri Lanka.
The agreement was signed by the Trinidad and Tobago Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Faris Al-Rawi on Friday at a counter-terrorism conference in Argentina, the Trinidad & Tobago Guardian reported.
The agreement allows Trinidad & Tobago's FIU to exchange information securely and enhance networking and co-operation with foreign FIUs in the fight against money launderers, financiers of terrorism and other criminal organizations.
The FIUTT also signed an agreement with Cuba to exchange information to track financiers of terrorism.
AMMAN, Jordan - Containing and disrupting transnational terrorist groups active in the Middle East and Southeast Asia was the focus of an INTERPOL working meeting in Jordan.
Funded by the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World, and bringing together more than 50 officers from 13 countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Southeast Asia, the three-day (18 – 20 September) meeting served to boost counter-terrorism intelligence sharing in the targeted regions.
Co-hosted by INTERPOL and the Royal Jordan Police, this was the first INTERPOL meeting of its kind to bring together counter-terrorism experts from such diverse regions.
“Jordan stands strong with INTERPOL in the global battle against terrorism and transnational crime. We are grateful to INTERPOL for its continued support in helping member countries tackle transnational crime, consistently providing us with the capabilities we need to tackle terrorism,” said Major General Dawoud Hakouz of the Royal Jordan Police.
The meeting was part of INTERPOL’s global counter-terrorism strategy aimed at helping member countries contain and disrupt transnational terrorist activities through the identification of members of terrorist networks and by tackling the main factors enabling their activities: travel and mobility, online presence, weapons and materials, and finances.
“With INTERPOL increasingly perceived by national and regional partners as a key international partner in the fight against terrorism, our new approach to counter-terrorism capacity building is to connect different regions who face common terrorism threats even though they are geographically far apart,” said Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Counter-Terrorism unit, Karel Pelán.
“The Royal Jordan Police enjoys a strong, long-standing with law enforcement around the world. By organizing key strategic meetings like this we are providing counter-terrorism experts from different countries and regions with an exclusive, secure venue to share their security challenges,” said Colonel Jehad Qudah, Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Jordan.
Countries participating in the meeting were Australia, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Jordan, Lebanon, Malaysia, Morocco, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
Australia is moving to introduce a new bill that would extend the country's anti-money laundering (AML) rules to cover domestic cryptocurrency exchanges.
In a statement this morning, the Ministry of Justice announced that the legislation would seek to bring exchanges within the jurisdiction of the Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), the country's chief financial intelligence office.
The effort dates back to mid-2016, when the government released a broad-ranging statement on financial technologies.
As the government explained today:
"The bill will ... close a regulatory gap by bringing digital currency exchange providers under the remit of AUSTRAC; strengthen AUSTRAC's investigation and enforcement powers; increase police and customs officers' search and seizure powers at the border; and provide regulatory relief to industry through the deregulation of low-risk industry sectors."
Australian lawmakers reaffirmed their intention to develop a new law of this nature last year. At the time, the Attorney-General's Department's indicated its support for such a move, calling for existing statutes to receive a legislative update.
It remains to be seen whether the measure – for which a release date has not been revealed – will face opposition once lawmakers begin debating it. As reported by CoinDesk, at least a few legislators in Australia want to see bitcoin named an official currency, indicating that at least some may push back against the AML effort.
The move comes months after Australia ended a much-maligned "double tax" on bitcoin purchases, a policy shift that was long sought by members of the country's cryptocurrency community.
in place earlier this month forbidding the funding of initial coin offerings (ICOs). The Central Bank of China said at the time that ICOs have “disrupted the economic and financial order.”
jointly said the ICO exists as an unauthorized fundraising effort which may, in fact, be tied up in such scams. The roster of government entities issuing the warning statement included the People’s Bank of China and the China Banking Regulatory Commission, among others.
KIEV - Ukraine's justice ministry carried out trial auctions using blockchain technology for the first time on Wednesday, part of an effort to improve transparency in government transactions.
The project is part of a broader drive by the Ukrainian authorities to modernize state institutions and eliminate corruption, in exchange for a $40 billion bailout from the International Monetary fund and other donors.
In April, global technology firm the Bitfury Group announced it was working with Ukraine to put a wide range of government data on a blockchain platform - a ledger of transactions that permanently records and tracks assets or transactions.
The justice ministry has started using the technology for auctioning seized assets and plans to transfer state property and land registries to the platform by the end of the year, deputy minister Serhiy Petukhov said.
"We want to make the system of selling seized assets more transparent and secure so that the information there is accessible to everyone, so that there aren't concerns about possible manipulation," he said at a briefing.
Ukraine has won praise for reform efforts, such as a wealth- declaration tool for officials and an online procurement system.
Islamabad: Acting Chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) Imtiaz Tajwar has said that the capacity building course of NAB workforce in line with the international best practices which will help improve the performance of NAB investigation Officers/Prosecutors.
Addressing a concluding training ceremony on Anti Money Laundering and Public Corruption for NAB Investigation officers and Prosecutors in Collaboration with US Department of Justice / International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), here Friday, he said that recently US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement has handed over a Video Spectral Comparator 8000, state-of-the-art forensics document analyzer to NAB that would assist the bureau with identifying fraudulent documents, including travel and identity documents, banknotes, cheques, and official letters.
According to a press release issued here, he said that NAB is the apex Anti-Corruption Agency of the country with the mandate to eradicate corruption in Pakistan. NAB is also the focal agency under United Nations Convention on Anti-Corruption (UNCAC). He said that NAB is the only Anti-Corruption Agency which has prescribed timeline for efficient, effective and expeditious disposal of cases putting a maximum time limit of 10 months.
He said that NAB has also introduced a new System of Combine Investigation Team (CIT) in order to benefit from the experience and collective wisdom of senior supervisory officers. This system is not only lending quality to the work but also ensuring that no single individual can influence the proceedings.
He said that concept of CIT has proved very successful in order to improve quality of inquiry and investigations and benefit from the experience and collective wisdom of senior officers.
He said that NAB always accords high priority to the capacity building of its Investigation Officers and Prosecutors in line with International standards, best practices and lesson learnt. In addition to the NAB's in house training programs, collaboration in capacity building with National International Agencies are always welcomed.
During the ceremony, INL-P Director Gregory K. Schiffer stated that Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs works in more than 90 countries to help countries combat crime and corruption, counter drug-related crime, improve police institutions, and promote laws and court systems that are fair and accountable.
He appreciated NAB's efforts in eradication of corruption. He said that capacity building of NAB's investigation officers/Prosecutors and provision of new forensics equipment to NAB will help in investigation of corruption cases, not only for NAB, but for other law enforcement agencies as well.
The Acting Chairman NAB thanked International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs for its partnership and support in helping NAB to achieve its mission of eliminating corruption in Pakistan, both through training and equipment support.
He appreciated the efforts of US Department of Justice/ICITAP, US Embassy, Islamabad and Training and Research Division NAB for their collaborative efforts in capacity building of NAB workforce in line with the international best practices.
BEIJING, (Xinhua) - The Chinese government will coordinate supervision to fight money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion, according to a guideline made public Wednesday.
By 2020, China should be able to effectively prevent and control money laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion by improving laws and regulations and coordinating the work of different government departments, said the guideline on the website of the State Council, China's cabinet.
Since China's anti-money laundering law became effective in 2007, supervision has improved. However, the supervision mechanism is far from perfect, inter-departmental information sharing is insufficient and China's international participation in this field does not match its international status.
China will reinforce coordination of government supervision on the basis of an inter-departmental joint meeting on money laundering, and work out an overall strategy and important measures, the guideline said.
The country should also improve the legislation related to money laundering and terrorist financing crime, and strengthen risk monitoring and supervision on non-financial entities, including real estate agencies and precious metal and jewelry sales companies.
China should expand information sources for monitoring money laundering activities, and improve the supervision of abnormal cross-border capital flow to prevent and crack down on cross-border financial crimes, according to the document.
On 6 and 7 September 2017, over 550 police chiefs and senior law enforcement representatives from all over the world gathered at Europol’s headquarters for the 2017 European Police Chiefs Convention (EPCC).
Co-hosted by Europol and the Estonian Police in the context of the Estonian Presidency of the Council of the EU, this year’s convention was the largest ever gathering of police chiefs and senior representatives from law enforcement authorities since the first EPCC organised by Europol in 2011. The event saw the participation of high-level representatives from the EU Member States, as well as 23 non-EU countries. Representatives from six EU organisations (European Commission, Council of the European Union, FRONTEX, CEPOL, EU IPO and EUNAVFOR MED), eight international institutions (INTERPOL, Euromed Police, World Customs Organization (WCO), UNHCR, International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) , the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCCPOL) and the Global Initiative against Transnational Organized Crime), alongside experts from the private sector and academia, also attended the event.
Participants discussed main issues concerning the security of the EU and beyond, including: the spread of terrorist and violent extremist propaganda online and law enforcement’s response; the use of financial intelligence as a critical tool for successful counter-terrorism and organised crime investigations; crime in the age of technology; cybercrime; and migrant smuggling.
Rob Wainwright, Europol’s Executive Director said: ‘’The complexity of the threats we face, particularly in this age of technology, requires strong cross-border law enforcement cooperation. Only by working together across traditional boundaries, and by enhancing the exchange of information and expertise, can we efficiently combat transnational criminal groups and terrorists. The 2017 EPCC, with an incredibly strong representation from the international law enforcement community, provides a unique platform for the EU Member States and partner countries to strengthen our cooperation and to tackle together the biggest challenges facing law enforcement today.’’
Alongside the European Police Chiefs Convention, three major meetings were held at Europol: a high-level meeting of the European Police Chiefs and Heads of Counter Terrorism Services (EPCC CT) to discuss joint measures to counter terrorism and terrorist propaganda; EUROMED meeting; and the European Customs DG meeting.
During this year’s EPCC, a total of 146 bilateral and multilateral meetings took place in the margins of the event, which involved more than 1400 participants. This allowed chiefs of police and high-level representatives to share strategies on operational matters and further strengthen their cooperation.
Bankers formed an association of anti-money laundering compliance officers with an aim to work closely and effectively with the Bangladesh Financial Intelligence Unit and other regulatory authorities, the association said in a statement yesterday.
The association said the move would help them in combating money laundering and terrorist financing and in efforts to extend cooperation to relevant agencies.
The chief anti-money laundering compliance officers (CAMLCO) and their deputies will be representing their respective banks in the association.
The association elected Faruq Mainuddin, chief anti-money laundering compliance officer of City Bank, as its chairman and Swapan Kumar Biswas, Mutual Trust Bank's CAMLCO, as the general secretary.
The association also elected vice chairmen from Janata Bank and Standard Chartered Bank, treasurer from Islami Bank Bangladesh and joint secretaries from Dhaka Bank and Bank Asia.
Other members of the executive committee have been taken from National Bank, Sonali Bank, United Commercial Bank, Eastern Bank, Dutch-Bangla Bank, One Bank, Exim Bank and NRB Bank.
The Swedish Parliament has passed a new law concerning registration of beneficial owners (Sw. Lag (2017:631) om registrering av verkliga huvudmän), an implementation of the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, which entered into force on 1 August 2017. The purpose of the law is to increase the transparency regarding the ownership and the control of companies, associations and other legal entities in order to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. The law prescribes, in essence, that legal entities are obligated to notify the Swedish Companies Registration Office who their beneficial owners are.
The obligation to register beneficial ownership comprises Swedish legal entities, foreign legal entities operating in Sweden and natural persons with domicile in Sweden who administer trusts or similar legal constructions. Exempted from the obligation are the government, county councils and municipalities as well as legal entities over which these have a significant control, limited companies with voting shares admitted to trading on a regulated market within the EEA or a equivalent market outside the EEA, as well as estates of deceased and bankrupt persons.
A beneficial owner is a natural person who, alone or together with someone else, ultimately owns or controls a legal entity, or a natural person who benefits from someone who is acting on his or her behalf.
In certain cases, a natural person is assumed under the law to exercise ultimate control of a legal entity. Examples are when the person due to his or her shareholding or membership controls more than 25 per cent of the total number of votes in the legal entity, when the person has the right to appoint or resign more than half of the legal entity’s board members or corresponding management or when a person is able to exercise equivalent control through agreements with the owners, members or the legal entity, or through the provisions in the articles of association, through shareholder agreements or similar documents.
The new and most significant obligations for legal entities are that they must obtain reliable information on who their beneficial owners are and the nature and extent of the beneficial owner’s interest in the legal entity which must be submitted to the Swedish Companies Registration Office.
If the information on beneficial ownership is missing or if reliable information cannot be obtained, the legal entity must nonetheless provide information about the lack of information. The legal entity must, at the request of an authority, provide without delay information about its beneficial owners and documentation on the investigation made to assess the beneficial ownership. The legal entity must also notify the Companies Registration Office without delay of any change in beneficial ownership.
If the notification is incomplete, not submitted or contains incorrect information, the Swedish Companies Registration Office may impose a conditional fine on the legal entity, the managing director, a board member or other equivalent executives to submit a notification. The same applies to a refusal of disclosure to an authority. If the injunction is not complied with, the Swedish Companies Registration Office may impose the fine. Thereafter, the Swedish Companies Registration Office may impose a new increased conditional fine.
MANAGUA, Nicaragua - INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock has said that the Organization’s member countries need an international response to regional and international crime threats.
Speaking in Managua at the opening of the 23rd Commission of Police Chiefs and Directors of Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Colombia (CJDPCAMCC), Secretary General Stock said INTERPOL’s proven international cooperation network underpins regional efforts against transnational crime.
“There is already an established cooperation network against transnational crime. Law enforcement needs to avoid duplicating its efforts and creating competing parallel systems when INTERPOL’s global system already serves regional needs,” said Secretary General Stock.
With Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama members of the regional Commission of Police Chiefs and Directors, the INTERPOL Chief said it was also important to learn first-hand about the operational needs of law enforcement in the region, and to adapt to these.
“In the face of an evolving crime landscape, INTERPOL is constantly working to adapt its global policing capabilities and operational activities to respond to the needs of police at the frontlines,” added Secretary General Stock.
Chaired by the Director General of the National Police of Nicaragua, Aminta Granera Sacasa, the regional Commission of Police Chiefs and Directors committed to strengthen the role of their National Central Bureaus within their respective police organizations in order to better coordinate information exchange and contribute to an effective global response.
Amongst INTERPOL’s operational activities in the region, Project CRIMJUST aims to strengthen cooperation between law enforcement and judicial agencies against transnational crime networks involved in the cocaine route from Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa.
INTERPOL has also coordinated a series of intensive intelligence-led Amazonas operations to investigate and prosecute criminals, and identify and dismantle international criminal networks, involved in the illegal trade of timber from South America.
In addition, INTERPOL’s Project Fortaleza provides Latin American and Caribbean law enforcement with the skills, intelligence and services they need to tackle organized crime in their region. It ensures an all-inclusive approach by addressing regional crime through a global lens across a broad spectrum of crime areas.
In this respect, ensuring real-time data is in the hands of frontline officers and increased cooperation across various national, regional and global agencies against terrorism, organized crime and cybercrime will be key topics during the 86th INTERPOL General Assembly later this month (26 – 29 September) in Beijing, China.
INTERPOL’s global policing capabilities include its I-24/7 secure police communications network, and a range of global databases including for stolen and lost travel documents, fingerprints, DNA, and facial recognition, for sharing information globally to better combat transnational organized crime and terrorism.
On the sidelines of the Managua meeting, Secretary General Stock said INTERPOL’s global policing community stood in solidarity with countries in the Caribbean and beyond following the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Irma, and with Mexico in the wake of the strongest earthquake to hit the country in a century.
Parliament recently passed a new law on the registration of beneficial owners of Austrian legal entities. After obtaining the necessary approval of the Austrian federal states, the law is expected to be published in the Federal Law Gazette in September 2017 and will enter into force on January 15 2018. As part of tranposing the Fourth Anti-money Laundering Directive into national law, the law contains:
-the definition of a 'beneficial owner' for the entire Austrian anti-money laundering regime; and
-provisions on the establishment and operation of the Beneficial Ownership Register.
In disclosing the relevant information on beneficial owners, the register aims to detect and prevent money laundering, especially with regard to complex corporate structures, holding companies or private foundations and trusts.
Legal entities subject to the law are partnerships (general and limited partnerships), corporations (limited liability companies, stock companies) and other legal entities (associations, private foundations, cooperative societies) with their corporate seat in Austria, as well as trusts and trust-like agreements if they are managed in Austria. The Beneficial Ownership Register will contain approximately 350,000 legal entities.
In order to be registered, the respective legal entity must identify its beneficial owners and take reasonable actions to verify their identity. As a rule, all natural persons who own or control a legal entity are considered its beneficial owners and must be registered in the Beneficial Ownership Register. With regard to companies, the law provides for three different approaches:
-a natural person directly holds more than 25% of the shares in an Austrian company;
-more than 25% of the shares in an Austrian company are held by another legal entity, which is directly or indirectly controlled by a natural person; control in this respect is indicated by directly or indirectly holding more than 50% of shares; or
-a natural person directly or indirectly holds more than 25% of the voting rights of the Austrian company.
As these three approaches coexist, the identification of a single beneficial owner according to one of them might not be sufficient. All beneficial owners must be identified, verified and registered in the Beneficial Ownership Register. If a beneficial owner cannot be determined in this way, the natural persons at the top management level are considered as beneficial owners in a subsidiary way.
The law contains clear determinations with respect to private foundations and trusts – as the three approaches are hardly applicable to such entities. For private foundations, these are the beneficiaries, founder, foundation council and other persons controlling the private foundation. For trusts, these are the trustee, settler/trustor, protector, beneficiaries and other persons controlling the trust's assets.
From January 15 2018 legal entities subject to the law must submit a notification on their beneficial owner(s) to the Beneficial Ownership Register by June 1 2018 at the latest. The notification must contain the:
-date and place of birth;
-nature and extent of the beneficial ownership (eg, beneficial owner as a direct shareholder or beneficial owner as a managing director).
If an identified beneficial owner does not reside in Austria, the notification must also include the beneficial owner's identification number and the type of identification. In addition, a copy of the identification must be submitted electronically.
If the relevant information can be clearly derived from an existing register (eg. the Companies Register, the Register of Associations), this data is adopted and the obligation to submit a notification can be omitted. For example, this is the case when all partners of a partnership or all shareholders of a limited liability company are natural persons.
The information on the beneficial owners is submitted to the Beneficial Ownership Register electronically via the Unternehmensserviceportal. Legal professionals are allowed to submit notifications on behalf of their clients. Any changes to the information already submitted have to be disclosed within four weeks of learning of them at the latest.
The information in the register is not publicly available and access is clearly limited. Generally, all legal entities have access only to their own data in the register. Persons obliged to comply with the requirements under the Fourth Anti-money Laundering Directive (eg, credit institutions, real estate and insurance agents) have access to the extent necessary to perform their due diligence obligations. To allow proper consultation of their clients, attorneys, notaries, auditors, tax consultants and accountants may also be granted access to the register. Other persons may be granted access only if a legitimate interest is credibly shown. In addition to these private persons, the register is fully available to tax authorities, financial crime authorities, criminal prosecution authorities and the Federal Financial Court.
Access to the Beneficial Ownership Register will be available as of May 1 2018 via the Unternehmensserviceportal.
If no adoption from other registers is possible, the legal entity must submit a notification on its beneficial owners by June 1 2018 at the latest. If no information is submitted, the legal entity is automatically put on a dunning list and may be repeatedly fined up to €5,000. If the notification obligation is breached with intent, a fine of up to €200,000 may be imposed. If it is breached with gross negligence, a fine of up to €100,000 may be imposed.
Turks and Caicos Islands - The Government has approved funds to train frontline enforcement personnel in an effort to fortify the Turks and Caicos Islands against money laundering risks and combat terrorist financing.
According to a post Cabinet statement issued on Wednesday, August 3, Cabinet approved recommendations of the TCI Anti-Money Laundering Committee for the expenditure of $24,910.
The money will be spent on Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Standards Training and Pre-Assessment Training.
These training sessions will target members of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) the police, customs, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and those who are on the ground dealing with these issues.
These cash will be drawn from the National Forfeiture Fund.
Cabinet also received update from the Attorney General on the completion of the anti-money laundering and prevention of terrorism financing National Risk Assessment which will be presented for final approval at its next meeting.
An expanded summary of the TCI’s Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment (National Risk Assessment) Report is expected to be published soon.
The country’s first National Risk Assessment was held on June 26, where members of the public and private sector met to comb through the TCI’s challenges with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing.
This meeting saw about 50 stakeholders and representatives from both the public and private sector convening for the two-day workshop.
According to FATF, corruption, money laundering and its associated economic and financial crimes tend to impact and undermine good governance and rule of law, which are core values of regional constitutions.
A risk assessment allows countries to identify, assess and understand its money laundering and terrorist financing risks, the force said.
Once these risks are properly understood, countries can apply measures that correspond to the level of risk.
The workshop was aimed at putting together comprehensive action plans to decrease the levels of risks, and strengthen controls and supervisory oversight in each sector while submitting ideas to impact legislative changes in this regard.
Speaking at the opening of the workshop, managing director of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), Nigel Streete, underscored the importance of implementing money-laundering legislation in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
He said: "It’s especially important for a small jurisdiction like ours where you have limited resources.
"What it allows you to do is an internal assessment and that assessment allows you to further identify and deploy resources.”
Attorney General Rhondalee Braithwaite Knowles OBE, chair of the national Anti-Money Laundering Committee, said that the workshop was designed to ensure a buy-in of senior officials from both sectors.
She explained: "This is a major initiative here in the Turks and Caicos Islands which will enable us to develop an effective framework to prevent money laundering and combat terrorist financing.”
KARACHI: The BRICS countries, following the summit in Xiamen, have committed to intensifying their cooperation against terror financing and money laundering, within the framework established by the United Nations, specifically the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“We call for swift and effective implementation of relevant UNSC Resolutions and the FATF International Standards worldwide. We seek to intensify our cooperation in FATF and FATF-style regional bodies (FSRBs). We recall the responsibility of all states to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories.”
The “relevant UNSC resolutions” referred to in the statement includes UNSC 1267, which lists all those groups, entities and individuals that have been designated as terrorists by the United Nations Security Council. A large number of groups and individuals based in Pakistan, as well as the aliases used by them, are listed in that resolution.
The statement makes repeated mention of terror financing as an area of concern where the signatory countries will cooperate in the future. It calls for “blocking sources of financing terrorism” as well as to “tackle all sources, techniques and channels of terrorist financing.”
PARIS /TASS/. France plans to hold an international conference on the fight against terrorist financing, French President Emmanuel Macron said at an annual meeting of French ambassadors in Paris on Tuesday.
The French president emphasized that countering terrorist financing should be a key direction in the fight against this global phenomenon.
"If we want to achieve results in combating terrorism and its financing, we need to maintain ties with everybody and have a clear timetable and clearly defined priorities," he said.
"That is why France will hold an international conference on combating terrorist financing at the beginning of next year," the French president said.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka - INTERPOL has launched a two-year project to support counter-terrorism activities across South and Southeast Asia.
INTERPOL’s Project Scorpius on countering terrorism and related transnational crimes across the two regions will address current and emerging terrorism-related challenges for law enforcement, and provide investigative and analytical training to law enforcement with the aim of preventing and disrupting terrorism and related crimes.
More than 40 senior law enforcement officers from counter-terrorism and related crime units, prosecutors and police institutions in seven countries gathered in Sri Lanka for a three-day (8 – 10 August) ‘decision makers’ workshop marking the launch of the INTERPOL project.
Co-hosted with Sri Lanka Police andsupported by the Canadian government, the meeting provided an opportunity to for the participants to discuss the strategies underpinning the project and lay the groundwork for developing training programmes to address the skills gaps in the regions.
Addressing the delegates and more than 200 Sri Lankan police officers during the opening ceremony, the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ranil Wickremesinghe highlighted the new challenges that police forces face as globalization and technological advancements have changed the nature of the threat landscape, where no country or region is immune from terrorism or transnational crime.
The Prime Minister emphasized the role of INTERPOL in strengthening national police in combating this threat. "With the support of INTERPOL, we should be able to increase the efficiency of our police for maintaining law and order and enhancing inter-regional collaboration,” he said.
“The nexus between transnational crime and global terrorism has forced law enforcement and other security authorities to view the two issues through the same lens and begin collaborating in an unprecedented manner with other enforcement agencies across all countries worldwide,” said Jennifer Hart, Deputy High Commissioner of Canada.
Harold O’Connell, INTERPOL Director of Capacity Building and Training, encouraged the participating countries to share information on their ‘strengths and unique set of circumstances’ to help INTERPOL adapt its capacity building activities to meet the specific needs and challenges of the regions.
The opening ceremony was also attended by the Sri Lankan Minister of Law and Order, Sagala Ratnayake; Pujith Jayasundara, Inspector General of Police; and Hernan Longo, Regional Counter-Terrorism Programme Coordinator with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.
Countries represented at the workshop were Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines and Sri Lanka.
China is cracking down on money laundering, as it aims to ensure compliance with international standards. Recent measures greatly increase the level of reporting on overseas transactions by Chinese bank customers in order to collect data for analysis.
Starting August 21 and according to rules originally announced in June, banks are now required to report overseas spending via domestic Chinese bank accounts of over 1,000 RMB (about $150 USD).
Domestic bank card withdrawals over that amount are also to be monitored. Unionpay card users are permitted to withdraw up to 10,000 RMB (about $1,500 USD) per day, per card. The reporting measures do not change withdrawal and transaction limits, but may flag transactions that are deemed suspicious.
The reason for the reporting is to collect information on these transactions for later analysis, in order to separate ordinary transactions from unusual transactions. Officials are particularly interested in tracking repeated transactions over this amount, which may indicate the presence of money laundering. This is related to the crackdown on capital flight, as the circumvention of capital controls may also be flagged for money laundering investigation in China.
Previous reporting thresholds were higher. The Number 3 Decree, starting July 1, required any cross-border transfers over 200,000 RMB (about $30,000 USD) be reported. And banks were to report any domestic cash deposits, withdrawals or transfers of 50,000 RMB (about $7,500) or more to the Anti-Money Laundering Monitoring and Analysis Center.
The Number 3 Decree also required banks to enhance their transaction monitoring effectiveness and to file a suspicious transaction report when a transaction is suspected of being related to money laundering or terrorism.
DELHI: Cracking down on misuse of stock market for money
laundering, regulator Sebi said it has stepped up "focused
inspection" of suspected brokers and other entities leading to action
against hundreds of them.
The capital markets watchdog has also enhanced its cooperation with other regulators and agencies in India as well as abroad for investigations.
Giving details of the trend in investigation cases in its latest annual report, Sebi said there was a significant increase in the number of cases taken up during 2016-17 mainly due to the references received from the Department of Income Tax in the matter of long term capital gain/short term capital loss in various scrips.
In 2016-17, 245 new cases were taken up for investigation and 155 cases were completed, compared to 133 new cases taken up and 123 cases completed in 2015-16.
Sebi said it is constantly striving to upgrade its investigative skills by making use of IT and other latest investigative tools.
Regarding the surveillance measures taken during last year, Sebi said it regularly conducts meetings with stock exchanges and depositories to keep track of market movements and surveillance activities.
Subsequently, action has been taken in the matter of dealing in shares of companies with poor fundamentals, as also "in cases of misuse of the stock exchange trading platform for tax evasion purposes, focused inspection of suspicious brokers and depository participants undertaken".
To deal with increasing instances of bulk fraudulent SMSes to investors at large, action was taken in a few cases to send a message to the market, while the depository alert system has been strengthened.
In one case, Sebi said, a telemarketer circulated bulk SMSes containing false news pertaining to a listed company on behalf of its alleged client. The telemarketer did not do due diligence of its alleged client and accepted cash for rendering services, thus "engaging in deceitful activity".
The exchanges also sought explanation from listed companies in hundreds of cases of rumour-mongering.
Inspections were also conducted of books of account, records and other documents pertaining to various market intermediaries such as venture capital funds, portfolio managers, mutual funds and investment advisors including to check compliance with respect to anti-money laundering (AML), combating of financing terrorism (CFT) and KYC norms.
Sebi said money laundering is globally recognised as one of the largest threats posed to the financial system of a country, while terrorist financing is another such emerging threat with grave consequences for both the political and economic standing of a jurisdiction.
"As in the past, during 2016-17 too Sebi continued focused efforts on strengthening the regulatory framework and minimising the risks emanating from money laundering and terrorist financing in the securities market," Sebi said.
It added that specific theme-based inspections of intermediaries focusing on compliance with KYC norms (including client due diligence) and AML/CFT guidelines were carried out.
During 2016-17, with respect to stock brokers, Sebi said it carried out over special purpose inspections to check their compliance with the AML/CFT and KYC norms of various market entities.
The compliance with AML/CFT norms was also verified by stock exchanges and depositories during their inspections of stock brokers and depository participants, while appropriate sanctions were applied for any discrepancy.
Giving details of the action taken for AML/CFT related discrepancies, Sebi said the BSE took action against 195 entities, CDSL against 236, MCX against 59 and the NSE against 27.
Besides, the BSE and the NSE issued warnings to 152 and 24 entities respectively, while monetary penalties were also imposed on several of them.
Sebi said it has consistently been in touch with global bodies and other Indian regulators to keep the regulatory framework for AML/CFT robust in the Indian securities market.
The Indian markets regulator also stepped up its engagements with the IOSCO (International Organisation of Securities Commissions) regarding information-sharing and cooperation with its peers in other countries.
During 2016-17, Sebi received 61 requests for information from overseas regulators seeking its assistance. Sebi said it executed such requests subject to the provisions of the Multilateral Memorandum of Understanding (MMoU).
Similarly, 13 such requests were made by Sebi to its regulatory counterparts in other jurisdictions.
In 2016-17, total 2,619 regulatory assistance requests were made or received by all capital market regulators under the IOSCO MMoU framework.
SINGAPORE - Obtaining digital evidence for use in investigations and prosecutions was the focus of an INTERPOL workshop in Singapore.
Bringing together some 30 law enforcement investigators, prosecutors and judicial authorities from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, the three-day (22 – 24 August) workshop aimed to assist participants in identifying and accessing electronic evidence which may be located in several jurisdictions.
Supported by a team of instructors from the US Department of Justice, topics addressed during the workshop included recognizing and recovering evidence from digital devices; the links between cybercrime and digital evidence; formal and informal avenues for requesting digital evidence; the role of mutual legal assistance treaties; challenges in obtaining investigation-related digital information across multiple jurisdictions; and INTERPOL’s assistance in obtaining cross-border digital evidence.
As digital evidence is often held by private companies such as Internet Service Providers and social media platforms, the workshop also served to connect law enforcement, judicial authorities and private industry by examining the acquisition and use of evidence obtained from these companies in criminal investigations.
The workshop was held under the umbrella of the ASEAN Cyber Capacity Development project to enhance regional and international cooperation on cyber capacity building for ASEAN countries. The two-year project is funded by the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund 2.0 and supported by the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs.
SWIFT announces today that the Central Bank of Belize has adopted its Sanctions Screening solution to combat financial crime.
The industry utility enables banks to take a proactive approach in building greater trust with the international financial community and mitigating de-risking.
Central Bank of Belize says, “The adoption of SWIFT’s Sanctions Screening further attests our commitment to prevent financial crime. Implementing the right compliance controls within an organization is not only a regulatory responsibility, but also a priority for global security.”
“We welcome Belize’s Central Bank decision to implement Sanctions Screening to further strengthen their financial crime compliance programme” says Juan Martínez, Managing Director Latin America and the Caribbean, SWIFT. “As compliance and cybersecurity challenges become increasingly sophisticated, we are committed to helping banks to ensure payments are secure and compliant as well as faster and more transparent. Through our growing financial crime compliance portfolio combined with SWIFT’s Customer Security Programme, and global payments innovation initiative, we are addressing these dimensions together in order to take correspondent banking to the next level.”
Since its launch in 2012, SWIFT’s Sanctions Screening service has been adopted by more than 650 customers in more than 140 countries, including entire banking communities. There are also 27 central banks using the service.
In a speech delivered at the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) Financial Crime Seminar on July 2017, Mr. Chua Kim Leng, Assistant Managing Director, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) talked about how banks can work smarter on the AML/CFT (anti-money laundering / countering the financing of terrorism) front.
The subject of the speech was to strengthen the financial system’s resilience to financial crimes, focusing on money laundering and terrorism financing risks or ML/TF risks. Methods of detecting and preventing the abuse of the financial system cannot remain static, as criminals are constantly finding more creative ways to perpetrate crimes.
Mr. Leng highlighted onboarding and transaction monitoring as two areas, where the financial system could benefit from better use of technology.
During the process of onboarding or adding a new client to the bank’s systems, banks are supposed to subject the new customer to KYC (Know your customer) procedures. This is a critical step to counter ML/ FT. For instance, shell companies with no apparent economic purpose are often used for such activities. This would be detectable through KYC procedures.
Mr. Leng said that a number of banks in Singapore have come together to build a joint utility for KYC processes.
He said, “Robust KYC processes are the front line of our defences, and they are by nature resource-intensive. MAS is working closely with these banks on the project and I am excited about its potential.”
This utility can be a platform for raising the benchmark for KYC processes across participating banks. It can help strengthen the adoption of best practices for screening and on-boarding.
It can also free up resources and
allow banks to focus on the more complex aspects of customer due diligence and
on-going monitoring, including monitoring and investigating unusual and
suspicious transactions. If well designed and well executed, the utility could
also potentially offer efficiencies of scale and reduce the need for customers
to provide the same information to multiple institutions.
Mr. Leng said that there is room for improvement in the area of transactions monitoring through the use of techniques such as machine learning.
Current systems usually flag out transactions based on a set of pre-defined rules, thresholds and scenarios. Though these rules are calibrated periodically, there continues to be a high rate of false positives. Extensive human effort is required to review these alerts.
Instead of adding more people for monitoring, which is not a long-term sustainable solution, using next generation surveillance systems, which utilise sophisticated techniques, such as machine learning, can help identify unusual patterns of transactions across a network of entities and across time. These systems could succeed in picking out suspicious activities that are impossible for a human to detect today. (Also, such a system would improve over time, the more data it processes, unlike the traditional systems with a set of rules.)
“Understanding how these complex
and sometimes proprietary algorithms work is a challenge. Our
responsibility, as professionals in this field, is to learn to “unpack the
black box”, before we base our decisions on them. In this regard, I am
glad that a number of financial institutions have started pilot programmes with
data analytics providers for AML/CFT purposes,” Mr. Leng said.
NDO/VNA - The APEC Network of Anti-Corruption Authorities and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET) held a workshop on intensifying cooperation in revoking corruption assets among law enforcement agencies, on August 18 in Ho Chi Minh City.
The workshop, held within the framework of the APEC 2017 third Senior Officials Meeting (SOM3), attracted the participation of many experienced speakers in the anti-corruption field, from both the public and private sectors.
The event provided a chance for the member economies to discuss and share their experience and information concerning any difficulties and challenges, as well as cooperation between law enforcement agencies in taking back the assets related to corruption cases.
Vietnam’s Deputy Inspectorate General Nguyen Van Thanh said that corruption is causing the country to lose resources, reducing the efficiency of public investment, eroding the trust of investors and weakening national competitiveness and businesses.
Therefore, the recovery of corruption assets is an important factor in assessing the success of the fight against corruption and one of the main purposes of the work, he added.
The outcomes of the workshop are expected to facilitate the ACT-NET and the APEC Anti-corruption and Transparency Working Group to carry out the directions and commitments to increasing the effectiveness of anti-corruption work in general and asset recovery in particular.
Australia - Justice Minister Michael Keenan will today introduce legislation to strengthen laws against money-laundering and terror financing while also slashing red tape costing Australia’s finance sector $36 million a year.
The shake-up represents the first tranche of reforms aimed at strengthening the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act — known as the AML/CTF regime — since the Commonwealth Bank was accused of breaching it more than 53,000 times between November 2012 and September 2015.
Mr. Keenan told The Australian yesterday that he expected “all regulated businesses” operating in Australia to “comply with our comprehensive regime”.
Under the overhaul, digital exchange currencies will be regulated for the first time while other low-risk industries such as cash-in-transit — the physical transfer of banknotes, coins and credit cards from one location to another, such as ATMs, large retailers and bank branches — will be deregulated.
As previously revealed by The Australian, the white-collar crime watchdog, the Australian Transactions and Reporting Analysis Centre (Austrac), will have its investigation and enforcement powers strengthened while police and Customs officials will be granted enhanced search and seizure powers.
The changes will mean the trade in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin will be subject to greater oversight while there will be more scrutiny placed on individuals suspected of money-laundering or financing terrorism when they leave or enter the country.
The reforms follow consultation with industry after the government tabled a statutory review of Australia’s anti-money-laundering arrangements in April last year.
The review concluded the money-laundering and terror-financing risk associated with the domestic transportation of cash from one location to another by a contractor was almost negligible, with the cash-in-transit sector already subject to comprehensive state and territory licensing.
“These reforms appropriately balance the threat of organised crime and terrorism financing to the Australian community while ensuring excessive regulation doesn’t hinder our financial sectors,” Mr Keenan said. “The threat of serious financial crime is constantly evolving, as new technologies emerge and criminals seek to nefariously exploit them.
“These measures ensure there is nowhere for criminals to hide. Stopping the movement of money to criminals and terrorists is a vital part of our national security defences and we expect regulated business in Australia to comply with our comprehensive regime.”
SINGAPORE - The inaugural meeting of Heads of INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) from the 10 ASEAN countries saw senior police leaders from across the region gather to address key transnational crime threats.
Held at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore, the conference provided a forum for exchanging information and best practices; developing strong professional relationships; and developing strategies to tackle the most pressing crimes affecting the region.
With regional cooperation and information sharing at the heart of the global security architecture, the 15 participants reaffirmed the vital role of strongly coordinated NCBs in promoting international cooperation and data exchange.
INTERPOL’s Director of Capacity Building and Training, Harold O’Connell said: “The exchange of knowledge and best practices is of mutual benefit to each ASEAN country, as well as to INTERPOL, as it allows us to identify where our support will be the most effective in day-to-day policing operations to best ensure that our global network makes a difference to officers on the frontlines.”
The 4 August meeting was organized by INTERPOL, through its Government of Canada-funded Project Sunbird, and the Singapore Police Force.
Chua Chee Wai, Deputy Assistant Commissioner of the Singapore Police Force and Head of the NCB, encouraged all NCBs in the ASEAN region to take full advantage of the support provided by INTERPOL’s global network in tackling the threats posed by transnational crimes.
“With its established infrastructure and operational support capabilities, INTERPOL is favourably positioned to support the development of unique initiatives to combat threats ranging from terrorism to cybercrime,” he said.
Following positive feedback from the participating countries, future meetings are envisioned to continue advancing regional crime-fighting efforts.
The South African Reserve Bank (Sarb) will start testing a number of regulations related to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies within the coming months. Cryptocurrency has attracted mainstream attention in 2017, which has resulted in significant growth in trade volumes and token values.
Speaking to BusinessTech at a Norton Rose Fulbright blockchain and Bitcoin event on Wednesday evening, Loerien Gamaroff, CEO of a blockchain based solutions provider, said that the company is currently in talks with the central bank and has been selected as its first sandbox (experimental) business to trial-run new regulations.
Gamaroff noted that he had been in regular contact with the Sarb for some time, and had conducted a number of workshops and seminars around cryptocurrencies and their use in the South African market. He was also called in as part of an investigation into alternative currencies in the country. “All we are doing at this point is seeing how far this relationship will go on within this sandbox,” he said.
The sandbox will only be Bitcoin-focused during this initial phase, but is focused on applying broad regulations to all cryptocurrencies,” he said.
Gamaroff noted that he was very happy with the development and possibility of formal regulations in providing legitimacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies within the local economy. “I think the regulation will move things along and make people on the street comfortable with Bitcoin. With these new regulations, these everyday people can now trust that Bitcoin is not just for hackers and criminals,” Gamaroff said.
The central bank said in February that it would carry out its own research about the technology’s feasibility in South Africa. It said that it is open to issuing a national digital currency, which would likely be based on blockchain or Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), according to a report by Moneyweb.
Blockchain technology acts as a digital distributed ledger to confirm batches of transactions for the likes of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency technologies.
Michael Jordaan, the former CEO of First National Bank (FNB), recently voiced his opinion on the recent surge in popularity of digital currencies, saying that he believes that they will compete with national currencies by as early as 2025.
The former banker, who now heads up a private investment company said that virtual currencies are likely to make central banks obsolete, and could challenge the current banking model as, essentially, transfers will be free.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently published a discussion document indicating that banks around the world should begin to seriously consider investing in cryptocurrencies and other fintech opportunities, as a means of adapting to new consumer and technological demands.
Basel, 16 August 2017.
The Basel Institute on Governance today releases its 2017 edition of the Basel Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Index, which is an annual ranking assessing 146 countries regarding money laundering/terrorism financing risks.
This is the sixth annual release of the Basel AML Index, which remains to date the only research-based risk rating of countries in this field issued by an independent non-profit institution.
Since its first release in 2012 the Index has not seen significant changes in terms of countries
occupying the top ten risk positions; yet, in the 2017 Basel AML Index we observe that the average country risk level has been deteriorating at least during the last three years.
While the global average risk scores were 5.82 in 2015 and 5.85 in 2016, the average risk score this year is equal to 6.15 (on a scale of 0=low risk to 10=high risk).
Although a majority of countries legally comply with current AML/countering terrorism financing (CTF) standards, most continue to fall (sometimes severely short) in terms of effective implementation and enforcement of these laws.
By including data from the FATF, which for the past few years has used an assessment methodology that looks not only at technical compliance but also at enforcement capacity, the Basel AML Index is increasingly able to capture this significant difference.
SINGAPORE - INTERPOL and Palo Alto Networks have signed an agreement which will see increased cooperation between the two organizations to prevent and combat cybercrime.
The accord, signed at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI) in Singapore, provides a framework for threat information exchange focusing on data related to criminal trends in cyberspace, cyberthreats and cybercrime.
In April this year, Palo Alto Networks was one of seven private sector companies which provided support to an INTERPOL-led operation targeting cybercrime across the ASEAN region, resulting in the identification of nearly 9,000 command-and-control servers and hundreds of compromised websites, including government portals.
Information provided by the private sector combined with cyber issues flagged by the participating countries enabled specialists from INTERPOL’s Cyber Fusion Centre to produce 23 Cyber Activity Reports.
“Tackling cybercrime is not something which law enforcement can do in isolation. Cooperation with the private sector is essential if we are to effectively combat this global phenomenon,” said Noboru Nakatani, Executive Director of the IGCI.
“INTERPOL’s agreement with Palo Alto Networks is an important step in our ongoing efforts to ensure law enforcement worldwide has access to the information they need to combat cyberthreats which are a significant issue for both the public and private sectors,” added Mr Nakatani.
“Cybercrime represents a significant amount of risk for businesses and organisations today. This collaboration marks a mutual commitment to information sharing, which is necessary in preventing successful cyberattacks. Together with INTERPOL, we can continue to raise awareness and educate business leaders and reduce the collective cybersecurity risk over time,” said Sean Duca, vice president and regional chief security officer for Asia-Pacific, Palo Alto Networks.
An expert from Palo Alto Networks’ Unit 42, its threat intelligence team, will be assigned to collaborate with the IGCI, helping provide a clearer understanding of the current landscape, which can equip law enforcement officers with information needed to prevent cyberattacks.
Doha, August 16 (QNA) - Qatar's National Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Committee (NAMLC) has engaged the Financial Integrity Network (FIN), based in Washington DC, as its principal strategic advisor for enhancing Qatar's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) system and ensuring that Qatar meets the heightened and evolving global standards and expectations for financial integrity.
The engagement was announced in Doha, by HE Sheikh Fahad Faisal Al-Thani, Chairman of NAMLC and Deputy Governor of the Qatar Central Bank, and by The Honorable Daniel L. Glaser, on behalf of FIN. Glaser previously served as Assistant Secretary for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes in the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence from May 2011 to January 2017, where he was responsible for formulating and coordinating AML/CFT and sanctions policies and strategies for the U.S. government. The engagement was signed during a ceremony held this evening and was attended by a number of senior leaders and officials from both sides.
Under this new partnership, FIN will collaborate closely with NAMLC and its member authorities in reviewing the implementation and effectiveness of Qatars AML/CFT legal framework and international commitments, and ensuring their alignment with global standards, including those established by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
NAMLCs engagement with FIN reinforces Qatars already strong commitment to combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Qatar's AML/CFT framework, among the leading benchmarks in the region, criminalizes all activities related to money laundering and terrorist financing.
HE Sheikh Fahad Faisal Al-Thani said: "Qatar has had a long-standing, open and productive partnership with the international community in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism, and we are delighted to partner with FIN to build on our successes to date and ensure that Qatar's AML/CFT regime continue to be world class."
He added: "We have worked closely with Daniel Glaser and the other FIN principals while in their official government capacities over the years, and we have deep respect for the expertise and guidance they provided. Their support and advice will help ensure that Qatar has the most effective and robust AML/CFT framework in the region."
HE Sheikh Fahad Faisal Al-Thani added "Qatar is strongly committed to combating illicit financing activities, and by collaborating with FIN will ensure that it has the best advice and support. The threats from money laundering and terrorist financing present significant risks and challenges to the international community, and we look forward to working with FIN to ensure that Qatar builds on its successes to date in preventing and disrupting these illegal activities."
For his part, Daniel Glaser commented: "We are very pleased to announce this new engagement with Qatar to ensure that its anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regime is comprehensive, effective, and meets ever-more demanding global expectations. This serious work is critical to safeguarding the integrity of the international financial system, enhancing global security, and fostering Qatar's growth as a financial and commercial center. This fits squarely in FIN's mission, which is dedicated to helping clients meet the challenging and critical demands of financial integrity, especially in an environment of growing complexity and risk. We are looking forward to working with Qatar to achieve these important goals."
FINs work with NAMLC will also be supported by The Honorable Juan C. Zarate, who served as the Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Combating Terrorism from 2005 to 2009, and the first ever Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes after 9/11, and Chip Poncy, who served as the inaugural Director of Strategic Policy in the U.S. Department of the Treasurys Office of Terrorist Financing and Financial Crimes from 2006 to 2013. Poncy also led the U.S. delegation to FATF from 2010 to 2013.
It is worth mentioning that the National Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Committee (NAMLC) was founded in 2002 under Law No. (28) of 2002 (as amended by Law No. (4) of 2010), with the primary function of setting up a national anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing strategy for the State of Qatar. NAMLC is comprised of 14 government ministries and authorities, which work together to ensure effective implementation of Qatars AMT/CFT framework. NAMLC is also responsible for international coordination with regional and international organizations responsible for combatting money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Financial Integrity Network is a global leader in advising governments and financial institutions in the design and implementation of strategies, policies, technology and controls to protect against the full range of illicit financing threats, including terrorist financing, money laundering, and sanctions evasion.
Qatar has already issued a number of comprehensive laws that criminalize activities related to money laundering and terror financing. (END)
The Financial Intelligence Unit of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (FIU-Sri Lanka) entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the China AML Monitoring and Analysis Centre and Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Kingdom of Bhutan at the 20th Annual Meeting of the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG), held in Colombo recently, to share financial information in facilitating investigation and prosecution of persons suspected of being involved in Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML and TF).
Dr. H. Amarathunga, Director FIU-Sri Lanka signed the MOU with Luo Yubing, Director General, China AML Monitoring and Analysis Centre and Phajo Dorjee, Deputy Governor/Head of FIU, Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan on behalf of the respective institutions.
These MOUs have been entered into, in terms of the provisions of the Financial Transactions Reporting Act, No. 6 of 2006.
China became a member of the APG in 2001 and joined the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as a fully fledged member in 2007.
The FIU-Bhutan which was formally established in October, 2010 within the Royal Monetary Authority, obtained its membership of the APG in 2011.
The FIUs across the world, adopt MOUs to co-operate with each other through the exchange of information, in order to combat ML and TF which are more often internationally connected and emanating from global criminal activities.
In view of this, greater coordination among Financial Intelligence Authorities is facilitated through MOUs which provide a legal framework adaptable to each country.
This has been introduced by the Egmont Group, the association of FIUs worldwide.
With the signing of the above two MOUs, the total number of MOUs entered into by the FIU-Sri Lanka, has increased to 35.
Monrovia - In an effort to promote the fight against corruption in the country, the Liberia Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) has concluded a three days capacity building workshop on Anti-Fraud Training.
The training which was held at the Liberia Chamber of Commerce on Capitol-Hill brought together financial examiners from several institutions in government.
The theme of the workshop is strengthening fraud prevention detection and control.
Addressing newsmen at the end of the three days training, the Chief of Party of Liberia Legal Professional Development and Anti-Corruption Program Gerald Meyerman said the program which is a five years program seeks to address the issue of corruptions both in the private and public sector.
“All Liberians are aware of the cost of corruption, and the cost and the relationship with professionals on the private sector side, and on the public sector side are very important in terms of fighting the level of corruption”.
According to the Chief of Party of Liberia Legal Professional Development and Anti-Corruption Program; the 20 million dollars program financed by USAID through the US government will last for a period of five years.
He further said that in Liberia; a large amount of the GDP is being swept by corruption, adding that the five years program will help in the fight against corruptions.
“The cost of corruption in Liberia is probably, and this is an estimation that comes from the World Bank, IMF and others, probably are between 20 to 40 percent of GDP, and so between 400 and 800 million a year is the cost of corruption to all Liberians.”
Also giving a background of the workshop, the President of ACFE- Liberia Chapter Augustine Chenoway said as certified fraud examiners, it is required that they do a 20 CPE hours (continue professional education) adding that as the basis on which the workshop was organized.
According to Chenoway, participants at the workshop have made an achievement by learning new skills and building on their knowledge, which will enable them to strengthen the fight against fraud in the country. “It is not only the government; fraud is all over the place”, the President of ACFE said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has challenged governments around the world step up the fight against money launching and terrorism financing.
Managing Director of IMF, Ms. Christine Lagarde, who made the call at a conference on money laundry and terrorism financing noted that those who engage in the Act “exploit vulnerabilities in financial systems to facilitate their crimes.”
According to her, money laundering and terrorist financing can threaten a country’s economic and financial stability while funding violent and illegal acts.
The IMF boss noted that with the level of partnership with many countries through its Measures Against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT), it has helped them intensify the fight against corruption and tax evasion.
“Large-scale tax evasion,” according to Lagarde “is also problematic, because it typically means less investment in health, education, and other public services. It also means higher economic inequality because the most vulnerable are most affected by lower social spending.”
While calling for new and effective ways of combating the financing of terrorism, the IMF boss said governments need to increasingly harness the power of financial technology in addition to ensuring that small and fragile economies have access to correspondent-banking services that connect them to the global financial system as it will help minimise money laundering and terrorism financing.
The Head of the Bretton Wood Institution acknowledged the need for greater international cooperation in order to eradicate the scourges of terrorism, corruption, tax evasion, and financial exclusion.
“Of course, this is a never-ending task because criminals tend to be highly motivated and, in many cases, highly skilled as well as ahead of the curve,” she said.
Quoting novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott, she insisted that “by standing together as one, we can cut through the tangled web of suspicious transactions and bring the deceivers to justice. This is good for financial integrity, and good for inclusive growth that benefits all.”
Indonesia and New Zealand have agreed to deepen bilateral cooperation in combating terrorism through information exchanges and preventive efforts.
The agreement was the result of the meeting between Indonesian government's anti-terrorism desk of BNPT head Suhardi Alius and New Zealand's Assistant Commissioner for International and National Security Michael Pennet.
Alius said during the meeting on Wednesday that he and his New Zealand counterpart shared the experiences and views in dealing with terrorism issue.
The two shared similar concerns on the returning of Islamic State (IS) militants to their respective countries. Those militants, popularly known as Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF), have posed new security threats to several Asian countries.
Alius and Pennet agreed on measures to jointly fight terrorism, including terrorists' families and members of radical groups.
"This approach also includes the de-radicalization programs that we have applied here," Alius said.
Senior security officials of Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines attended the sub-regional meeting on FTF and cross-border terrorism in Indonesia's North Sulawesi over the weekend.
Bangladesh is set to form a new
‘Anti-Terrorism Unit’ with modern arms, ammunition and equipment to combat
militancy in the country. The Secretary Committee on Administrative Improvement
Affairs has approved the home ministry’s proposal to form the new security
unit, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said.
“We want to root out militancy from the country and hope that the special police unit will be able to do so successfully.” Headed by an additional inspector general of police, the proposed unit will carry out anti-militancy raids instead of the existing Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime (CTTC) unit of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP). As per the plan, 581 posts would be initially created for the specialised unit.
These will include one post of deputy inspector general (DIG), two posts of additional DIG, five posts of superintendent of police (SP), 10 posts of additional SP, 12 posts of assistant police super, 75 posts of inspector, 125 posts of sub- inspector, and 140 posts of assistant sub-inspector.
Some special police units, such as police commandos, special weapons and tactics (SWAT), bomb disposal unit, and dog squad, would be put under the specialised unit.
The new unit will also have a research wing to conduct research on militancy and other heinous crimes. At present, the CTTC conducts anti-militant drives and tackles terror financing, cyber crimes and mobile banking-related crimes.
Different law-enforcing agencies have carried out anti-militancy drives in the wake of rise in militant attacks. Fifty-seven armed militants have been gunned down by the law enforcers in different operations across the country since the attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in capital’s Gulshan area on July 1 last year, which left 20 hostages — mostly foreign citizens – dead.
A total of 41 members of banned militant outfits Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) and neo-JMB were also detained during this period.
“We have so far carried out 20 big anti-militant drives in different parts of the country after the Holey Artisan attack, in which 57 militants, mostly top leaders and operatives of the neo-JMB, were killed and 41 others were captured,” Assistant Inspector General of Police Moniruzzaman said on the eve of one year of the brutal incident.
He said 11 law enforcers were killed during anti-militant drives while over 50 cases have so far been lodged relating to the killings. Moniruzzaman also noted that 13 more militants were killed in a series of anti-militant drives before the Holey Artisan attack when over 200 others were arrested.
The police official claimed that extensive crackdowns on the militants after the attack on the Gulshan restaurant have broken the networks of the armed activists.
Sigal Mandelker, confirmed in June to head the Treasury Department’s anti-terrorism and anti-money laundering efforts, now manages a portfolio notable more for continuity than radical change between administrations.
Nevertheless, Mandelker, who returns to the federal government from a Proskauer partnership, will have to chart her own course in a number of areas, including balancing U.S. and EU anti-money laundering rules and handling economic sanctions in an increasingly challenging environment.
As director of the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence-TFI-Mandelker will also have to contend with the growing complexity and breadth of terrorist financing and sanction evasion, former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff told Bloomberg BNA. He worked with Mandelker at both the Justice Department and DHS during the Bush administration.
“Part of it is because the adversaries are getting smarter-there’s more online activity, and you’re now dealing with things like bitcoin,” Chertoff, co-founder and executive chairman of business and security consulting firm Chertoff Group, said. “But also, as we increase the use of sanctions, that means there’s more targets you have to look at.”
Mandelker’s staff will have to increase its use of “machine intelligence”-artificial intelligence and data analytics, for example-in order to “multiply what they can do in terms of following the money,” Chertoff said.
An OSCE supported five-day regional training seminar for some 30 law enforcement officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan on investigating financial crimes and recovering stolen assets began on July 31 in Astana, the OSCE said.
The officials are trained by national and international experts from Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States on how to investigate money laundering crimes, collect evidence, identify tax evasion and corruption schemes, conduct cross-border investigations, protect third-party rights and submit mutual legal requests to foreign jurisdictions for the recovery of repatriated assets.
The course aims to strengthen international cooperation in the field of investigating financial crimes and to familiarize officials from the region with best international practices in tracing, freezing and recovering stolen assets from abroad.
“For Kazakhstan, it is essential to have appropriate anti-money laundering legislation as well as specialists with skills in identifying, investigating and recovering stolen assets,” said Head of the OSCE Programme Office in Astana György Szabó.
“The OSCE will further support Kazakhstan in enhancing its legal basis and building national capacity to meet the OSCE commitments in the area of good governance and comply with international standards.”
Nail Akhmetzakirov, Acting Head of the Law Enforcement Agencies Academy under the Prosecutor General’s Office of Kazakhstan, said: “The global threats to international security require the consolidation of forces and means as well as the strengthening of international co-operation and capacity building. Therefore we hope that the seminar will enhance participants’ professionalism and help them acquire the necessary skills in the fight against financial crimes, corruption and the transfer of illegally obtained assets abroad.”
The workshop is organized by the OSCE Programme Office in Astana, the Prosecutor General's Office, the Academy of Law Enforcement Entities and the United States Embassy in Kazakhstan. Participants from Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were supported by the OSCE Project Coordinator in Uzbekistan and the OSCE Programme Office in Bishkek, respectively.
The event builds on the OSCE Programme Office in Astana’s multi-year efforts to promote good governance and combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
The increasing threat posed by fraudulent payment card activities by organised crime groups has led to the creation of the Investigative Network of Law Enforcement specialists from the European Union and ASEAN countries.
This initiative, led by Europol, is supported by both ASEANAPOL and INTERPOL, with the assistance of the European Association for Secure Transactions (EAST) representing the private sector.
This network comprises law enforcement officers from EU Member States and 10 ASEAN countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
This initiative was established during the 4th Payment Card Fraud meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia.
This event, which was organised by Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) on 19 – 20 July 2017, provided the law enforcement community with a comprehensive overview of payment card fraud issues, such as compromising payment card data, ATM malware and e-Commerce fraud.
The event, which was co-organised with ASEANAPOL and INTERPOL, with the support of the Romanian National Police and the Indonesian National Police (INP) was hosted by the EU Delegation to Indonesia and Brunei Darussalam.
A specific action plan concerning further cross-regional cooperation between European and Asian law enforcement was devised, following recent successful operations between the two regions.
2 August 2017 - The United Nations Security Council today unanimously adopted a resolution aimed at preventing terrorists from acquiring weapons, particularly small arms and light weapons, the “destabilizing accumulation and misuse” of which the 15-member body said “continue to pose threats to international peace and security and cause significant loss of life.”
The Council “strongly condemned” the continued flow of weapons, military equipment, unmanned aircraft systems (UASs) and their components, and improvised explosive device (IED) components to and between the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da'esh), Al-Qaida, their affiliates, and associated groups, illegal armed groups and criminals.
UN Member States were encouraged to prevent and disrupt procurement networks for weapons, systems and components between and among such groups and entities. Member States were specifically urged to ensure the ability to take appropriate legal actions against those who are knowingly engaged in providing terrorists with weapons and to ensure proper physical security and management for stockpiles of small arms and light weapons.
It also encouraged the implementation of marking and tracing procedures of small arms and light weapons to improve traceability of such weapons which could be provided to terrorists through illicit trafficking.
UN Member States were also urged to strengthen their judicial, law enforcement and border-control capacities, and develop their capabilities to investigate arms-trafficking networks in order to address the link between transnational organized crime and terrorism.
A man suspected of running AlphaBay was found dead in a Thai prison last week; Dutch police say they have infiltrated another market called Hansa.
On Thursday the US Department of Justice and Europol jointly announced the shutdown of two major dark web marketplaces, including AlphaBay, which was until recently the largest such site.
The episode is one of the most significant law enforcement actions against the dark web to date, and the highest profile since the arrest of Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the original Silk Road. Dutch authorities announced they had also taken down Hansa, another popular dark web marketplace that grew in popularity after AlphaBay went down earlier this month. However dramatic, the actions are unlikely to significantly dent the overall online trade in narcotics, stolen data, or weapons. "The dark web is not a place to hide," US Attorney General Jeff Sessions said during a press conference on Thursday. Officials in the press conference did not give explicit details on how they identified the administrators or the location of the sites' servers.
The operation was international in scope. Sessions thanked authorities from Thailand, Germany, France, and the UK. The European Union's law enforcement agency, Europol, posted its own announcement about the takedowns.
During the press conference, the head of Europol Rob Wainwright described the action as a "groundbreaking operation."
Robert Patterson, deputy administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, also confirmed that Alexandre Cazes—who was arrested in Thailand July 5 and was found dead while jailed there—was the suspected administrator of AlphaBay.
The Dutch police force Politie led the investigation into Hansa, and gained control of the market after the arrest of two staff members in Germany. "The fall of Hansa Market is the culmination of an infiltration operation, the Dutch police in June had management control of the marketplace," a Google translation of the Politie press release reads. It adds that the authorities intercepted tens of thousands of unencrypted messages, which allowed investigators to identify delivery addresses. "Some 10,000 foreign addresses of buyers [of] Hansa Market are transferred to Europol," the release reads.
In an ironic twist, when AlphaBay closed, many users migrated to Hansa, which was already under the control of the authorities.
ALPHABAY, THE CENTRE OF THE DARK WEB
AlphaBay launched in December 2014, around a year after law enforcement seized the original Silk Road marketplace. After the administrators of Evolution, another marketplace, seemingly disappeared with millions of dollars worth of their users' bitcoins, AlphaBay quickly became the dominant dark web trading site. Nicolas Christin, a researcher from Carnegie Mellon University who has followed the dark web marketplaces closely, told Motherboard in an email on Thursday he estimated the AlphaBay was generating revenue of between $600,000 and $800,000 a day in 2017.
The site had very few rules, doing away with the libertarian-driven ideals of the drug focused Silk Road, and offered stolen credit card data, hacked databases, and weapons. AlphaBay even introduced an "autoshop" for buyers to quickly find credit cards from specific states, and had both English and Russian language forum sections, with the latter focused on hacking tools. One rule that did stick out, however, was that AlphaBay banned the sale of personal data stolen from Russians.
Several people have tried to uncover the identities of AlphaBay staff in an attempt to generate blackmail material. Some of these attempts have seemingly resulted in payments, although none of the names blackmailers have provided to Motherboard over the last few months match those in Thursday's indictment.
FROM CANADA TO THAILAND
On the morning of July 5, Canadian authorities searched properties in Montreal and Trois-Rivières, including Cazes' family residence and a warehouse. That same day, police in Thailand arrested Cazes, 26, a programmer who owned three houses and at least one Lamborghini sports car.
On July 12, Cazes died in a Bangkok prison, according to the Bangkok Post, which first reported the news. At around 7AM, prison officers discovered Cazes dead in his cell, a towel hanging from the toilet door. Cazes is believed to have hanged himself, the report continues. That same morning, he was due to meet with a lawyer about starting the extradition process to the US.
Cazes is listed as president of a software company called EBX Technologies, according to the company's website. According to Cazes' LinkedIn profile, he worked as a freelance software designer. "EBX Technologies is a business specialized in computer services such as web programming and software integration," an archived version of the company's website reads. Over the last week, EBX has not responded to requests for comment, and the company's website has remained inaccessible since going offline around July 3.
In a brief interview with Canadian media, Cazes' father described his son as someone who wouldn't hurt a fly. "Very, very bright. He skipped a year at school, a little genius," Cazes' father said, according to a translation of the interview.
According to the Justice Department press release, Cazes used the moniker alpha02. At the start of the site's launch, alpha02 would communicate with journalists and site members, although after the site gained popularity alpha02 had faded from public view. The FBI and DEA have seized Cazes' alleged stockpiles of millions of dollars worth of bitcoin, and the FBI has allegedly identified an AlphaBay staffer living in the US, the release adds.
THE DARK WEB, NOW
After AlphaBay vanished earlier this month, users started migrating to other marketplaces; something of a tradition in the lifecycle of illegal trading sites. Both AlphaBay vendors and buyers signed up to Hansa, where stolen database sellers recently opened shop, and Dream Market, a site that launched way back in 2013.
Hansa was allegedly so inundated with the influx of former AlphaBay users, that administrators temporarily closed new registrations, according to a message posted on the market earlier this month. Now, it is clear that Dutch law enforcement likely closed those registrations themselves. "Critics will say, as we shut one site, another site emerges. And they may be right, but that is the nature of criminal work: It never goes away, you have to constantly keep at it, and you've got to use every tool in your toolbox," Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said during the press conference.
Independent researcher Gwern Branwen examined dozens of markets and catalogued how long they stayed online, and what eventually led to their closure. The majority of market shut downs have not been due to law enforcement action, but scams, hacks, or other reasons instead. "These presses were pretty strong," a Hansa user wrote in a review for the substance MDMA on Thursday.
A specialist investigator from the Royal Gibraltar Police delivered an address to a multinational group of police officers learning about payment fraud at a course in Spain’s National Police Academy in Avila.
A total of 62 officers representing law enforcement agencies from 29 countries – including 22 EU Member States – were participating in the third edition of Europol’s Training Course on Payment Card Fraud Forensics and Investigations, held over four days at the end of last June 2017.
Detective Sergeant Cavallo Soane from the RGP Economic Crime Unit’s Fraud Squad was invited to address participants on the course, which focused on the forensic examination of skimming devices, payment card and ATM malware forensics, and investigative techniques to target criminal networks responsible for international payment fraud incidents.
DS Soane, in conjunction with local company IDT Financial Services, presented a case study on international cooperation between law enforcement and the benefits of police and private sector working together.
The case study delved into an investigation by Australian Police in Canberra in 2014 that revealed a fraud syndicate operating over international boundaries and which utilised legitimate financial business ventures to facilitate fraudulent activity.
DS Soane utilised the case study to illustrate the mechanisms available to investigators for international exchange of information.
DS Soane has been awarded a certificate of appreciation by the Head of the European Cybercrime Centre at Europol.
The certificate is “in recognition of [his] outstanding contribution to the success of the 3rd Europol Training Course on Payment Card Fraud Forensics and Investigation.”
South Korean lawmakers will be presenting several bills that will affect the legal status of cryptocurrencies. According to the Korea Herald, Rep. Park Yong-jin of the Democratic Party stated on July 3, 2017, that he will introduce three revisions in July that will build a set of regulatory frameworks for digital currencies. According to Park, the legislation is intended to fill “the void of a state-led protection that guarantees digital currency’s value,” and eradicate “the possibility of wreaking havoc on national economy from digital currency bubble burst.”
One bill aims to revise the Electronic Financial Transactions Act. If approved, the bill will require traders, brokers, and other businesses involved in cryptocurrency transactions to get regulatory approval from the Financial Services Commission, maintain data processing facilities, and have at least 500 million won ($436,300) in capital.
Tax laws will also be revised to allow Korean financial authorities to pursue tax evaders who do not pay income or corporate tax from digital currency transactions. According to Park and the Financial Supervisory Service, although virtual currency exchanges hold a large amount of market power in the country’s cryptocurrency space, there is no legal ground for their business.
The move for more robust regulation comes after a mishap with South Korean exchange Yapizon, when it fell victim to a massive bitcoin heist in April. In the incident, a hacker swiped four hot wallets and made off with 3831 bitcoin, which at the time totaled to about $5 million. To resolve the problem, Yapizon implemented a clever accounting scheme in which it essentially provided users with “IOUs.” At the time of the occurrence, the South Korean government authorities lacked regulation to handle such calamities. Park’s proposals look to fill this void and increase trust in one of South Korea’s emerging markets.
Cryptocurrency investments have also been on the rise in East Asian markets. To promote growth and innovation in FinTech companies operating in foreign exchange markets, the South Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance in May decided to revamp capital requirements, which will go into effect July 18.https://www.ethnews.com
government has expressed its strong commitment to combating illicit financial
flows arising from money laundering, bribery, corruption, tax evasion and other
The Commissioner-General of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), Mr. Emmanuel Kofi Nti said: "At the political level, I can say that we have the commitment of the Presidency itself.
"The President and his Vice are committed to fighting corruption and one thing that encourages me most is that I have his support and because of that people are unable to come in and corrupt me." Mr. Nti was speaking to global tax authorities at a capacity building workshop on countering treaty and transfer pricing abuse in Accra.
The event, organised by the GRA, was aimed at creating the platform for the exchange of ideas on how to find an antidote to transfer pricing abuse which contributes significantly to Illicit Financial Flow (IFFs).
The GRA, Mr. Nti explained, is collaborating with various government agencies including financial intelligence centre, Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO), and Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to fight corruption.
"There is great collaboration now and we are sharing a lot of counter corruption ideas,"he said.
The Security Council today welcomed recent positive political developments in some West African countries, but expressed concern over the threat of terrorism in the region.
“The Security Council strongly condemns all terrorist attacks carried out in the region, in particular in Northern and Central Mali and the Lake Chad Basin region, notably by Boko Haram and Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” said the Security Council President for the month of July, Liu Jieyi, in a presidential statement.
On behalf of the Council, Mr. Liu expressed particular concern over attacks on civilians – the primary victims of terrorist violence – while underscoring the importance of a holistic approach to degrade and defeat the terrorists in compliance with international law.
“The Security Council encourages Member States and multilateral partners to lend their support to the MNJTF (Multinational Joint Task Force) to ensure its full operationalization, including the provision of modalities to increase the timely and effective exchange of intelligence to further the region's collective efforts to combat Boko Haram, whenever possible and appropriate,” said the statement.
The Council underscored its commitment to work through the UN Office in West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS) to strengthen cooperation in addressing cross-border security threats and curbing the spread of terrorism.
“The Security Council notes the collaboration undertaken between UNOWAS and the Peacebuilding Commission and encourages continued close and effective cooperation in support of sustainable peace in the region,” the statement stressed.
In tandem, it referenced the dire humanitarian situation caused by the terrorists' activities in the Lake Chad Basin region and called the international community to “immediately support the provision of urgent humanitarian assistance for the people most affected by the crisis in Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria,” including by fulfilling the UN appeal for the Lake Chad Basin region.
The Council also urged regional governments to facilitate humanitarian access and to work with the UN in developing aid delivery options.
Turning to Côte d'Ivoire, the Council welcomed the progress made on peace, stability and economic prosperity following the 30 June closure of the UN Operation in the country (UNOCI) and emphasized the importance of UNOWAS' engagement during the transition period.
Concerned about piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, as well as the trafficking of humans, drugs and other illicit goods, the Council stressed the need to strengthen the fight against illicit activities in the sub-region.
The statement welcomed West African leadership in spearheading initiatives addressing terrorism challenges and encouraged collaboration between Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations, the UN and other stakeholders “to enhance social cohesion and to address challenges to good governance.”
It also welcomed positive political developments in several West African countries, particularly the free and transparent legislative elections on 6 April in the Gambia – commending the diplomatic efforts by ECOWAS Heads of State that resulted in the peaceful transition of power to the democratically elected President Adama Barrow.
The Council encouraged “bilateral and multilateral partners to provide appropriate support to the efforts of the Government of the Gambia to restore the rule of law, reconciliation, and development for the citizens of the Gambia.”
LYON, France - An agreement between INTERPOL and the United Nations’ Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) will see enhanced cooperation between the two bodies in preventing and countering terrorism.
Signed by INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock and CTED Executive Director Jean-Paul Laborde, the accord is aimed at leveraging expertise and optimising resources to avoid duplication of effort in supporting member countries.
In addition to supporting the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions on counter-terrorism, especially in law enforcement cooperation and border security, the two organizations will also develop a strategic joint action plan.
The agreement formalises the ongoing collaboration between INTERPOL and CTED, and will ensure a comprehensive and coordinated approach for security issues related to preventing and countering terrorism.
Building on its strong relations with CTED, INTERPOL will also be working with the newly formed UN Counter Terrorism Office.
Treasury’s First Action Against a Foreign-Located Money Services Business
WASHINGTON - The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), working in coordination with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California, assessed a $110,003,314 civil money penalty today against BTC-e a/k/a Canton Business Corporation (BTC-e) for willfully violating U.S. anti-money laundering (AML) laws. Russian national Alexander Vinnik, one of the operators of BTC-e, was arrested in Greece this week, and FinCEN assessed a $12 million penalty against him for his role in the violations.
BTC-e is an internet-based, foreign-located money transmitter that exchanges fiat currency as well as the convertible virtual currencies Bitcoin, Litecoin, Namecoin, Novacoin, Peercoin, Ethereum, and Dash. It is one of the largest virtual currency exchanges by volume in the world. BTC-e facilitated transactions involving ransomware, computer hacking, identity theft, tax refund fraud schemes, public corruption, and drug trafficking.
“We will hold accountable foreign-located money transmitters, including virtual currency exchangers, that do business in the United States when they willfully violate U.S. anti-money laundering laws,” said Jamal El-Hindi, Acting Director for FinCEN. “This action should be a strong deterrent to anyone who thinks that they can facilitate ransomware, dark net drug sales, or conduct other illicit activity using encrypted virtual currency. Treasury’s FinCEN team and our law enforcement partners will work with foreign counterparts across the globe to appropriately oversee virtual currency exchangers and administrators who attempt to subvert U.S. law and avoid complying with U.S. AML safeguards.”
FinCEN acted in coordination with law enforcement’s seizure of BTC-e and Vinnik’s arrest. The Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, United States Secret Service, and Homeland Security Investigations conducted the criminal investigation.
Among other violations, BTC-e failed to obtain required information from customers beyond a username, a password, and an e-mail address. Instead of acting to prevent money laundering, BTC-e and its operators embraced the pervasive criminal activity conducted at the exchange. Users openly and explicitly discussed criminal activity on BTC-e’s user chat. BTC-e’s customer service representatives offered advice on how to process and access money obtained from illegal drug sales on dark net markets like Silk Road, Hansa Market, and AlphaBay.
BTC-e also processed transactions involving funds stolen between 2011 and 2014 from one of the world’s largest bitcoin exchanges, Mt. Gox. BTC-e processed over 300,000 bitcoin in transactions traceable to the theft. FinCEN has also identified at least $3 million of facilitated transactions tied to ransomware attacks such as “Cryptolocker” and “Locky.” Further, BTC-e shared customers and conducted transactions with the now-defunct money laundering website Liberty Reserve. FinCEN previously issued a finding under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act that identified Liberty Reserve as a financial institution of primary money laundering concern.
BTC-e has conducted over $296 million in transactions of bitcoin alone and tens of thousands of transactions in other convertible virtual currencies. The transactions included funds sent from customers located within the United States to recipients who were also located within the United States. BTC-e also concealed its geographic location and its ownership. Regardless of its ownership or location, the company was required to comply with U.S. AML laws and regulations as a foreign-located MSB including AML program, MSB registration, suspicious activity reporting, and recordkeeping requirements. This is the second supervisory enforcement action FinCEN has taken against a business that operates as an exchanger of virtual currency, and the first it has taken against a foreign-located MSB doing business in the United States.
The National Bank of the Republic of Belarus has announced it will integrate blockchain technology into its securities markets and make its use available to a number of other banking and non-banking entities.
On July 19, 2017, the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB) announced that it will be implementing blockchain technology into the nation’s securities markets. According to NBRB, blockchain technology can assist with the development of the Belarus stock market by creating improved conditions and transparency.
As the first stage of implementation, the bank has established a blockchain-based information network which allows any bank or non-banking financial institution to become the owner of a verifying node. Management of the network falls to the "Council of Nodes (owners of the verifying nodes), the members of which have equal rights," while the Settlement Center of the National Bank has been designated as the administrative body.
As per the NBRB:
“It is planned, that the next stage will be implementation of the blockchain technology in the securities market. The JSC ‘Belarusian Currency and Stock Exchange’ is planning to use blockchain for the purpose of maintaining the register of transactions involving securities in the stock and OTC markets.”
The National Bank states that its first example of practical use of the blockchain network in the Belarusian banking system involves the transfer of issued bank guarantees which may align with the Resolution of the Board of the National Bank No. 279, which went into effect on July 15, 2017, and provides inclusion of blockchain technology as a means for transferring bank guarantees.
The NBRB highlighted that its blockchain network does not currently involve virtual currency transactions, but argues there are no “conceptual restrictions as to the areas of the blockchain use in the IT sphere.” The bank hopes to eventually incorporate executable distributed code contracts and expand support to a number of additional operations.
“Over the longer term this technology may be used in the banking sphere as well as beyond it to tackle any other tasks, including, for example, organization of work with ‘smart’ contracts. Under the conditions of availability of legislative environment, the information verified within the blockchain network may be further used in different kinds of activities requiring provision of information: in business, records management, medicine, legal support, and many other spheres.”
The Russian lower house has ratified the convention on the confiscation of illegal funds and on countering the sponsorship of terrorism, introduced by the Council of Europe.
The Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism was introduced in May 2005 and signed by Russia in January 2009. In June this year, the Russian government approved the document for ratification and President Vladimir Putin forwarded it to the parliament.
The CE’s convention regulates the powers and rights of law enforcement agents in the investigation of suspects’ bank accounts and operations, as well as the procedure of seizing illegal income. It also regulates cooperation between various departments of the Russian Financial Intelligence Service.
According to explanations published on the Russian parliament’s website, the ratification of the convention must improve the effectiveness of Russia’s cooperation with foreign nations in the fight against the legalization of criminal funds and sponsorship of terrorism.
Russia introduced the latest major package of anti-terrorist amendments to its legislation about a year ago, making international terrorism a separate crime punished with up to 10 years in prison, as well as ordering up to 15 years behind bars for anyone found guilty of financing terrorist groups.
Most recent changes to the Russian anti-terrorist laws was made in late May this year, when Putin signed into law the bill that introduced administrative surveillance for people who have committed terrorist crimes and have already served their sentences.
In early 2016, lawmakers representing the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) proposed the introduction of property confiscation as punishment for terrorism, bribery, drug trafficking, public calls for extremism, high treason, and also murder and grievous bodily harm.
However, the bill was criticized by Human Rights activists and received a critical review from the cabinet. Government experts indicated that several international treaties, signed and ratified by Russia do not contain direct demands for property confiscation as criminal punishment and proposed that the MPs made some changes to the draft. So far, it has not been passed, even in the first reading.
A subsidiary of the London Stock Exchange Group is using blockchain to help unlisted small businesses tap resources previously only available to larger, public companies.
Developed by London Stock Exchange subsidiary Borsa Italiana, the blockchain platform, built with IBM Blockchain, is being designed to digitize both securities ownership and the capital structure of small- to medium-sized businesses (SMEs).
Currently undergoing an initial test phase with a small group of Borsa Italiana clients, the platform, powered by , is expected to eventually simplify the issuance of shares, streamlining SME access to capital.
London Stock Exchange Group's head of commercial technology innovation, David Harris, explained how moving the entire record of a small business's capital structure to a blockchain could make it easier for corporate owners to gain the trust of future investors.
Harris told CoinDesk: "Once you offer this structure to allow the ownership to be registered on a blockchain, you're then opening up greater certainty as to the ownership structure, which adds to the transparency and certainty of what future investors in the company will be walking into."
Currently limited to SMEs in Europe, the blockchain solution is designed to replace the paper trading certificates still in use by many private companies with smaller budgets.
At this initial phase, only the records themselves are being moved to a blockchain, meaning Harris doesn't expect the increased efficiency will result in more frequent trades and higher liquidity.
However, Harris said the current tests are just the first of what he imagines could lead to the simplification of the fundraising process itself.
"As you build out this ecosystem, it does not take a giant leap to where future shareholders, future capital, future debt can be raised," said Harris.
Still, today's news also marks the first major public blockchain development for the London Stock Exchange Groups since it became a founding member of the then-unnamed Hyperledger project in late 2015.
After making early contributions to the code that eventually became known as Hyperledger Fabric, the London Stock Exchange Group has been relatively quiet.
According to Harris, the group, which also includes the Turquoise stock exchange and theSME index, remained skeptical that blockchain was mature enough to meet the company's regulatory demands and transaction requirements.
In addition, Harris said there is also the difficulty of converting traditional assets and workflows into blockchain assets and smart contracts.
Then, with the release of Hyperledger Fabric 0.6 earlier this year, LSEG set up an internal working group that united its business, regulatory and legal teams as part of an effort "to figure out the right places" to apply the technology.
The final decision to focus on private small business shares puts the group in a similar category to Nasdaq, which unveiled its own private securities platform using Chain earlier this year.
"With new companies, small- and medium-sized enterprises, who are not part yet of the public issuance process, they are a good starting point to introduce new types of models," said Harris.
While the project began with Fabric 0.6, the version currently being tested was recently upgraded to the newlyproduction-ready Fabric 1.0, according to IBM’s vice president of blockchain solutions and research, Ramesh Gopinath.
Gopinath reported that even after the upgrade, what remained to be satisfied from a regulatory perspective was the security of the data being supplied throughout the "lifecycle." This included all the events a small company undergoes, from its entrance to the blockchain ecosystem, through to its possible exit as a publicly traded company.
By "weaving" data provided by the still-unnamed test firms together with corporate actions programmed into smart contracts, "the right levels of trust in the data and the workflow itself" can potentially be achieved, he said.
A time frame for when the results of the tests will be published was not revealed.
Harris concluded: "It's a technology that once it's widely adopted – and it has a long way to go – it is a disruptive innovation to its core, which is very exciting."
One of the most popular cryptocurrencies in the world is drawing increased attention from hackers, or at least that has been the case this week. For the second time in a span of just three days, hackers have been able to make off with millions of dollars worth of Ethereum, leaving vigilante white hat hackers scrambling to prevent further theft.
In this latest robbery, the hacking group (or individual hacker, we don't know yet) exploited a vulnerability in Parity, a digital wallet service where cryptocurrency miners can store their Ethereum. In doing so, the hackers were able to swipe over 153,000 Ether worth approximately $34 million from three separate multi-signature Ethereum wallets, according to the.
Following the latest heist, Parity founder Gavin Wood issued ato users.
"A vulnerability in Parity Wallet's variant of the standard multi-sig contract has been found," Wood wrote. He goes on to advise users to "immediately move assets contained in the multi-sig wallet to a secure address."
In the meantime, white hat hackers have been able to siphon some 377,015 Ether worth more than $85 million to prevent further loss.
"White hat group(s) were made aware of a vulnerability in a specific version of a commonly used multi-sig contract. This vulnerability was trivial to execute, so they took the necessary action to drain every vulnerable multi-sig they could find as quickly as possible," the White Hat Group.
Those funds will be issued back to their owners after the group is able to create another multi-sig for each individual with the same settings as before, minus the vulnerability that made theft possible in the first place.
This is not the only black eye for cryptocurrencies, or even the only theft this week. Back on Monday, hackers made off with anin Ethereum currency from CoinDash. In that instance, it is believed the culprits simply replaced the legitimate Ethereum wallet address listed on CoinDesk with one that belonged to them.
There are several other examples of thieves stealing large amounts of cryptocurrencies, as. Back in June of last year, hackers stole $53 million cryptocurrency from venture capital fund Decentralized Autonomous Organization. And then there was the situation in which $450 million of Bitcoin vanished from trading hub Mt. Gox a few years ago.
Despite the risks, mining for cryptocurrency continues be popular, much to the. If and when things ever settle down, it will likely be due to rather than the fear of theft.
The European Union has established an international consortium to combat criminal use of virtual currencies.
After the May 12, 2017, WannaCry ransomware attack that left computers in 150 countries gridlocked, EU authorities have announced the establishment of a 15 member consortium from seven EU countries in order to curtail criminal use of the dark web and virtual currencies.
The initiative, called TITANIUM (Tools for the Investigation of Transactions in Underground Markets), which along with researchers includes four EU law enforcement agencies and INTERPOL, aims to develop technical solutions for investigating and alleviating the risk of crime and terrorism within the darknet markets and virtual currencies.
TITANIUM Project coordinator and senior scientist at the AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH Ross King states the project won’t jeopardize the privacy of European citizens.
“The consortium will analyse legal and ethical requirements and define guidelines for storing and processing data, information, and knowledge involved in criminal investigations without compromising citizen privacy.”
According to the release, the consortium will be receiving 5 million euros from the European Union. These funds will be used to develop and implement tools that detect features common in criminal transactions, distinguish inconsistencies of criminal usage, and pinpoint key money laundering techniques. In addition, the researchers will hold training activities to further develop skills and disseminate knowledge among EU law enforcement agencies.
Furthermore, the researchers will test and authenticate their tools and services based on the guidance of those agencies to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the project. This step is especially important, as the virtual currency community is consistently evolving at the persistent rhythm of innovation. According to King:
“Criminal and terrorist activities related to virtual currencies and dark-net markets evolve quickly and vary in technical sophistication, resilience and intended targets.”
In recent years, there has been a “trend of exceptional growth in the influx of reports which, in 2016, reached 101,065 overall, a level eight times higher than was reported when the FIU (the Financial Intelligence Unit, a component of Banca d’Italia that was founded ten years ago) was established.” Claudio Clemente, Director of the FIU (which serves to fight money laundering) reported this at the presentation of the Annual Report on the Unit’s activities in 2016.
He claims that 60,000 of these reports (70% overall) were deemed to be “of investigatory interest” by the Financial Guard’s Special Unit of the Monetary Police.
“In 2016, the FIU’s indications regarding suspected transactions totaled an overall value of more than €88 billion, and more than €150 billion if we include attempted operations,” warns Banca d’Italia Governor Ignazio Visco, who emphasizes that, “the most important results were obtained by [the FIU’s] prevention system.”
The FIU has also reported that suspected terrorism financing operations have doubled. In particular, the report highlights the cause for concern: there were 741 such warnings in 2016, more than double 2015’s total and six times more than in 2014. As Director Clemente states, “More than 90% of these were deemed ‘of investigatory interest’ to the Monetary Police’s Special Unit; there are several cases in which these investigations have confirmed these suspicions.”
Operations involving voluntary disclosure have also grown. The FIU warns that the reports of suspected money laundering operations over the course of 2016 have grown by 22.3%, in comparison to 2015. This is due, in part, to the roughly 21,000 reports that were either directly or indirectly linked to voluntary disclosure cases. “The growing trend,” the Director states, “has continued throughout the first quarter of 2017, in spite of the drastic reduction in reports linked to voluntary disclosure.”
Minister of the Economy Pier Carlo Padoan discussed the FIU’s “great results.” According to the Minister, both the anti-money laundering operations and the FIU’s efforts to fight terrorism financing have produced “very important results in Italy’s efforts to fight crime,” thanks also to the “awareness” of the private citizens and public authorities who “are cooperating more intensely and effectively.”
The Minister repeatedly emphasized “the strong growth in the private sector’s awareness—the driving force behind the growth [in reports]” and the “first signs of serious collaboration from the professionals, who are amassing the necessary knowledge to identify abnormal operations,” a result that is also thanks to the FIU’s tactics.
Macao, SAR - 7 July 2017.
The 24 Plenary of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) was held in Macao, SAR from 2-7 July 2017. The plenary was attended by 354 participants who were representatives of 112 FIUs, 11 observer organisations, and 8 international organisations with a view to discuss the challenges FIUs face in combating money laundering, associated predicate offences, and terrorist financing.
The plenary was co-chaired by Mr. Sergio Espinosa, Chair of the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units/Deputy Superintendent of FIU-Peru and Ms. Deborah Ng, Head of GIF, Macao, SAR. The Co-Chairs congratulated KwFIU, Kuwait and FIU Sudan, Sudan as new Egmont Group members following their endorsement by Heads of FIU. . The efforts of the new members were commended highly considering they were required to meet enhanced membership benchmarks. The Heads of FIU endorsed the new membership of the FIU Germany as the FIU in this jurisdiction was reorganized into an administrative unit under the authority of the German Central Customs Authority (Zollkriminalamt ZKA).
The Heads of FIU made a decision, by consensus, to suspend the membership status of the NFIU, Nigeria, following repeated failures on the part of the FIU to address concerns regarding the protection of confidential information, specifically related to the status of suspicious transaction report (STR) details and information derived from international exchanges, as well as concerns on the legal basis and clarity of the NFIU’s independence from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The measure will remain in force until immediate corrective actions are implemented. The NFIU, Nigeria is now excluded from all Egmont Group events and activities. The Egmont Group expressed its hope that the Nigerian authorities will address these concerns to enable the Egmont Group to lift the suspension as soon as possible.
Egmont Group Observer status was granted to the European Commission and Europol, which brings the total number of Egmont Group Observers up to 22. During the week, 23 bilateral information sharing arrangements were signed between Egmont Group members. These developments signal an ever-increasing willingness for the exchange of financial information and intelligence.
. This comes as a response to a request from the membership for a dedicated and sustainable structure providing technical assistance, training, and mentoring activities to enhance the effectiveness of FIUs. It will also assist FIUs in implementing internationally recognized best practices and support them in implementing innovative ideas that can enhance their operations. This is the core mandate of the Egmont Group members, which are an interconnected family of FIUs.
Important changes in leadership took place in Macao. . Mrs. Verbeek-Kusters’ two-year term as Chair will run until the end of the 26 Egmont Group Plenary in 2019. Also, new regional representatives were elected by each of the eight Egmont Group regions, respectively, namely: Americas Region (Mr. Luc Beaudry/FINTRAC, Canada and Mr. Mariano Federici/UIF-AR, Argentina); Asia and Pacific Region (Mr. Edwin Chow/JFIU, Hong Kong); East and Southern Africa Region (Ms. Fikile Zitha/FIC, South Africa); Eurasia Region (Mr. Igor Alekseev /Rosfinmonitoring, Russian Federation); Europe I Region (Mr. Gabor Simonka/HFIU, Hungary and Mr. Francois Magnaud/TRACFIN, France); Europe II Region (Mr. Daniel Thelesklaf/EFFI, Liechtenstein and Mrs. Lindsey Bermingham/FIU-IOM, Isle of Man); Middle East and Northern Africa Region (Mr. Abdul Hafiz Mansour/SIC, Lebanon); and West and Central Africa Region (Mr. Hubert Sambone/NAFI, Cameroon). Furthermore, the Egmont Committee elected both Mr. Abdul Hafiz Mansour and Mr. Mariano Federici as Vice Chairs of the Egmont Committee. This will be circulated to Heads of FIU for out-of-session endorsement.
Consistent time was allocated for a series of training sessions that covered the role and capacities of FIUs in combating the financing of recruitment for terrorist purposes, the disruption of illicit financial flows, new payment methods, how reporting entities detect TF suspicious transactions / I.D. and document fraud, open source information for TF issues, and business email compromise.
This year, the finalists in the Best Egmont Case Award (BECA) competition were INTRAC, Indonesia and Rosfinmonitoring, Russian Federation, with the latter being declared the winner. The winning BECA cases can be found in the Egmont Group Annual Reports. In addition, the World Bank-UNODC Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) presented a StAR Award of Excellence for the first time this year to a joint case presented by SIC, Lebanon and CTAF, Tunisia, for their success in asset recovery in a corruption case. All entries were recognised and all Egmont Group members were encouraged to continue sharing their best cases in future competitions.
The Egmont Group would like to acknowledge and warmly thank Mr. Sergio Espinosa for his outstanding leadership while serving as Chair of the organization since June 2015. All participants expressed their gratitude to GIF, Macao, SAR for hosting the 24 Egmont Plenary Meeting so effectively and skilfully. The valuable contribution of GIF, Macao, SAR to the activities of the Egmont Group is acknowledged and appreciated.
In recent years, there has been a “trend of exceptional growth in the influx of reports which, in 2016, reached 101,065 overall, a level eight times higher than was reported when the FIU (the Financial Intelligence Unit, a component of Banca d’Italia that was founded ten years ago) was established.” Claudio Clemente, Director of the FIU (which serves to fight money laundering) reported this at the presentation of the Annual Report on the Unit’s activities in 2016. He claims that 60,000 of these reports (70% overall) were deemed to be “of investigatory interest” by the Financial Guard’s Special Unit of the Monetary Police.
“In 2016, the FIU’s indications regarding suspected transactions totaled an overall value of more than €88 billion, and more than €150 billion if we include attempted operations,” warns Banca d’Italia Governor Ignazio Visco, who emphasizes that, “the most important results were obtained by [the FIU’s] prevention system.”
The FIU has also reported that suspected terrorism financing operations have doubled. In particular, the report highlights the cause for concern: there were 741 such warnings in 2016, more than double 2015’s total and six times more than in 2014. As Director Clemente states, “More than 90% of these were deemed ‘of investigatory interest’ to the Monetary Police’s Special Unit; there are several cases in which these investigations have confirmed these suspicions.”
Operations involving voluntary disclosure have also grown. The FIU warns that the reports of suspected money laundering operations over the course of 2016 have grown by 22.3%, in comparison to 2015. This is due, in part, to the roughly 21,000 reports that were either directly or indirectly linked to voluntary disclosure cases. “The growing trend,” the Director states, “has continued throughout the first quarter of 2017, in spite of the drastic reduction in reports linked to voluntary disclosure.”
Minister of the Economy Pier Carlo Padoan discussed the FIU’s “great results.” According to the Minister, both the anti-money laundering operations and the FIU’s efforts to fight terrorism financing have produced “very important results in Italy’s efforts to fight crime,” thanks also to the “awareness” of the private citizens and public authorities who “are cooperating more intensely and effectively.”
The Minister repeatedly emphasized “the strong growth in the private sector’s awareness—the driving force behind the growth [in reports]” and the “first signs of serious collaboration from the professionals, who are amassing the necessary knowledge to identify abnormal operations,” a result that is also thanks to the FIU’s tactics.
Khartoum - The Sudan's membership has been accredited Wednesday to the Financial Information Unit (FIU) of the Egmont Group as the 155th member country.
The director of the Sudan's Financial Investigation and Information Unit, Dr. Hyidar Abass, revealed that the Sudan's membership at the Egmont group has been approved during the 24 th meeting of the directors of the financial investigations and information units hosted by china during 2-7 of current month.
In statements from his residence in China Dr. Hyidar explained in press statements that Egmont Group is an international group including units for the financial information after satisfying all the standards of combating money laundering and terrorism financing such as the units independence, capability of exchanging information, adding that this membership is taken as basic standard in the states evaluation.
He added that the group is working for the development of the financial information units and its cooperation in combating money laundering, terrorism financing, and the promotion of the data exchange network between the units via its secured electronic web site.
SUNA noting that the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units is an informal network of national financial intelligence units (FIUs), where the National FIUs collect information on suspicious or unusual financial activity from the financial industry and other entities or professions required to report transactions suspected of being money laundering or terrorism financing. FIUs are normally not law enforcement agencies, with their mission being to process and analyze the information received. If sufficient evidence of unlawful activity is found, the matter is passed to the public prosecution agencies.
MOSCOW, Russia - Investigators from 21 countries met to share operational intelligence on Transnational Eurasian Organized Crime (TEOC) as part of INTERPOL’s Project Millennium.
The two-day meeting saw participants updated on the new Millennium analysis file which compiles selected and analyzed data on high-ranking members of these crime groups to highlight previously unidentified connections between investigations.
Launched in 1999, Project Millennium provides a platform for cooperation between countries on combating TEOC, focusing on ‘Thieves in Law’.
At the highest level in the criminal hierarchy, the ‘Thieves in Law’ control the activities of other criminal groups engaged in a wide variety of crimes, such as contract murder, extortion, organized trafficking in drugs and human beings and property crime.
Generally from the republics of the former Soviet Union and former Communist countries of Eastern Europe, the number of TEOC groups is rising steadily and becoming an increasing threat worldwide.
Hosted by the Russian Ministry of the Interior in cooperation with the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Moscow, the working group meeting was attended by specialists from Andorra, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong (China), Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Russia, Spain, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
The European Commission assessed the risk level of virtual currencies and found them vulnerable due to features such as anonymity, yet the practical threat of them being used for these for terrorism and money laundering remains moderate.
Recently, the European Commission published the Supranational Risk Assessment Report (Report) in which it assessed risks factors that pose threats to EU markets and cross-border relations, such as money laundering (ML) and terrorist financing (TF).
The Commission analyzed the risks of different sectors and financial products, including virtual currencies, and distinguished two variables in the study: threat and vulnerability. The Commission concluded that the actual threat of TF and ML related to virtual currencies is moderately significant, but that the possible vulnerabilities posed by virtual currencies are significant or very significant.
The Commission Staff Working Document, which accompanied the Report, noted that:
“LEAs [law enforcement authorities] have gathered some information according to which terrorist groups may use virtual currencies to finance terrorist activities. However, the use of virtual currencies requires technical expertise which makes it less attractive.”
The report continued, “few investigations have been conducted on virtual currencies which seem to be rarely used by criminal organisations. While they may have a high intent to use due to VCs characteristics (anonymity in particular), the level of capability is lower due to high technology required.”
Accordingly, the Commission rated the threat of TF and ML related to virtual currencies was moderate. The European authority, however, concluded that virtual currencies are vulnerable to a significant degree to criminal and/or terrorist use. The Commission highlighted that a lack of regulatory framework poses the greatest risk for virtual currencies. It also stated that the inherent risks are “very high due to the features of the virtual currencies (internet, cross-border and anonymity).” This isn’t surprising as the anonymity debate has been echoing throughout EU chambers.
In March 2017, the European Parliament published the “Amending Directive (EU) 2015/849,” which stated that anonymity was one of the main hindrances to the adoption of virtual currencies. As a result, EU officials proposed increased transparency by trusted officials.
“To combat the risks related to the anonymity, national Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) should be able to associate virtual currency addresses to the identity of the owner of virtual currencies.”
Nevertheless, the results of the Commission’s threat assessment are not surprising. Recent events have not exactly sold virtual currency to EU officials. After the WannaCry ransomware crippled computer systems across Europe, EU authorities took clear-cut steps to eradicate the possibility of criminal use with virtual currencies.
As a result, in June 2017, the EU announced a new initiative called TITANIUM (Tools for the Investigation of Transactions in Underground Markets) that calls for multiple EU law enforcement agencies, INTERPOL, and researchers to work together to develop technical solutions for investigating and alleviating the risk of crime and terrorism within the darknet markets and virtual currencies.
Hamburg, 7 July 2017 _ European Commission – Statement.
1. We, the Leaders of the G20, strongly condemn all terrorist attacks worldwide and stand united and firm in the fight against terrorism and its financing. These atrocious acts have strengthened our resolve to cooperate to enhance our security and protect our citizens. Terrorism is a global scourge that must be fought and terrorist safe havens eliminated in every part of the world.
2. We reaffirm that all measures on countering terrorism need to be implemented in accordance with the UN Charter and all obligations under international law, including international human rights law.
3. We call for the implementation of existing international commitments on countering terrorism, including the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, and compliance with relevant resolutions and targeted sanctions by the UN Security Council relating to terrorism. We commit to continue to support UN efforts to prevent and counter terrorism.
4. We will address the evolving threat of returning foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) from conflict zones such as Iraq and Syria and remain committed to preventing FTFs from establishing a foothold in other countries and regions around the world. We recall UN Security Council Resolution 2178 (2014), which requires a range of actions to better tackle the foreign terrorist fighter threat.
5. We will facilitate swift and targeted exchanges of information between intelligence and law enforcement and judicial authorities on operational information-sharing, preventive measures and criminal justice response, while ensuring the necessary balance between security and data protection aspects, in accordance with national laws. We will ensure that terrorists are brought to justice.
6. We will work to improve the existing
international information architecture in the areas of security, travel and
migration, including INTERPOL, ensuring the necessary balance between security
and data protection aspects. In particular, we encourage all members to make
full use of relevant information sharing mechanisms, in particular INTERPOL's
information sharing functions.
7. We call upon our border agencies to strengthen cooperation to detect travel for terrorist purposes, including by identifying priority transit and destination countries of terrorists. We will support capacity building efforts in these countries in areas such as border management, information sharing and watch-list capability to manage the threat upstream. We will promote greater use of customs security programs, including where appropriate, the World Customs Organization's (WCO) Security Programme and Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which focus on strengthening Customs administrations' capacity to deal with security related issues and managing the cross-border flows of goods, people and means of transport to ensure they comply with the law.
8. We will address in close coordination the
evolving threats and potential vulnerabilities in aviation security systems and
exchange information on risk assessments. We recall the UN Security Council's
Resolution 2309 (2016) which urges closer collaboration to ensure security of
global air services and the prevention of terrorist attacks. We will promote
full implementation of effective and proportionate aviation security measures
established by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) in
partnership with all its contracting states as necessary. We call to urgently
address vulnerabilities in airport security related measures, such as access
control and screening, covered by the Chicago Convention and will act jointly
to ensure that international security standards are reviewed, updated, adapted
and put in place based on current risks.
9. We highlight the importance of providing appropriate support to the victims of terrorist acts and will enhance our cooperation and exchange of best practices to this end.
10. We underline our resolve to make the
international financial system entirely hostile to terrorist financing and
commit to deepening international cooperation and exchange of information,
including working with the private sector, which has a critical role in global
efforts to counter terrorism financing. We reaffirm our commitment to tackle
all sources, techniques and channels of terrorist financing and our call for
swift and effective implementation of UNSCR and the Financial Action Task Force
(FATF) standards worldwide. We call for strengthening measures against the
financing of international terrorist organisations in particular
ISIL/ISIS/Daesh, Al Qaida and their affiliates.
11. There should be no “safe spaces” for terrorist financing anywhere in the world. However, inconsistent and weak implementation of the UN and FATF standards allows them to persist. In order to eliminate all such “safe spaces”, we commit to intensify capacity building and technical assistance, especially in relation to terrorist financing hot-spots, and we support the FATF in its efforts to strengthen its traction capacity and the effectiveness of FATF and FATF-style regional bodies.
12. We welcome the reforms agreed by the FATF Plenary in June and support the ongoing work to strengthen the governance of the FATF. We also welcome the FATF intention to further explore its transformation into a legal person, which recognises that the FATF has evolved from a temporary forum to a sustained public and political commitment to tackle AML/CFT threats. We also appreciate FATF commencing the membership process for Indonesia that will broaden its geographic representation and global engagement. We ask the FATF to provide an update by the first G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 2018. We call on all member states to ensure that the FATF has the necessary resources and support to effectively fulfil its mandate.
13. We welcome that countering terrorist finance remains the highest priority of FATF, and look forward to FATF's planned outreach to legal authorities, which will contribute to enhanced international cooperation and increased effectiveness in the application of FATF's standards.
14. We will advance the effective implementation of the international standards on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and legal arrangements for the purposes of countering financing terrorism.
15. Low cost attacks by small cells and individuals funded by small amounts of money transferred through a wide range of payment means are an increasing challenge. We call on the private sector to continue to strengthen their efforts to identify and tackle terrorism financing. We ask our Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors to work with FATF, FSB, the financial sector, Financial Intelligence Units, law enforcement and FinTech firms to develop new tools such as guidance and indicators, to harness new technologies to better track terrorist finance transactions, and to work together with law enforcement authorities to bridge the intelligence gap and improve the use of financial information in counter-terrorism investigations.
16. We call upon countries to address all alternative sources of financing of terrorism, including dismantling connections, where they exist, between terrorism and transnational organized crime, such as the diversion of weapons including weapons of mass destruction, looting and smuggling of antiquities, kidnapping for ransom, drugs and human trafficking.
17. Our counterterrorism actions must continue to be part of a comprehensive approach, including combatting radicalization and recruitment, hampering terrorist movements and countering terrorist propaganda. We will exchange best practices on preventing and countering terrorism and violent extremism conducive to terrorism, national strategies and deradicalisation and disengagement programmes, and the promotion of strategic communications as well as robust and positive narratives to counter terrorist propaganda.
18. We stress that countering terrorism requires comprehensively addressing underlying conditions that terrorists exploit. It is therefore crucial to promote political and religious tolerance, economic development and social cohesion and inclusiveness, to resolve armed conflicts, and to facilitate reintegration. We acknowledge that regional and national action plans can contribute to countering radicalisation conducive to terrorism.
19. We will share knowledge on concrete measures to address threats from returning foreign terrorist fighters and home-grown radicalised individuals. We will also share best practices on deradicalisation and reintegration programmes including with respect to prisoners.
20. We will work with the private sector, in particular communication service providers and administrators of relevant applications, to fight exploitation of the internet and social media for terrorist purposes such as propaganda, funding and planning of terrorist acts, inciting terrorism, radicalizing and recruiting to commit acts of terrorism, while fully respecting human rights. Appropriate filtering, detecting and removing of content that incites terrorist acts is crucial in this respect. We encourage industry to continue investing in technology and human capital to aid in the detection as well as swift and permanent removal of terrorist content. In line with the expectations of our peoples we also encourage collaboration with industry to provide lawful and non-arbitrary access to available information where access is necessary for the protection of national security against terrorist threats. We affirm that the rule of law applies online as well as it does offline.
21. We also stress the important role of the media, civil society, religious groups, the business community and educational institutions in fostering an environment which is conducive to the prevention of radicalisation and terrorism.
LYON, France - Senior figures from the public and private sectors, including finance, telecommunications and information security will be taking part in a high level dialogue on countering cyber and financial crime organized by INTERPOL.
Following the recent global ransomware attacks, the two-day (12 and 13 July) meeting in Lyon, France will provide a forum for an exchange of information and ideas on preventing cyber-enabled financial crimes and social engineering frauds to enhance virtual security.
Breakout working groups will enable participants to hold in-depth discussions and direct exchanges focusing on cooperation between law enforcement and the financial, and Internet and telecom sectors.
In addition to the opening addresses by INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei and Secretary General Jürgen Stock, the plenary sessions featuring senior officials from the US Department of Justice, IBM, Team Cymru, Alibaba, UBS, Security Brokers and Ant Financial Services will also be open to the media.
One-to-one interviews with participants may also be arranged upon request.
On 26 June 2017 the Information about People with Significant Control (Amendment) Regulations 2017 (the "2017 Regulations") were brought into force.
Key changes brought about by the 2017 Regulations include the following:
-UK-incorporated companies trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange and other prescribed markets (such as the NEX Exchange Growth Market) are now required to make reasonable investigations as to their beneficial ownership and, from 24 July 2017, will need to produce, and make public, beneficial ownership registers;
-the way in which PSC information is notified to Companies House has been revised; and
-new deadlines for filing relevant information regarding PSCs with Companies House are significantly more onerous.
The 2017 Regulations were brought into force as part of the UK's implementation of Directive 2015/849/EU, commonly referred to as the Fourth Money Laundering Directive (the "Directive").
EU member states were obliged to implement the Directive by 26 June 2017.
Paris, 6 July 2017 – The FATF published its report to the July 2017 G20 Leaders’ Summit.
The report sets out FATF’s ongoing work to fight money laundering and terrorist financing, and in particular in the following areas, in which the FATF greatly reinforced its focus, with the support of the G20.
-Strengthening its institutional basis, governance and capacity
-Countering terrorist financing
-Transparency and availability of beneficial ownership information
-Correspondent banking and remittances
The report provides an overview of the FATF’s recent work in these areas and suggests possible next steps.
On June 26, 2017 the Act for the Implementation of the Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive, for the execution of the EU Funds Transfer Regulation and for the reorganization of the central department for financial investigations became effective.
This Act reforms and completely restates the former version of the German Anti-Money Laundering Act (GwG). This client information presents important new features which are relevant for private equity funds and investors.
The new Anti-Money Laundering Act leads to a further reinforcement of the risk-based approach. On one hand, the obliged entities gain additional freedom when selecting the measures to be taken. On the other hand, there are on many occasions no concrete legal provisions for the obliged entities providing reassurance that they are acting according to the law.
Anti-Money Laundering Officer
An important amendment for managers of private equity funds is that from now on also merely registered capital management companies (AIFMs) have to appoint an anti-money laundering officer (§ 7 GwG). Such appointment has to be announced to the regulatory authority in advance. The anti-money laundering officer has to be a person at management level. Furthermore, it is now a requirement that a person at management level is appointed to be responsible for risk management and compliance with the legal provisions regarding money laundering (§ 4 (1) GwG).
Another new feature of the amended Anti-Money Laundering Act is that an opportunity has to be created in order for employees to be able to confidentially report violations of the anti-money laundering guidelines internally. This provision complements the office for whistleblowers which has to be established according to § 53 GwG. It remains within the authority of the obliged entities to decide which internal office is responsible to receive the respective reports and also how the confidentiality of the affected employee's identity will be ensured.
The definition of beneficial ownership is to a large extent similar to the definition that was used so far.
However, the amended GwG adds a provision to the definition for the case that it is not possible to determine a natural person as the beneficial owner or that doubts remain. In this case, the legal representative, the managing partner or the partner of the contractual partner is considered as the beneficial owner.
Furthermore the Act extends the circle of beneficial owners in the case of incorporated foundations and fiduciary entities. From now on, inter alia, members of the board of directors as well as any beneficiary is encompassed, without reliance on the former shareholding threshold of 25%.
Extent of Identification
The provisions regarding the extent of the process of gathering information from a person that needs to be identified are equivalent to the former provisions. As before, the contractual partner and if necessary the person acting on behalf of him as well as the beneficial owner have to be identified.
With regard to the verification of the identity of legal entities the former provisions continue to be valid. The fact that partnerships are not mentioned in § 12 (2) GwG is likely to be a mere editorial error, since the grounds of the law also refer to the former provision of § 4 (4) GwG (old).
The verification process for the identity of natural persons was substantially amended: The standard case as of the law is still the verification of the document which is presented on-site. Besides that, the Act now allows for a number of other verification processes (e.g. qualified electronic signature or the video identification process).
It is not clear yet, whether the current manner of identifying absent investors by transmitting certified identity documents is still a valid verification process. In our opinion, this verification process should at least still be sufficient in cases in which only a low risk of money laundering or terrorist financing exists.
The new Act only provides few provisions regarding the way that collectable proof is identified and reviewed if it is not possible to present originals. It is to be hoped that the practice carried out in other jurisdictions, which render confirmed copies by especially qualified people sufficient, even according to the new GwG and particularly in cases of simplified due diligence measures (§ 14 (2) no. 2 GwG), is not queried. Considering the increased burden of proof and documentation obligations, particularly for contractual partners oversees, it will be difficult to communicate this if from a German point of view only notarized copies satisfy the requirements of GwG.
The Act introduced a duty to also verify the authorization of the person acting on behalf of the contractual partner (§ 10 (1) no. 1 GwG. So far, they merely needed to be identified. From now on, it also needs to be verified whether the person is authorized to act on behalf of the contractual partner (e.g. by presenting the letter of authorization or a list of the persons authorized to sign documents or verify the general commercial power of representation with the commercial register)
In our opinion, it is not necessary to identify investors that have been acquired before June 26, 2017. This is made clear in the grounds of the law regarding the general due diligence measures (§ 10 GwG).
Duty to Report to the Register
The Act establishes a transparency register at federal level for all beneficial owners of legal entities and registered partnerships.
Therefore, the duty to report to the transparency register exists especially for funds that are structured as a GmbH & Co. KG.
The report includes information regarding the beneficial owner, namely the given and family name, date of birth, place of residence as well as nature and extent of its economic interest.
In our opinion, there is no duty to gather new information about past circumstances. Rather, only those pieces of information have to be reported that are already known.
The initial reports to the register have to be conducted by October 1, 2017. The reports can be filed online via www.transparenzregister.de. The duty is considered to be fulfilled if the required information is already contained in a public register (e.g. commercial register, register of associations).
For investors who are invested in German funds it is important that they have to submit the required information to the fund manager as far as the investors are beneficial owners or are controlled by beneficial owners. This can be relevant especially for family office vehicles.
If the reporting duties are violated, a fine can be imposed.
Access to the Register
After prior online registration anyone who has a legitimate interest can generally examine the transparency register.
If the beneficial owner wishes to limit the access to his information in the register, he needs to file a request. In this request, the beneficial owner has to show that his interests worthy of protection prevail over the interest of access to the register. A fund manager should therefore inform his investors about the intended reports to the transparency register in a timely manner.
29 June 2017 - Effective information-sharing is one of the cornerstones of a well-functioning AML/CFT framework. Constructive and timely exchange of information is a key requirement of the FATF standards and cuts across a number of Recommendations and Immediate Outcomes.
The FATF is currently developing guidance to promote information sharing within financial institutions (part of the same financial group) as well as between financial institutions not belonging to the same financial group.
The guidance is also intended to provide country examples on how to promote information sharing, including through public-private partnerships.
The FATF is consulting private sector stakeholders before the guidance is finalised.
The draft guidance contains a section on sharing of information on suspicions that funds are the proceeds of crime or related to terrorist financing within the financial group in a cross border environment (Paragraphs 38-51).
The final guidance will also cover information sharing between financial institutions which are not part of the same group.
This could include explanation of information sharing in the context of wire transfers, correspondent relationships, and reliance situations; as well as on the use of legal gateways or public-private partnerships. Views would also be welcome on this subject.
Please note that the current draft of the guidance has not been approved by the FATF at this stage. It will be subject to further revisions and amendments.
Marking the 25 years since the murder of an Italian judge who dedicated his life to fighting the Mafia, a senior United Nations official today stressed the need for the international community to renew its commitment to address evolving and emerging forms of organized crime.
“Criminals exploit inequality and vulnerability, and profit from gaps in development and enforcement,” Yury Fedotov, Executive Director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), told a High-Level meeting General Assembly meeting in New York to honour Giovanni Falcone, the judge killed in 1992 by a massive roadside bomb planted in Sicily by the Mafia.
“But there is nothing inevitable or invincible about transnational organized crime. We must engage all of our institutions if we hope to defeat the criminals and protect the defenceless,” he added.
The special meeting also focused on the implementation of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime – widely known as the Palermo Convention – and the Protocols thereto and highlighted emerging trends and challenges in crime prevention and criminal justice and their impact on sustainable development.
Mr. Falcone's assassination galvanized the international community's efforts in this regard and led to the adoption of the Palermo Convention, which came into force in December 2003, and has 187 States Parties today. UNODC is the guardian of the treaty.
“A quarter of a century after his assassination, we need renewed commitment and common purpose more than ever to counter evolving and emerging forms of organized crime,” Mr. Fedotov said, noting that such efforts include building capacities, investing resources and creating and strengthening transparent and accountable institutions of law enforcement and justice.
In addition, there is a need to invest in prevention and education, and involve young people and civil society, he said.
For his part, General Assembly President Peter Thomson said that, in the years that have followed the adoption of the Palermo Convention, the Assembly passed a series of resolutions that have added to the tools to prevent crime and pursue criminal justice.
But with criminal groups having been quick to embrace sophisticated new techniques that have changed the world, he said “It is imperative therefore that we continue to build upon Judge Falcone's legacy by exploring options to enhance our existing legal frameworks – particularly in light of the barbarous acts of terrorism that are being perpetrated across our world.”
“Judge Falcone understood that crime can thrive when education, hope and opportunity is lost,” continued the Assembly President, underscoring: “Therefore, we must ever examine ways to strengthen our efforts to combat organized crime, to strengthen rule of law, and to bring international criminals to justice.”
Other speakers were also expected to include: the Chair of the 26th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN (Vienna), Mitsuru Kitano; and President of 8th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations (Vienna), Pilar Saborio de Rocafort and the Italian Minister of Justice Andrea Orlando.
Uganda will in September host a group of international experts to try and convince them that the country's financial system is well-regulated enough to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
The visit is being organised on the back of threats that Uganda could be downgraded by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to the red zone of the organisations ratings, putting the country at the same level as pariah states such as North Korea and Iran.
Last week, the process leading to the September visit gathered momentum in Valencia, Spain, during the FATF meetings, where a team of Ugandan technocrats from the ministry of Finance and Bank of Uganda put up spirited defences of the Uganda financial system's health. They said regulators are alert to block any laundered money.
"The FATF plenary has commended our efforts; improvements and endorsed recommendations for an on-site inspection visit to Uganda, which is scheduled for September this year. Their visit is intended to ascertain and confirm that our broad improved systems and financial processes function effectively and seamlessly," a statement from the ministry of finance said at the weekend.
FATF is a policy-making body that sets standards and promotes effective implementation of legal, regulatory and operational measures for combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system, Uganda has long taken issue with FATF's assessment of its financial system. FATF lists Uganda among only seven countries that are just a level above the red zone occupied by Iran and North Korea.
On this list of high-risk and non-cooperative countries, Uganda is in the company of volatile states such as Syria, Iraq and Yemen. For Patrick Ocailap, the deputy secretary to the Treasury, who led Uganda's delegation to Spain, FATF's assessment of Uganda appears way off the mark.
"As we push forward to attaining modern and industrialized status as a country, we are obliged to avoid complacency and vulnerability but ensure that a clean, fraud and crime-free financial regime prevails in Uganda. We, so far, proved our commitment and have strong collaboration and support from key government institutions," he said.
A number of territories that had failed to demonstrate they have complied with international tax transparency standards have had their ratings upgraded by the OECD, following "fast-track" peer reviews.
It said that the territories' frameworks were reevaluated to assess whether recent progress would result in an upgrade to their ratings if they were to be reviewed again. The OECD said the fast-track process was rigorous and informed by peer input but does not substitute a full peer review.
In all cases a full review will be carried out and a peer evaluation done against the revised international standard for exchange of information on request, which now includes the requirement of beneficial ownership, the OECD said.
Under the peer review, countries were deemed non-compliant if they failed to meet two of the following requirements:
-At least a "Largely Compliant" rating with respect to the Exchange Of Information on Request (EOIR) standard;
-A commitment to implement the Automatic Exchange Of Information (AEOI) standard, with first exchanges in 2018 (with respect to the year 2017) at the latest; and
-Participation in the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters or a sufficiently broad exchange network permitting both EOIR and AEOI.
Following a fast-track re-evaluation, the Global Forum found Andorra, Antigua and Barbuda, Costa Rica, Dominica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, the Federated States of Micronesia, Lebanon, Nauru, Panama, Samoa, the United Arab Emirates, and Vanuatu to be largely compliant.
Meanwhile the Marshall Islands was deemed to be partially compliant, it said. However, Trinidad and Tobago was identified as the only jurisdiction that has not yet made sufficient progress towards satisfactory implementation of the tax transparency standards.
The OECD said discussions are continuing with Trinidad and Tobago, and progress is anticipated soon.
In all cases a full review will be carried out and a peer evaluation done against the revised international standard for exchange of information on request, which now includes the requirement of beneficial ownership.
Commenting on the provisional ratings upgrades, the OECD said: "The provisional ratings reflect the strong progress made by the jurisdictions in implementing the Exchange of Information on Request Standard. A number of critical changes have been introduced by the reviewed jurisdictions, including the elimination of strict bank secrecy and bearer shares, improved access to accounting records, and a more rigorous oversight and enforcement of obligations to maintain information. Further progress has also been achieved on expanding the breadth of the exchange networks including signature of the Multilateral Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance on Tax Matters."
Panama released a statement welcoming recognition of the changes it has made in recent months. The Panamanian Government said that, in March 2017, Panama requested a fast-track review, "as the previous evaluation was based on out-dated legal frameworks and had failed to take into account the country's new regulatory developments as well as policy decisions." Additionally, Panama ratified the Convention of Mutual Administrative Assistance (MAC), which allows for exchange of tax information with over 100 jurisdictions.
Welcoming the provisional upgrade to "largely compliant," Minister of Economy and Finance Dulcidio De La Guardia said: "This is great news for us. It is a testament to all of our hard work to fight against tax evasion and to meet international expectations and standards regarding transparency, which have been ongoing from day one of the Varela administration. We will continue working for transparency, and today we celebrate that the international community recognizes our commitment to international standards."
Terrorists are beginning to appreciate how useful bitcoin can be for quick, cheap and near-anonymous money transfers across the world. The cryptocurrency has been used by the Islamic State and jihadists in the Gaza Strip, according to a recent report by the Center for New American Security (CNAS).
To fight this threat – along with drug trafficking, money laundering and other illicit uses of cryptocurrencies – Senator Chuck Grassley introduced the "Combating Money Laundering, Terrorist Financing, and Counterfeiting Act of 2017" in May. According to a statement, he hopes the bill will "update our money laundering laws for the 21st century." The bill could allow for civil asset forfeitures of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and require users to declare cryptocurrency assets exceeding $10,000 whenever they cross a U.S. border.
The Iowa Republican has been joined by California Democrat Dianne Feinstein, Texas Republican John Cornyn and Rhode Island Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse. Welcome as such bipartisan cooperation is, however, questions remain about whether Senate Bill 1241 is necessary or even productive.
According to the CNAS report, "there is no more than anecdotal evidence that terrorist groups have used virtual currencies to support themselves." For the time being, established systems of money transfer such as hawala networks suffice. In order to curtail a potential threat, experts argue, the government risks stifling innovation that is actually underway.
Testifying before the House Financial Services Committee on June 8, Coin Center executive director Jerry Brito said that blockchain technology – the cryptographic innovation that underpins bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – is "perhaps as important as the web," while acknowledging that "like the web, illicit actors are attracted to it." For Brito, however, the way to combat those actors is to reduce – not add to – the regulatory burden on cryptocurrency companies. Quoting the CNAS report, he told lawmakers:
"One particular challenge in this area is the requirement for a virtual currency firm to obtain licenses in all states in which it operates and maintain compliance consistent with both federal and applicable state standards where they are licensed to operate. With only a single federal registration for virtual currency firms, compliance costs would be more manageable for smaller firms, and regulators would be better able to oversee firms."
Kathryn Haun, a lecturer at Stanford Law School, also told the committee that a federal compliance standard would help. She said that digital currency companies in the U.S. are some of the most cooperative financial services firms around, producing better Suspicious Activity Reports than big banks – despite having much less in the way of compliance resources. In her decade working as a federal prosecutor, the best turnaround she ever saw on a subpoena was from a digital currency company. Jonathan Levin, co-founder of Chainalysis, pointed out that cryptocurrency intermediaries already register with FinCEN, the Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.
When digital currencies become a problem, the culprits almost always use unregistered, overseas exchanges, where Haun said "nearly 100% of ransomware and hacking campaigns take place." She argued that law enforcement needs "more statutory authority to go after uncooperative entities overseas."
Grassley's bill would not do what those experts suggest. S. 1241 would include digital currencies under the legal definition of monetary instruments and the companies that deal with them under the definition of financial institutions, which could result in anti-money laundering reporting requirements for those transporting more than $10,000 in digital currency across the U.S. border.
The problem, as Blockchain Alliance counsel Alan Cohn points out, is that it's difficult to distinguish between owning and transporting digital currency. "In theory, a person always carries their digital currency—or the ability to transact their digital currency—with them, including as they cross a border," he wrote recently, adding that this is also the case with mobile banking and credit cards.
The bill may also open cryptocurrencies up to civil asset forefeiture, meaning that law enforcement could seize funds suspected of being tied to criminal activity.
Cryptocurrency enthusiasts are not, by and large, pleased. A Reddit post accusing Congress of "GOING FULL 1984 ON BITCOIN" and calling the bill's sponsors "certifiably insane" garnered 5,427 points in 11 days, with 90% upvotes. Cohn, in a more measured assessment, wrote, "Congress should consider the impacts of singling out virtual currency users, the majority of whom are not using virtual currency for illicit purposes. A better and more risk-based approach should strike a balance between discouraging illicit use while still encouraging innovation."http://www.investopedia.com
President Vladimir Putin has submitted to the State Duma for ratification the Council of Europe’s Convention on the confiscation of illegal funds and on countering the sponsorship of terrorism.
The bill to ratify the convention was prepared jointly by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian State Agency for Financial Monitoring.
According to the explanatory note attached to the document, which was published on the parliament’s official website on Tuesday, the convention regulates the powers and rights of law enforcement agents in the investigation of suspects’ bank accounts and operations, as well as the procedure of seizing illegal income. It also regulates cooperation between various departments of the Russian Financial Intelligence Service.
The note also reads that the ratification of the convention would improve the effectiveness of Russia’s cooperation with foreign nations in the fight against the legalization of criminal funds and sponsorship of terrorism.
The Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism was introduced in May 2005 and signed by Russia in January 2009. Earlier this month, the Russian government approved the document for ratification by parliament.
Russia strengthened its terrorism laws about a year ago, making international terrorism a separate crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as requiring up to 15 years in prison for anyone found guilty of financing terrorist groups. Attracting new recruits to a terrorist organization was also criminalized, and will be punishable by prison terms of between five and 10 years. Public calls for terrorism and public justification of terrorist crimes were also criminalized, punishable by up to seven years in prison.
The new bill also lowers the age threshold for terrorist crimes – such as terrorist attacks and hostage taking – to 14 years of age from the current 16. Presently, the age of majority in Russia is 16, with exceptions for crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, and others, in which the age of criminal responsibility is 14.
A widespread cyberattack apparently targeting Ukraine rippled across Europe on Tuesday and spread to computer systems of banks and major companies in Russia, Britain and elsewhere — mirroring a crippling ransomware assault a month ago.
Merck & Co., a U.S. pharmaceutical company, tweeted that its computer network "was compromised ... as part of the global hack." U.S.-based food giant Mondelēz International also reported a "global IT outage," telling CNBC that all of its phone lines were out because they're connected to its computer network.
The Ukrainian government's computer network went down in a campaign that Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman called "unprecedented." But "vital systems haven't been affected," he said.
Many security researchers initially linked the attack to ransomware known as Petya, which was previously advertised for sale on top-tier Russian criminal forums. But Kaspersky Lab, a leading Russian security software company, said Tuesday night that it was, in fact, "a new ransomware that has never been seen before."
"While it has several strings similar to Petya, it possesses entirely different functionality," said Kaspersky, which dubbed the malware "ExPetr" and "NotPetya."
A message on a cash machine for Ukraine's state-owned bank Oschadbank demanded $300 worth of Bitcoin — and taunted victims not to "waste your time" looking for another fix.
"If you see this text, then your files are no longer accessible, because they have been encrypted," the message read in English, according to an image taken by a Reuters photographer in Kiev. "Perhaps you are busy looking for a way to recover your files, but don't waste your time. Nobody can recover your files without our encryption service."
The message then went on to say how to pay the ransom in Bitcoin.
The German email provider Posteo told NBC News that it was able to cut off access to the email address provided in the ransom note before the problem became widely known. As a likely result, only about 32 ransom payments had been attempted by late Tuesday afternoon — not all of them successfully — totaling about US$8,000, according to the address' public account record.
The downside is that anyone who tries to pay can't get their files decrypted because the hackers have no way to communicate with victims to provide the decryption key.
Despite the Ukranian focus of the initial attack, researchers said they think that it's unlikely that the attack is state-sponsored.
"A state actor won't specifically use an exploit that is already distributed. It's not likely it's a state actor, more likely someone from a cybercrime organization," said Itay Glick, chief executive of the Israel-based cybersecurity firm Votiro.
The number of companies and agencies affected Tuesday was piling up quickly as the electronic rampage appeared to be snowballing into a real-world crisis:
-Operations were affected at the Chernobyl nuclear site in Ukraine, forcing some radiation checks to be carried out manually at the facility, which famously exploded in 1986.
-WPP, the world's biggest advertising agency, said it had been hit by a cyberattack.
-In Germany, the postal and logistics company Deutsche Post said systems of its Express division in the Ukraine had been disrupted.
-The global shipping company A.P. Moller-Maersk in Copenhagen, Denmark, said it had suffered a computer system outage also caused by a cyberattack.
-The Russian metals giant Evraz said its IT systems had been affected, as well, Russia's RIA news agency reported.
-In Ukraine, Yevhen Dykhne, director of Boryspil International Airport, east of Kiev, said it had been hit by a cyberattack. "In connection with the irregular situation, some flight delays are possible," Dykhne said on Facebook.
The initial point of attack appears to have exploited MeDoc, a Ukrainian accounting software package that is used by the Ukrainian government, said Paul Burbage, a malware researcher for Flashpoint Intelligence, which analyzes security issues for NBC News. Late Tuesday night, MeDoc acknowledged that there were reports that the software was used in the attack, but it stressed that its latest service pack update, dated June 22, wasn't infected.
Any computer that requested software updates from a compromised system could then silently receive the ransomware loader, Burbage said. That allowed the malware to jump rapidly from system to system, similar to how the worldwide "WannaCry" malware attack spread and affected about 300,000 computers in May.
But the new attack is far more sophisticated and robust, security analysts said, suggesting that experienced code experts were involved, possibly with third-party funding. According to a U.S. government security bulletin reviewed by NBC News, it uses methods that once came from a National Security Agency database of cyber exploits and is more difficult to defeat than WannaCry.
While WannaCry victims had to take action to download malicious software via email, Tuesday's victims became infected silently. That's because the payload was delivered when a computer or system simply requested software updates from a compromised system, Burbage said, a process that takes place automatically millions of times a day.
WannaCry was halted from spreading when a 22-year-old British security researcher named Marcus Hutchins created a so-called kill-switch that experts hailed as the decisive step in slowing its progress.
That malware "had all kinds of stupid bugs and issues," Kevin Beaumont, a respected British security architect and researcher, said Tuesday. "This has no kill switch, and it looks like they had a development budget."
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies strongly urged victims not to try to pay the ransom, which Europol warned only "proves to the cybercriminals that ransomware is effective."
"As a result, cybercriminals will continue their activity and look for new ways to exploit systems that result in more infections and more money on their accounts," it said.
Valencia, 23 June 2017 - Under the Spanish Presidency of Mr. Juan Manuel Vega-Serrano, the third Plenary meeting of Plenary year FATF-XXVIII was held.
Mr. Rafael Catalá, Minister of Justice of Spain, opened the meeting, and highlighted the important role of the FATF in tackling terrorist financing and money laundering
-Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, addressed the Plenary to highlight three of the Fund’s AML/CFT policy priorities
-Mr. Luis de Guindos, Minister of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness of Spain, addressed the FATF Heads of Delegation, highlighting the important priorities for FATF, including Fintech
The main issues dealt with by this Plenary were:
-Work on combating terrorist financing, which remains a priority for the FATF.
-Work on improving transparency and beneficial ownership.
-Adoption of the Report to the G20 Leaders’ Summit.
-Impact of recent FATF work on de-risking.
-Discussion of the mutual evaluation reports of Denmark and Ireland.
-Statement on Brazil’s progress in addressing the deficiencies identified in its mutual evaluation reports, since the FATF’s statement of February 2017.
-Two public documents identifying jurisdictions that may pose a risk to the international financial system;
--Jurisdictions with strategic anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) deficiencies for which a call for action applies, including an update on Iran’s engagement with FATF
--Jurisdictions with strategic AML/CFT deficiencies for which they have developed an action plan with the FATF, including an update on AML/CFT improvements in Afghanistan and Lao PDR
-Adoption of a revision to the interpretative note to Recommendation 7 (Targeted Financial Sanctions Related to Proliferation).
-Proposals to strengthen FATF’s institutional basis, governance and capacity.
-Outcomes of the meeting of the FATF Forum of Heads of Financial Intelligence Units that was held in the margins of the Plenary.
-Update on the activities of the FATF Training and Research Institute in Busan, Korea.
Valencia, 22 June 2017.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde addressed the FATF Plenary in Valencia on 22 June 2017.
In her speech she emphasized that both IMF and FATF are deeply committed to supporting countries in building defenses against money laundering and the financing of terrorism through the AML/CFT standards and that both organisations know that these global challenges cannot be resolved by countries working alone.
Ms. Lagarde stressed that this partnership is more important than ever, and highlighted three priorities to build on the progress made so far:
-Fighting corruption and tax evasion;
-Combating the financing of terrorism; and
-Maintaining correspondent banking relationships.
Brussels, 21 June 2017
The European Commission has today proposed tough new transparency rules for intermediaries - such as tax advisors, accountants, banks and lawyers - who design and promote tax planning schemes for their clients.
Recent media leaks such as the Panama Papers have exposed how some intermediaries actively assist companies and individuals to escape taxation, . Today's proposal aims to tackle such aggressive tax planning by increasing scrutiny around the previously-unseen activities of tax planners and advisers.
European Commission Vice-President Valdis , responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union said: "The EU has become the frontrunner when it comes to bringing more transparency to the world of aggressive tax planning. This work is already reaping results. Today we are proposing to hold responsible the go-betweens who create and sell tax avoidance schemes. Ultimately, this will result in greater tax revenues for Member States."
Pierre , Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs,said:“We are continuing to ramp up our tax transparency agenda. Today, we are setting our sights on the professionals who promote tax abuse. Tax administrations should have the information they need to thwart aggressive tax planning schemes. Our proposal will provide more certainty for those intermediaries who respect the spirit and the letter of our laws and make life very difficult for those that do not. Our work for fairer taxation throughout Europe continues to advance."
Cross-border tax planning schemes bearing certain characteristics or 'hallmarks' which can result in losses for governments will now have to be automatically reported to the tax authorities before they are used. The Commission has identified key hallmarks, including the use of losses to reduce tax liability, the use of special beneficial tax regimes, or arrangements through countries that do not meet international good governance standards.
The obligation to report a cross-border scheme bearing one or more of these hallmarks will be borne by:
-the intermediary who supplied the cross-border scheme for implementation and use by a company or an individual;
-the individual or company receiving the advice, when the intermediary providing the cross-border scheme is not based in the EU, or where the intermediary is bound by professional privilege or secrecy rules;
-the individual or company implementing the cross-border scheme when it is developed by in-house tax consultants or lawyers.
Member States will automatically exchange the information that they receive on the tax planning schemes through a centralised database, giving them early warning on new risks of avoidance and enabling them to take measures to block harmful arrangements. The requirement to report a scheme does not necessarily imply that it is harmful, only that it merits scrutiny by the tax authorities. However, Member States will be obliged to implement effective and dissuasive penalties for those companies that do not comply with the transparency measures, creating a powerful new deterrent for those that encourage or facilitate tax abuse.
The new rules are comprehensive, covering all intermediaries, all potentially harmful schemes and all Member States. Details of every tax scheme containing one or more hallmarks will have to be reported to the intermediary's home tax authority within five days of providing such an arrangement to a client.
The Juncker Commission has made great strides in boosting tax transparency and tackling tax evasion and avoidance. New EU rules to block , as well as new , and have already been agreed and are progressively entering into force. Proposals for stronger Anti-Money Laundering legislation, public Country-by-Country reporting requirements and tougher good governance rules for EU funds are currently being negotiated. In addition, a new EU list of non-cooperative tax jurisdictions should be ready before the end of the year.
Today's proposal will further reinforce the EU's tax transparency framework, by shedding new light on the activities of intermediaries and the tax planning arrangements being used. It will also ensure a harmonised EU approach to implementing the recommended mandatory disclosure provisions in the OECD's Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) project, as endorsed by the G20. Last October, Member States for a Commission proposal on these measures.
The proposal, which takes the form of an amendment to the Directive for Administration Cooperation (DAC), will be submitted to the European Parliament for consultation and to the Council for adoption. It is foreseen that the new reporting requirements would enter into force on 1 January 2019, with EU Member States obliged to exchange information every 3 months after that.
The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) received the green light from 20 EU countries last Thursday (8 June). But after an arduous negotiation process, several northern member states decided not to cooperate.
The EPPO, which will initially be staffed by members of Eurojust and Olaf, will focus on tackling the fraudulent use of European funds (mainly cohesion funds and Common Agricultural Policy payments) and cross-border VAT fraud.
VAT fraud costs the EU €50bn every year. But as the biggest revenue generator for all EU countries, VAT is a highly sensitive issue.
To avoid stepping on the toes of the member states’ national justice systems, the EPPO will only be called in to investigate cases worth more than €10m. The EU has no competence on national taxation.
EURACTIV has learned that Germany insisted on this threshold in return for its cooperation on policing VAT.
“Germany is always a difficult partner on fiscal matters, particularly to do with VAT,” a Commission source said.
For the EU executive, which is trying to complete an overhaul of the European VAT system by next September, German opposition is nothing new. Initiatives such as the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) and community VAT measures have been systematically obstructed by Berlin.
The Russian government has approved the Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism and recommended the document for ratification by the parliament.
The government statement that recommends President Vladimir Putin submit the convention to the State Duma for ratification was published on the cabinet’s website on Friday. The bill on ratification of the convention has been prepared jointly by the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian State Agency for Financial Monitoring.
The Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism was introduced in May 2005 and signed by Russia in January 2009. The explanatory note published by the government as an attachment to the bill on the ratification of the convention reads that, once ratified, the document would boost the effectiveness of cooperation between Russian and foreign agencies targeting terrorism and money laundering.
The convention is also expected to give additional impetus for international cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
Russia introduced the latest major package of anti-terrorist amendments to its legislation about a year ago, making international terrorism a separate crime punished with up to 10 years in prison, as well as ordering up to 15 years behind bars for anyone found guilty of financing terrorist groups.
Attracting new recruits to a terrorist organization was also criminalized, and will be punished with prison terms of between five and 10 years. Public calls for terrorism and public justification of terrorist crimes were also criminalized, with possible punishment of up to seven years in prison.
The new bill also lowered the age threshold for terrorist crimes, such as terrorist attacks and hostage taking, to 14 years of age from the current 16. Presently the age of minors in Russia is 16, with exceptions for crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping and several others, where the age of criminal responsibility is 14.
Most recent changes to the Russian anti-terrorist laws was made in late May this year when Putin signed into law the bill that introduced administrative surveillance for people who have committed terrorist crimes and have already served their sentences.
As a member of several international standards-setting bodies, in particular the Asia/Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), Labuan FSA is committed to combat any money laundering and terrorism financing activities in the Labuan International Business and Financial Centre (Labuan IBFC).
In relation to the recent news report that illegal proceeds obtained through fraudulent investment schemes are being kept in the financial centre to be used, among others, to support the political funds for certain parties in the country as well as being channelled to finance activities of militant groups, the Labuan FSA will not hesitate to take action against the relevant individuals or Labuan entities if they have breached the laws and regulations of the Labuan IBFC including relating to money laundering. Labuan FSA would like to affirm that the strict regulatory and supervisory regime, including the prohibition of cash transactions in the centre;
The application of the Anti-Money Laundering and Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act and anti-money laundering rules and procedures on the financial institutions in Labuan are implemented and has preserved the integrity and reputation of the centre and ensuring that only genuine business activities are conducted in Labuan IBFC.
In addition, as part of the National Coordination Committee (NCC) to counter money laundering, Labuan FSA will continue to engage and/or cooperate with other regulatory bodies through various networks involving supervision, enforcement and sharing of information in investigating any activities relating to money laundering at the national and Labuan IBFC levels.
June 2017-Press Release
Europol’s European Migrant Smuggling Centre, as part of the tasks emerging from the Malta Declaration and associated Implementation Plan, organised an expert meeting focusing on cooperation and information exchange in tackling migrant smuggling networks operating from source and transit countries, with a specific focus on North Africa and the Central Mediterranean route.
The meeting brought together representatives from the (Immigration) Liaison Officers’ support units from 17 EU Member States as well as the European Commission.
In line with the most recent policy documents, the discussions focused on better exploiting and fine tuning existing resources and mechanisms, such as the bilateral (immigration) liaison officers already deployed in third countries and regional cooperation platforms.
The debates were enhanced by the contributions delivered by, among others, experts from the European Commission highlighting the dynamics of the political developments in the field as well as indicating its future plans. Europol’s new legal framework and the opportunities for cooperation and information exchange also featured, as did the state of play on Europol’s implementation of the objectives of the Malta Declaration.
Specialists currently deployed as Liaison Officers – Spanish Attaché in Libya and UK Liaison Officer in the Netherlands – provided the audience with examples of hands-on best practice and a practical approach to information exchange and cooperation.
Throughout the event it transpired that effective action in this field is heavily dependent on greater cooperation among origin, transit and destination countries, as well as on swift information exchange between law enforcement partners and EU Agencies. Migrant smuggling represents an ideal opportunity for national resources already invested by the Member States in fostering cooperation with the source and transit countries, to successfully balance the collective efforts undertaken by the EU to tackle this rapidly developing phenomenon.
All participants concluded that migrant smuggling cannot be dealt in isolation; it requires a multidisciplinary approach and concentrated efforts from all relevant stakeholders.
14 June 2017-Press Release
Between 5 and 9 June, 6 suspects were arrested and 36 were interviewed during an internationally coordinated operation in 6 European countries. The targets are all suspected customers of a counter anti-virus platform and crypter service - two cybercriminal tools used for testing and clouding of malware samples to prevent security software solutions from recognising them as malicious.
The operation, codenamed Neuland, was led by the Kriminalinspektion Mayen (DE) with the support of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) and the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT), a specialised group of cyber investigators at EC3.
The first phase of the operation, also supported by Europol, was executed on 5 April 2016 and targeted the suspects behind a counter anti-virus and a crypter service, as well as the German customers of the two tools, through a large-scale coordinated action in all state criminal police offices in Germany.
The second phase of this operation, from 5 to 9 June 2017, specifically targeted the international customers of the same two services. The following countries participated in this phase: Cyprus, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and the United Kingdom. Police officers searched 20 houses and 6 suspects were arrested, while 36 additional suspects have been interviewed so far. A large number of devices have also been seized.
Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre provided extensive support for secure information exchange, the preparation of the target packages per country, and in-depth malware analysis. Several operational coordination meetings and conference calls were also organised to facilitate operational coordination and deconfliction. This case is an excellent example of how local police forces can benefit from cooperating with Europol to execute impactful nationwide and international actions against cybercriminals.
Trends in Europol’s IOCTA
In last year’s Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA), Europol already warned about the increasing misuse of legitimate anonymity and encryption services and tools for illegal purposes to avoid detection, investigation and prosecution by the authorities.
This case also illustrates the Crime-as-a-Service model, as the services were offered to the criminals online. A third mention from the IOCTA relates to young individuals who may choose to follow the pathways into cybercrime by procuring cybercriminal tools online and conducting criminal activities online. In this case, the average age of all the suspects in the first phase was only 23 years old.
Nigeria has been picked to host the 8th regional conference of anti-corruption agencies in Commonwealth Africa in 2018, according to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, said on Thursday that the decision was taken at the 7th edition of the conference held in Malawi on June 2.
In addition, the EFCC Acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has been appointed vice chairman of the executive committee of the association.
These are some of the outcomes of five days of intense deliberation by the anti-graft chiefs, Uwujaren said.
According to him, the conference featured a review of the progress of anti-corruption campaigns in African member states of the commonwealth.
In a communiqué, the participants emphasised the need for “a platform for sharing emerging practices and country innovation in the fight against corruption to enhance good governance.”
They also urged the agencies to create a platform for intelligence and data sharing for effective asset recovery.
The agencies were also encouraged to continue with benchmarking visits to maintain learning and sharing of ideas and experience.
The conference further stressed the need for members to expand the network with other sectors, including the African Union Advisory Board on Corruption, civil society, media and the private sector to enhance the anti-corruption war.
Other issues that engaged the attention of participants included the need for the agencies to deepen innovation for prevention education and investigation in the fight against corruption.
They were urged to consider implementing “Whistle blower legislation for effective protection of whistleblowers”.
Furthermore, the conference called on member countries to continue to support the anti-corruption agencies with adequate funding and capacity development for effective performance.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that there are 19 African countries in the Commonwealth, which is an intergovernmental organisation of 52 member states that are mostly former colonies of Britain. (NAN)
BIS Press Release - The Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has finalised its revisions to the annex on correspondent banking.
These revisions are included in a new release of the guidelines on the Sound management of risks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism, which was first published in January 2014, with a first revised version issued in February 2016.
The revisions are consistent with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidance on Correspondent banking services issued in October 2016 and serve the same objective of clarifying rules applicable to banks conducting correspondent banking activities. They form part of a broader initiative of the international community to assess and address the decline in correspondent banking coordinated by the Financial Stability Board.
The text includes proposed revisions to annexes 2 (Correspondent banking) and 4 (General guide to account opening) of the Basel Committee's guidelines on the Sound management of risks related to money laundering and financing of terrorism. The revisions guide the banks in the application of the risk-based approach for correspondent banking relationships, recognising that not all correspondent banking relationships bear the same level of risk and including an updated list of risk indicators that correspondent banks should consider in their risk assessment.
A consultative version - Revisions to the annex on correspondent banking - was issued in November 2016. The Basel Committee wishes to thank all those who took the trouble to express their views during the consultation process.
ATHENS, Greece - An international counter-terrorism meeting has been held in Athens under the auspices of INTERPOL’s Project Nexus to review regional and global trends on the activities and movement of returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs).
The three-day (6 – 8 June) INTERPOL Project Nexus Working Group Meeting on Foreign Terrorist Fighters gathered more than 60 representatives from the counter-terrorism units of 32 countries from Europe and the Mediterranean.
Co-hosted by the Greek Police and INTERPOL, the meeting was part of INTERPOL’s global counter-terrorism strategy which focuses on assisting INTERPOL member countries in targeted regions to contain and disrupt transnational terrorist activities, including by addressing information gaps.
“Today, ‘jihadist terrorism’ is a destabilizing factor for both domestic and international security. Recent attacks in Europe and elsewhere have demonstrated clearly that terrorism knows no borders and constitutes an ever-increasing hazard to human life,” said Brigadier General Ilias Xanthakis, Head of Greece’s International Police Cooperation Directorate.
“A far-reaching, effective fight against terrorism requires us to pursue, extend and strengthen our efforts and cooperation, both at bilateral but mostly in multilateral level,” added Brigadier General Xanthakis.
During the meeting the country representatives shared relevant experiences and recent case studies related to the FTF threat landscape in the Mediterranean, the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
"In line with its global counter-terrorism strategy, and through a better understanding of the modus operandi of FTFs, INTERPOL is stepping up its efforts in assisting member countries combat terrorist threats, especially in the area of FTF identification and travel route analysis,” said Karel Pelan, Assistant Director of INTERPOL’s Counter-Terrorism unit.
Project Nexus is funded by the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World.
OTTAWA, Canada - Global cooperation between national asset recovery agencies to better fight corruption and financial crime was the focus of the 7th Annual INTERPOL-StAR Global Focal Points Conference on Asset Recovery in Ottawa.
More than 120 anti-corruption investigators and prosecutors from some 50 countries attended the three-day (6 – 8 June) meeting, organized by INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes unit and the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) – a partnership between the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), in cooperation with the United States Department of State.
Hosted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the conference provided an opportunity for participants – who are designated national ‘focal points’ for asset recovery investigations in their countries – to review international trends and developments in the field, and to continue building relationships to enhance international cooperation in future asset recovery cases.
RCMP Assistant Commissioner Paula Dionne said: “The current policing environment is complex and fast-changing. Technology continuously alters the landscape, and crimes are no longer restricted by borders. This is especially true for financial crimes. Now, more than ever, our partnerships at the international level are essential.”
Discussions at the conference focused on operational issues related to asset recovery, using examples of recent international cases to highlight challenges and possible solutions, as well as on tracing stolen assets and establishing mechanisms and systems for the effective management and disposal of recovered assets.
StAR Senior Legal Adviser Shervin Majlessi said: "The World Bank/UNODC Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative works with a growing number of regional and multilateral organizations to foster greater international cooperation on cases, policy, and general approaches to asset recovery. Our partnership with INTERPOL has contributed to the creation of an unique network of asset recovery practitioners across the globe which has steadily grown over the past nine years."
To improve communication among the anti-corruption community, the INTERPOL Secure Communications for Asset Recovery (I-SECOM) was launched in 2013. The secure, web-based e-mail system enables asset recovery practitioners to instantly and securely exchange information to support transnational investigations.
The platform is accessible via INTERPOL’s I-24/7 global police communication network and allows members to exchange sensitive information from their investigations and respond to the immediate needs for assistance from other member countries on asset freezing, seizing, confiscation, and the recovery of stolen assets.
"More than in other crime areas, anti-corruption and financial investigations require international cooperation that is built on trust as well as specific legal and practical knowledge. The INTERPOL-StAR Global Focal Platform provides these skills to practitioners and enables them to coordinate via a global network," said Sebastian Bley, Coordinator of INTERPOL’s Anti-Corruption unit.
Launched in 2009, INTERPOL’s Global Focal Point Platform on Asset Recovery was established jointly with StAR, with the aim of assisting practitioners overcome operational barriers associated with international asset recovery. The platform currently has 224 dedicated Focal Points nominated from national law enforcement agencies, judicial and administrative authorities, representing 129 countries.
Capitalizing on the INTERPOL-StAR event, the Crimjust project hosted on 9 June in Ottawa the first Experts Working Group Meeting on Integrating Asset Recovery in Organized Crime Investigations.
Its main objective was to review the different national legislations, rules and procedures governing asset recovery as well as operational models. The meeting also provided an opportunity to establish direct working relationships and facilitate the exchange of knowledge, thereby enhancing interregional cooperation on asset recovery in organized crime in general and cocaine trafficking in particular.
The Crimjust project is an initiative funded by the European Union under the umbrella of its Cocaine Route Programme and is implemented by the UNODC in partnership with INTERPOL and Transparency International.
The agreement signed in Bangkok this week means Australia is now working in tandem with Thailand, Singapore, and China on tackling cybercrime in the Asia Pacific region.
Australia is intensifying co-operation with Thailand on cybercrime in a bid to boost regional commercial security. In Bangkok on an official visit with senior leadership of the Thai Royal Police, Australia's first Ambassador for Cybercrime Tobias Feakin signed an agreement with Thailand that will see the two countries work together in the face of growing challenges posed by cybercriminal networks in Asia.
"Criminals and nefarious actors can adapt and absorb all [this information] so much quicker than governments," Feakin told AAP. "So if we're not talking about it, sharing best practice, and keeping on the move as well, then we will soon find ourselves behind by quite a margin."
Australia will also provide support in "cybercrime digital forensic development" to the Thai Royal Police, national security, and foreign affairs officials. It already co-operates with Thailand through the Royal Thai Police and Office of Narcotics Control Board, based on threats by transnational criminals, including Australian biker gangs linked to drug trafficking.
Thailand is also a base for securities fraud operators, known as boiler room share scam, where foreign expatriates, including those from the UK and the US, target Australia and New Zealand investors scamming thousands of dollars in fake online investments.
Feakin said co-operation was directed to "upskilling the digital forensics capability of the Royal Thai Police" to ensure evidence was credible when presented at court.
"To get the evidence, how you secure it, to a degree that it is admissible in a court and then, what is your investigative processes to actually try and fine the individual or group who may be responsible," he said.
Officials told AAP that support to Thai police was a "cornerstone of digital forensics about capturing electronic evidence on various devices, how to process and extract data" in the wake of what it called increasingly transnational crime investigations centred on the use of digital media for communications and the storing of information by organised crime gangs.
The agreement with Thailand comes after the recent signing of a pact between Australia and Singapore on cybersecurity, which includes the exchange of information, training, and joint exercises in safeguarding critical information infrastructure.
The two countries signed a memorandum of understanding on Friday during the second Singapore-Australia Leaders' Summit in the city-state, which was witnessed by both prime ministers -- Singapore's Lee Hsien Loong and Australia's Malcolm Turnbull.
The two-year agreement -- led by Singapore's Cyber Security Agency -- will see the countries work together on several key areas, including information exchange on cybersecurity incidents and threats, sharing of best practices to drive cybersecurity innovation, and training in relevant skillsets.
Australia agreed to enhanced cybersecurity cooperation with China in April, which will see neither country conduct or support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or confidential business information with the intent of obtaining competitive advantage against each other.
Both countries also agreed to act in accordance with the reports of the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on cyber, including the norms of responsible state behaviour in cyberspace identified by those reports, a statement from Turnbull said.
In addition, the two countries agreed to establish a "mechanism" to discuss cybersecurity and cyber crime issues, in a bid to prevent cyber incidents that could create problems between Australia and China.
"What you saw through the agreement that we signed with China was an acknowledgement that it needs to be a key part of discussions together," Feakin said this week. "China is a huge economic partner. There are some [similarities], there are some differences."
"[The fact] that we got to a point of signing an agreement which said we agree to not conduct cyber-enabled intellectual property theft -- I think it's a good point."
The Australia-China cyber cooperation arrangement follows a meeting between Turnbull and Premier Li Keqiang during the latter's visit to Australia in March, which raised cyber-enabled intellectual property theft issues.
The March meetings included the establishment of a memorandum of understanding on intellectual property that was signed between the State Intellectual Property Office of the People's Republic of China and IP Australia.
The Australian government also signed a formal "Dialogue on Innovation" agreement with China in March that will see both countries exchange ideas between government representatives, business, and the research sector.
Under the arrangement, both countries will contribute up to AU$6 million over three years to the next round of the Joint Research Centres, under the Australia-China Science and Research Fund (ACSRF), which supports strategic science, technology, and innovation collaboration considered of mutual benefit to both countries.
It is expected the funding will focus mainly on advanced manufacturing, medical technologies and pharmaceuticals, and resources and energy.
Similarly, Australia signed a treaty-level Science, Research, and Innovation Cooperation Agreement with the New Zealand government in February that will see the countries work together to tackle chronic disease, advance general health care, and improve the accuracy and availability of GPS signals.
FATF - Public
The FATF will meet for six days of meetings to discuss important issues to protect the integrity of the global financial system and contribute to safety and security. Hosted by the Spanish Government in the city of Valencia, the meetings will involve over 800 delegates from the 198 jurisdictions of the FATF Global Network, as well as the UN, IMF, World Bank and other partners.
The week’s meetings will end with the third and last Plenary meeting under the Spanish Presidency of Juan Manuel Vega-Serrano on 21-23 June. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde will deliver keynote remarks to the Plenary on 22 June. During the three-day meeting, delegates will work through a full agenda that includes among other issues:
Counter terrorist financing: We will continue to update our knowledge on ISIL/Da’ech’ financing strategy. We will review progress in two projects to identify challenges and best practices in information sharing, an important element of effective counter-terrorist financing measures and consider the progress in the implementation of the FATF’s operational plan to tackle all sources, techniques and channels of terrorist financing.
Transparency and beneficial ownership: We will discuss progress in FATF’s comprehensive programme of work to prevent the abuse of companies and trusts for criminality and terrorism, which includes collaboration with the OECD Global Forum on Tax to ensure consistency of respective peer review processes.
Financial inclusion: We will discuss how countries can apply financial inclusion measures, including simplified customer due diligence and digital financial inclusion initiatives, in order to enable wider access to financial services by under-served people and communities. Building on previous FATF guidance on financial inclusion, we will identify models that ensure sound AML/CFT controls are compatible with the goal of making financial services accessible and available to all.
Ireland and Denmark: We will review the mutual evaluations of Ireland and Denmark and the effectiveness of their efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing. We will review the actions that Spain has taken to address the deficiencies identified in their 2015 mutual evaluation report, the first during the current round of assessment, and we will review progress by countries with outstanding deficiencies from the last round of evaluations, such as Brazil and South Africa. We will discuss and update our statements identifying high-risk and non-cooperative jurisdictions. FATF will consider recent development concerning de-risking, including access to banking services by the remittance sector, and identify areas where further FATF action or co-ordination is required. FATF Heads of Financial Intelligence Units will discuss how to improve the effectiveness of suspicious transaction reporting regimes.
-China asks banks to report daily overseas transactions on all Chinese bank cards from Sept.1.
-Cites need to fight money laundering, terrorist financing, tax avoidance.
-Reported information to include overseas withdrawals, bank transaction exceeding 1,000 yuan each.
BEIJING, (Reuters) - China will strengthen regulatory oversight of overseas transactions on Chinese bank cards, as it fight money laundering, terrorist financing and tax avoidance, its foreign exchange regulator said on Friday.
From Sept. 1, Chinese banks will be required to report daily their bank card holders' overseas withdrawals, plus every bank transaction that exceeds 1,000 yuan($146.7), the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said in a notice Under previous rules, China only measured the total amount of overseas transactions on Chinese bank cards.
"Statistics on cross-border transactions need to be improved in terms of trading transparency and data quality, as there are more requirements to fight money laundering, anti-terrorist financing and tax avoidance in global cooperations," the SAFE said.
Chinese authorities have been cracking down on underground banks, which have been accused of being a major channel used for money laundering and illegal cross-border transfer of funds. Last year, Chinese police busted more than 380 underground banks, involving more than 900 billion yuan, and arrested more than 800 suspects, according to the Ministry of Public Security.
Transactions made by Chinese bank card holders overseas exceeded $120 billion in 2016, raising the need to "improve statistics quality and maintain trading order", SAFE said. It added that it will continue to support legitimate use of bank cards overseas and the new rules don't change China's foreign exchange management policy.
The rules will be applied to all kinds of Chinese bank cards, including debit and credit cards. The stepped up regulatory interest in overseas account activities coincided with a clampdown on capital outflows, as authorities sought to relieve downward pressure on the yuan currency and stop the depletion of China's foreign exchange reserves. China tightened its grip on moving funds out of the country late last year with a flurry of curbs as the yuan fell to eight-year lows.
Capital outflows have since ebbed in recent months, but some analysts say there are signs of an uptick in the second quarter.
French investment bank Natixis said in a Monday report its capital flow tracker for China shows capital outflows for the second quarter will rise somewhat, reversing the recovery in the first quarter. Banks' compliance of the rules will be measured as part of their foreign exchange management assessment, and failures to comply will result in "regulatory measures and punishment" according to the law, SAFE said.
The Turks and Caicos Islands is gearing up to complete its first money laundering and terrorist financing National Risk Assessment this June.
About 50 stakeholders and representatives from both the public and private sectors convened for a two-day workshop at the Blue Haven Resort in Providenciales.
The workshop aimed at putting together comprehensive action plans to decrease the levels of risks, and strengthen controls and supervisory oversight in each sector.
Attorney General Rhondalee Braithwaite Knowles OBE, chair of the national Anti-Money Laundering Committee, announced the launch of the National Risk Assessment. She said: "This is a major initiative here in the Turks and Caicos Islands which will enable us to develop an effective framework to prevent money laundering and combat terrorist financing.”
World Bank experts Emily Adeleke and Roberto Biel led the various workshop sessions which took place on June 26 and 27 with a closed half day workshop for policy makers on June 28. The initial phase began in October 2014, with a workshop which identified the approach to gathering supporting data.
A global phenomenon
Understanding the money laundering and terrorist financing risks is crucial to developing and implementing national anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime. The June workshop was being run in line with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations where each country assesses its own money laundering and terrorist financing risks.
With increasing globalisation and liberalisation, money laundering and terrorist financing have become a global phenomenon.They pose real and significant threats to nations, their people, their financial systems and their security apparatus, no matter the makeup of the economy or the size of the country.
All nations, particularly small and developing jurisdictions are susceptible to disruption from criminal and terrorist activities. Corruption, money laundering and its associated economic and financial crimes tend to impact and undermine good governance and rule of law, which are core values of regional constitutions.
A risk assessment allows countries to identify, assess and understand its money laundering and terrorist financing risks. Once these risks are properly understood, countries can apply AML/CFT measures that correspond to the level of risk.
The risk-based approach, which is central to the FATF recommendations, enables countries to prioritise their resources and allocate them efficiently.
The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) has blacklisted countries such as Guyana for failing to approve legislation to combat money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism. The CFATF pursues the objective of achieving effective compliance with and implementation of the FATF standards to prevent and control money laundering and to combat the financing of terrorism.
In that regard, the Anti-Money Laundering Committee in conjunction with the CFATF are preparing the national framework for the upcoming fourth mutual evaluation of the AML/CFT system of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The FATF 40 recommendations are widely accepted as one of the most useful international countermeasures designed against money laundering and terrorist financing: their implementation increase transparency and enable countries to successfully take action against illicit use of their financial system.
Countries have diverse legal, administrative and operational frameworks and different financial systems, and so cannot all take identical measures to counter these threats. The FATF recommendations, therefore, set an international standard, which countries should implement through measures adapted to their particular circumstances.
SINGAPORE - An INTERPOL-coordinated operation targeting drug trafficking across Asia and the Pacific has identified emerging smuggling routes and concealment methods.
Operation Lionfish – ASEAN, which involved more than 2,000 police and customs officials across 14 countries, revealed a network of West African and Asian organized crime groups behind trafficking in methamphetamine – one of the most smuggled drugs in the region.
Of the 59 seizures reported so far, nearly a quarter were methamphetamine – totalling approximately 121kg, of which 94 kg was crystalline, known as ‘Ice’.
In total some 350 kg, 50 litres and 2,175 tablets of illicit drugs including cocaine, cannabis, heroin and amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS) worth an estimated USD 18 million were seized during the two-week operation.
In one case, following the discovery of nearly 9 kg of methamphetamine hidden inside a consignment of soft toys, a controlled delivery coordinated by law enforcement in the two countries resulted in the arrest of 13 individuals – seven from various African countries, two Mongolian nationals and four Chinese nationals.
During the first week of the operation, authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) identified an increasing trend of liquid cocaine being trafficked. Smugglers would swallow condoms packed with liquid cocaine but unlike other drugs, this type of concealment is harder to detect by traditional x-ray or computed tomography imagery.
At the request of the UAE, an INTERPOL Purple Notice has been issued to all 190 member countries outlining this modus operandi and methods for detection.
Many of the arrests made during Operation Lionfish – ASEAN resulted from specific intelligence-sharing, which helped identify a cocaine trafficking route via Ethiopia to destinations in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific.
“Operation Lionfish – ASEAN marks a new beginning in our approach to combating illicit drug smuggling through airports in the region. It shows the importance of timely information exchange and it is through such a platform that participating countries come together as one strong force, acting in unison,” said Abdul Halim Rahman, Senior Officer-In-Charge of the Central Narcotics Bureau at Changi Airport in Singapore.
An Operational Coordination Unit at the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation in Singapore, was the hub for Lionfish – ASEAN activities, bringing together representatives from the involved countries and the World Customs Organization. Strong support was also provided by INTERPOL National Central Bureaus in the Americas and Africa.
“Operation Lionfish has served as an example of countries cooperating to serve society on both a national and international level. We can do more when we work together,” said Superintendent Efren L Fernandez II, Director of Operations at the Philippine Center on Transnational Crime.
With drug trafficking often facilitated by ‘internal’ contacts in the aviation and maritime areas, a baggage handler in Nigeria was arrested for attempting to import illicit substances.
“It was a great honour for Malaysia to participate in this operation, where full cooperation and the sharing of vital information with other countries showed significant benefits in combating drug trafficking,” said M Navamany M Rethnam, Assistant Superintendent with the Royal Malaysia Police.
Other illicit goods were also seized during the operation including in Vietnam where authorities stopped an Angolan national who had hidden ivory inside frozen salmon.
This first two-week (1 – 14 May) leg of the operation focused specifically on airports with a second phase to target land and sea borders.
Operation Lionfish – ASEAN was conducted under the umbrella of INTERPOL’s Project AMEAP (Africa-Middle East-Asia Pacific), supported by funding from the UAE via the INTERPOL Foundation for a Safer World.
A five-year project, AMEAP provides a coordination platform for a range of anti-drug trafficking initiatives either led by, or involving, INTERPOL including;
-Interflow - aimed at helping police forces detect, identify and arrest drug traffickers across Africa;
-CRIMJUST - managed jointly with the UNODC and Transparency International and funded by the European Union to strengthen criminal investigations and cooperation along cocaine routes in Latin America, the Caribbean and West Africa;
-Airport Communication Project (AIRCOP) - funded under the European Union Cocaine Route Programme aimed at fighting illicit trafficking and transnational organized crime.
Operation Lionfish – ASEAN was supported by law enforcement from the 10 ASEAN countries Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam as well as Australia, Brazil, China, Hong Kong (China), Qatar, Togo and the United Arab Emirates.
The Central Bank said it identified 12 occasions where the bank failed to enforce rules to combat money laundering and financing terrorism over three years from 2010.
The regulator said there were significant weaknesses and failures in Bank of Ireland's controls, policies and procedures.
The Central Bank's director of enforcement Derville Rowland said: "Such behaviour is unacceptable and falls far short of the standard expected of one of Ireland's largest retail banks.
"Reporting suspicious transactions to the authorities without delay is a fundamental component of an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing framework.
"It is particularly disappointing that another large retail bank failed to submit six time-critical suspicious transaction reports to An Garda Siochana and the Revenue Commissioners promptly."
Bank of Ireland were fined 3.15m euro after admitting failures in risk assessment, failing to make six suspicious transaction reports as soon as possible and failing to carry out enhanced due diligence on a correspondent bank outside the EU.
Allied Irish Banks was fined 2.3 million euro last month following a separate investigation into similar issues.
Bank of Ireland said it takes its regulatory obligations seriously and regrets that these issues arose.
"The bank has co-operated fully with the Central Bank throughout this investigation and has completed a comprehensive multi-year programme of work to anticipate future legislative requirements while also addressing these issues," it said.
HMRC set to receive first data on undisclosed assets in global transparency drive
A stash of financial data about Britons living abroad is set to be handed to Revenue & Customs this week as part of a global transparency drive sweeping through the world’s financial centers.
Thousands of expats with undeclared savings accounts are potentially at risk of penalties once the information is transferred to the country where they live in September, according to experts.
The information transfer is part of a global initiative that is aimed at flushing out tax evaders but might also pose a threat to people who had not intentionally dodged their tax obligations, advisers said. Some British expatriates wrongly thought that if they complied with UK tax rules, they would not have to declare their income in the countries where they lived. In most countries, however, people are taxed on their worldwide income, gains and, in some cases, wealth.
Jason Porter, a director of Blevin Francks, a financial planning firm, said there was a particular problem with individual savings accounts (Isas), which were taxable abroad even though they were tax-exempt in Britain. “A lot of people who leave the UK look at their Isa accounts and still think they are tax-efficient.”
Mr. Porter said anyone with undisclosed assets should seek advice about coming forward voluntarily, which was likely to result in reduced penalties. But he warned that some countries imposed heavy fines, citing the case of Spain where “horrific” penalties for non-declaration could exceed the value of the assets.
In 2015, a pensioner living in Granada appealed to the European Court of Justice after he was ordered to pay more than €442,000 in interest, fines and other costs, following a late disclosure of €340,000 of stocks and cash in Switzerland.
The European Commission has told Spain that its fines for failure to comply with an asset reporting rule it introduced in 2013 are disproportionate. Banks, building societies, insurance companies and investment companies are required to provide HMRC with data about their overseas clients’ accounts — including balances — before Thursday. Similar deadlines apply in other countries which are taking part in the first wave of data exchanges under the transparency initiative known as the Common Reporting Standard (CRS).The US is not part of the CRS area, although it requires foreign banks to divulge information about its citizens’ bank accounts under rules known as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
A first wave of 50 “early adopter” jurisdictions will make the first exchange of data relating to accounts holding more than $1m by September 2017. They include most European countries, the Crown Dependencies and overseas territories. Smaller accounts and those based in another 50 jurisdictions, including Switzerland, Monaco and Singapore, will begin to be exchanged in September 2018. Information will flow in both directions and HMRC will receive potentially valuable information from states such as Luxembourg, Malta and Cyprus in September.
It has already received financial data from the Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories. Jason Collins of Pinsent Masons, professional services firm, said the information exchange was just one aspect of a recent surge in cross-border collaboration. He said that HMRC might benefit from the influx of financial data, even in cases where individuals had not sought to hide their money. Some complicated structures would turn out not to be compliant, he said. “Sometimes people kid themselves that something is legitimate when it is not.”
Mr. Collins said some tax evaders would try to sidestep the reporting rules. “Hardened evaders will keep on running the gauntlet rather than give a large slice of their assets to the taxman.” Earlier this month, the G7 group of leading nations called for a push to counter arrangements designed to get around the new reporting rules.
Inquiries from overseas prosecutors to their British counterparts about cybercrime have soared, underscoring the vital role the UK plays for investigators and criminals alike.
The number of so-called Mutual Legal Assistance requests from foreign authorities to the UK relating to cybercrime jumped by 12 per cent in 2016, to 1,855, according to Home Office statistics gleaned through a Freedom of Information request.
There has also been more than a fourfold jump in such MLA requests since 2013, the statistics show.
Cybercrime was defined in the data to include both fraud and online attacks such as hacking.
Thomson Reuters, which gathered the data from the Home Office, said the increase reflected wider trends in cybercrime.
As one of the world’s key financial centres, London is an attractive potential money-laundering centre for the ill-gotten gains of cybercrime, which British authorities have sought to combat.
The UK’s National Crime Agency, which targets cyber criminals, arrested 14 people in late 2016 on suspicion of laundering £11m for a gang based in eastern Europe. The gang allegedly used so-called malware to target online banking details, siphoning smaller amounts from victims’ accounts to other banks, both in the UK and Europe.
The fresh MLA statistics are revealed in the wake of last week’s WannaCry ransom attack, which swept around the world to hit 200,000 computers across 150 countries. Hackers used cyber weapons stolen from the US National Security Agency to strike organisations across the globe on Friday, from the UK’s National Health Service to European telecoms company Telefónica and FedEx of the US.
The NCA confirmed earlier this week that it was investigating that attack along with the National Cyber Security Centre and other authorities, both in the UK and overseas.
In the attack, cyber criminals used so-called ransomware, software installed maliciously that encrypts files on infected machines’ hard drives and demands payment to release the data again.
While Europol, the European inter-police agency, has said the spread of the virus has stalled in mainland Europe, intelligence and law-enforcement officials fear similar new attacks, as criminals and others race to make use of digital weapons that for years were only available to the most technologically sophisticated nation states.
Thomson Reuters cautioned that the UK’s departure from the European Union might threaten the increasing collaboration among countries on fighting cybercrime in the future. Leaving the EU may also affect the MLA framework, it said.
“Withdrawing from international legal and enforcement agreements and cyber security standards in the post-Brexit UK could be on of the serious challenges posed for both businesses and the law-enforcement agencies,” said Morag Rea, head of business crime and investigations at Thomson Reuters.
The event was attended by delegations of EAG member states: Belarus, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, as well as representatives of the EAG observer states and organizations Armenia, France, Iran, Italy, Korea, Mongolia, Montenegro, Poland, Serbia, Turkey, USA, FATF, APG, MENAFATF, Egmont Group, Asian Development Bank, Anti-Terrorist Center of the Commonwealth of Independent States (ATC CIS), Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), Eurasian Development Bank (EABD), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), United Nations Counter Terrorism Committee (UN CTC), the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (represented by RATS SCO).
The EAG Chairman Mr. Yuri Chikhanchin (Russia) chaired the Plenary Session. Mr. Zhenish Razakov, Vice Prime Minister of the Kyrgyz Republic has addressed the EAG Plenary meeting.
The Plenary discussed the ISIS-related issues and calls on the member-states to step up their effort to fight the ISIS financing and to effectively implement the relevant UN SC Resolutions.
The Plenary week hosted the Joint EAG / ATC CIS / ITMCFM Workshop in Cooperation with UN CTED on the Exchange of Experience on Detection of Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Application of Targeted Financial Sanctions attended by the experts from the EAG, CIS, Australia, the UK, Canada, France, Belgium, the UN SC 1267 Committee Monitoring Team, and UN CTC. A final report on the workshop will be published at the EAG website.
The plenary approved the following documents:
-the final report on the FTF’s unified financial profile in the EAG area, which makes the identification of the TF-related facts much more effective;
-the reference book the list of information of interest to the FIU and operational bodies conducting joint (international) investigations;
-the list of typology research projects;
-changes to the schedule of the EAG 2nd round of mutual evaluations;
-the EAG Budget for 2018.
The Plenary will continue preparing for the 2nd round of mutual evaluations and workshops on best practice in implementing AML/CFT/PF standards.
The Plenary noted:
-The important role and efforts of the ITMCFM in preparation for the 2nd round of mutual evaluations and personnel training in the AML/CFT sphere;
-The high importance of the EAG experts’ participation in the UN CTC assessment missions and of rendering technical assistance to the EAG membership as recommended by the UN CTC following the missions;
-The importance of joint work on sharing experience to combat TF and FTF financing.
In this regard the Plenary recommends to the ITMCFM to consider the possibility of increasing the amount of technical assistance in these directions taking into consideration the capacity of the financial monitoring training centers of other EAG member states and other EAG donors.
The EAG Member States provided detailed information on the changes introduced to their national AML/CFT legislation, and the NRA-related progress, which clearly demonstrated the active effort taken to reinforce the AML systems focusing on effectiveness. The Plenary approved the technical amendments to the 11th FR of the Republic of Tajikistan on exiting the EAG follow-up process (2014) introduced for aligning the document with the unified format.
The International Training and Methodology Center of Rosfinmonitoring (ITMCFM, Russia) informed the Plenary on the TA project for the EAG membership; the Network Institute presented AML/CFT training experience including several diploma (graduate) theses. The Plenary approved amendments to the following documents:
Procedures of the 2nd round of mutual evaluations; Handbook for the countries and experts; Regulation on the recruitment procedure to fill the EAG Secretariat vacancies; Regulation on the EAG Special Commission of the EAG Member-state representatives to recruit and fill the vacancies of the EAG Executive Secretary and the EAG Secretariat employees; Regulation on the contest for the best example of AML/CFT cooperation between government agencies of EAG member-states; Information-submitting form on the national AML/CFT legislation, national risk assessment, and on technical compliance; EAG financial documents.
The Plenary expressed gratitude to the Kyrgyz Republic for the warm hospitality and excellent organization of the 26th EAG Plenary Meeting and Meeting of the Working groups.
The 27th EAG Plenary Meeting will take place in November 2017, in Moscow, Russian Federation.
USA - The 13th annual International Association for Intelligence Education conference ended Wednesday afternoon in Charles Town.
During the three-day event, attendees from nine nations heard key note addresses and presentations by spy catchers, spy trackers, intelligence analysts, law enforcement officials and instructors of intelligence education.
Their overriding theme was a call for more courses and programs in intelligence and law enforcement education to combat the spread of cybercrime and terrorism.
Garry Clement, former National Director for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s Proceeds of Crime Program, opened the conference with a warning about cybercrimes and a plea for more law enforcement professionals trained especially in financial crimes and money laundering.
“By 2019 the U.S. will have a shortage of two million trained professionals,” he said. Clement also noted that by 2020, the United States will face financial losses of $108 billion from cybercrimes. He suggested that course curricula include a section on the 2015 Charbonneau Commission report that disclosed widespread corruption in the construction industry in Canada’s Quebec province.
Clement called on colleges and universities to create courses that increase students’ skill sets to attack cybercrime. Among the skill sets needed, Clement cited a need for greater understanding of:
-Fraud including Ponzi schemes
-The complex world of tax evasion
-Cyber attacks including ransomware
-An understanding of accounting principles to detect financial crimes
Panelists and presenters overwhelmingly agreed on the need for more and better intelligence training. “We don’t have enough people to train,” said Chuck Russo, Program Director, Criminal Justice, Security and Global Studies at APUS.
As the leading education provider for national security and intelligence professionals, APUS is answering that need for improved intelligence skill sets by introducing two doctoral degree programs scheduled to begin in early 2018. The highly anticipated degrees are Doctor of Global Security (D.G.S) and Doctor of Strategic Intelligence (D.S.I.).
Stephen Coulthart, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas El Paso’s National Security Studies Institute, cited the importance of remaining current and relevant about techniques and tools students need to begin their career in law enforcement. Coulthart called Big Data “the new oil” within the context of national security because it is a rich lode of data that analysts can use to thwart criminal activity.
Students wanting a career in intelligence also need to know how to drill down into open source information resources, like the deep web. Most valuable sites are unknown to students, instructors and even to many law enforcement officials, said Amir Fleischman, Managing Director of Cicom Global, an intelligence advisory company in Tel Aviv, Israel. He then provided numerous examples of relatively unknown open source search engines that have a wealth of information on individuals and institutions. In the ever-expanding world of social media, “we are all digital immigrants,” Fleischman said.
In her keynote address, former CIA Deputy Director for Intelligence and Deputy Director for Analytic Programs Fran Moore spoke of the importance of cybersecurity in defending the nation against internal threats and external hostile actions. Moore, who is now President of FPM Consulting LLC, suggested that cybersecurity should be included in the triad of land, sea and air defenses.
In his keynote speech, former FBI Investigative Special Agent David Major cited five important “threat vectors” that intelligence officials and students need to study and understand – nation states, terrorism, cyber criminals, hacktivists and insider threats.
The Intergovernmental Action Group against Money Launderingin West Africa (GIABA), in collaboration with the Financial Intelligence Unit(FIU) of Burkina Faso, will organize a Training Workshop on InvestigativeTechniques of Money Laundering and other Financial Crimes or Offences, at theSplendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, from 31st May to 2nd June 2017.
This workshop is designed for law enforcement officers andprosecutors in charge of economic and financial crimes. The key objective ofthis workshop is to develop the capacities of investigators and prosecutors inthe investigation and prosecution of economic and financial crimes, particularlythose relating to money laundering and terrorism financing, as well as themonitoring and recovery of proceeds of crime and stolen assets.
The workshop is being organized in line with theconclusions of the Mutual Evaluation Reports and Follow-up reports, as well asother reports of GIABA Member States, which indicate a low level ofinvestigation, prosecution, conviction and confiscation of assets derived fromthe commission of criminal activities. It also takes on board therecommendations of previous workshops of a similar nature, which underscore theneed to initiate more practical training, involving specific case studies andtools on economic and financial crimes. Hence, the need for GIABA to intensifyits technical capacity building drive for investigators and prosecutors.
The objective is to enable them efficiently conductinvestigations on, and effectively prosecute cases of, economic and financialcrimes, particularly money laundering, terrorism financing and related criminalactivities. The workshop also seeks to enable participants effectively utilizeexisting asset confiscation, international cooperation and intelligence sharingmechanisms.
The conclusion of this event is expected to enhance thedetection, prevention and suppression of economic crimes in the region.Finally, it is expected that this workshop will help generate more successfulcases of prosecution and investigation within the region.
The workshop will be facilitated by regional andinternational Experts with a wealth of experience in investigation andprosecution of money laundering and terrorism financing cases.
Germany’s final draft legislation for a beneficial ownership register identifying legal owners of companies is under fire for not matching EU law and being too weak due to loopholes that could allow the true identities of company owners to remain hidden.
The lower house of the German Parliament May 18 passed the legislation that would transpose the newest European anti-money laundering guidelines into German law and increase penalties for violations. The bill now includes dozens of new incremental amendments, including one that would set stricter punishments for convicted money launderers.
The final draft of the law, approved a day earlier by the Bundestag’s Finance Committee, requires owners and operators of all German enterprises to identify themselves in an electronic beneficial ownership registry—even in offshore scenarios, a measure that directly contradicts the stipulations of the European directive the German bill seeks to implement.
“It’s a scandalous failure of the law in tackling money laundering through the disclosure of corporate legal entities and structures,” Markus Meinzer, a senior analyst with the U.K.-based Tax Justice Network, told Bloomberg BNA in an email interview May 18 after passage by the Bundestag. At least one part of the bill “is in clear breach of the Directive and is likely to attract an infringement procedure by the European Commission.”
Only investigative units and other organizations deemed to have legitimate interest in the personal information of companies’ beneficial owners will be granted access to the transparency registry, according to the bill.
The Fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive was adopted by the European Parliament and Council in May 2015 and mandates member states’ adherence to stricter guidelines in seeking out and prosecuting high-risk companies and lenders suspected of money laundering and terrorist financing.
But attorneys told Bloomberg BNA that while stricter sentencing for violators somewhat moves anti-money laundering protections in the right direction, the finalized draft didn’t adopt resolutions to address serious flaws in identifying beneficial ownership and constraints on public access to the new electronic registry.
The fact that these changes weren’t made stands in direct violation of the European directive the bill is supposed to implement, they said. “That’s a clear error of transposition,” Meinzer told Bloomberg BNA in a May 17 interview.
Germany’s bill to implement the directive touted plans for a beneficial-ownership registry and a bolstered finance authority as “effective instruments” needed to hone investigative resources to go after wrongdoers, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaueble said in a Feb. 22 statement.
Analysts and legislators told Bloomberg BNA the bill will ultimately fail to meet its aims in part because it denies public access to the beneficial ownership registry and includes a vague definition of beneficial ownership that will stymie efforts to pinpoint companies’ true owners and operators.
“There’s benefit to register the beneficial owners,” Andreas Frank, an independent anti-money laundering consultant based in southern Germany, who advises the Bundestag, told Bloomberg BNA in a May 17 interview.
German legislators told Bloomberg BNA that the adoption of other proposed amendments voted down by the governing coalition of Christian and Social Democrats could have closed holes in the law that make it possible for firms to veil their true owners and profiteers, despite the proposed obligations of the transparency registry.
“The federal government is slamming the breaks on the fight against money laundering,” Richard Pitterle, a legislator in the Bundestag with the opposition Left Party, told Bloomberg BNA in a May 18 email.
Analysts believe three amendments proposed by the Left Party would have fixed issues with the bill that violate European law.
The German bill will now go for a final vote in the upper house of the German Parliament, the Bundesrat. If passed, it must be signed by the German president before becoming law.
According to stipulations of the European directive, all member states in the European Union must transpose the directive into national law before June 26, at which time the European Commission will begin analyzing the respective pieces of legislation for compliance with the directive, a spokeswoman for the commission told Bloomberg BNA May 18.https://www.bna.com
The taskforce is made up of key representatives from government, law enforcement and the banking sector.
A group of Hong Kong authorities, including the financial regulator HKMA, today announced a new taskforce to crack down on financial fraud in the country, saying: “Financial Crime undermines the integrity of our economy and the financial institutions central to it.”
The Fraud and Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce (FMLIT) will be made up of key representatives from government, law enforcement and the banking sector. The taskforce will create a new era of collaboration, resulting in shared intelligence, unified responses and greater awareness of the risk of fraud among consumers.
The Taskforce will include law enforcement, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and a number of banks together with the Hong Kong Association of Banks under the leadership of the police force.
Currently, there are ten retail banks involved within the FMLIT: Bank of China (Hong Kong) Limited, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, Hang Seng Bank Limited, Dah Sing Bank Limited, Citibank (Hong Kong) Limited, DBS Bank (Hong Kong) Limited, The Bank of East Asia, Limited, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Asia) Limited, and China Construction Bank (Asia) Corporation Limited.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) said in a statement that the FMLIT is attended by key sector bodies in a bid to enhance the detection and prevention of financial crime and money laundering practises. The new initiative represents a collective commitment of government and industry to tackle fraud.
Setting out the work of the new Taskforce, the HKMA said: “Fraud causes significant harm to companies and individuals while money laundering enables those who would abuse our financial services to hide their proceeds of crime. The Hong Kong Government has developed an anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regime over many years which reflects its determination to protect the integrity of our financial system and citizens from this harm and ensure that Hong Kong remains a safe and stable business environment.”
Hong Kong and Macau have launched simultaneous shake-ups of the systems they have in place to tackle the growing menace of money laundering, financial crime and the funding of terrorist groups.
In separate yet starkly similar announcements issued late Friday, financial regulators in both cities stated their “determination” to fight serious financial crime and laundering, underlining the threat they posed to “financial security and stability”.
In a signal that Beijing – whose concerns about capital flight and the movement of corrupt cash are well documented – wants a more co-ordinated approach to tackling the problem, the opening line of the Macau Monetary Authority statement said the upholding of financial security had been “elevated to the national level”.
The casino hub’s financial regulator stressed that the statement had been agreed by the People’s Bank of China and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) following a meeting in the former Portuguese enclave on Friday which agreed to create a “Financial Security Expert Alliance”.
The meeting was attended by the HKMA’s head of information technology, Tan Yong-wah, and senior officials from the People’s Bank of China. It also heard a statement from the vice-governor of the PBOC, Yi Gang.
The HKMA statement made no mention of the Macau meeting or the fact that they had a high-level representative in attendance.
LONDON, United Kingdom – The E-CRIME (Economic Impacts of Cybercrime) project has concluded following three years of collaborative research.
Funded by the European Union, the project aimed to reconstruct the spread and development of cybercrime in non-ICT sectors from the perspective of its economic impact, whilst also identifying and developing concrete measures to manage and deter cybercrime.
The output and tools, developed by an international consortium of partners including law enforcement, the private sector, research institutes and academia, which, incorporated the knowledge and insights into economic cybercrime developed within the research activities were presented at a one-day conference.
The event specifically focused on presenting sector specific knowledge, methods, recommendations and tools for managing cybercrime risk. Practical, exploitable knowledge and products, such as the Awareness Training Programme for cyber security teams, and the Framework for conducting cost/benefit analyses on future security were also outlined at the 24 March event.
The E-CRIME final event was preceded by the ‘Prevent, Protect and Prepare’ workshop for law enforcement agencies. Structured around a series of cybercrime journeys identified during the previous phases of the project, this event brought together law enforcement experts from various backgrounds including legal and technical.
As a full project partner, INTERPOL provided a link to the international law enforcement community, delivered advice on aspects of the project which could impact police, and shared its experience in privacy, data protection and ICT law.
ABU DHABI (WAM) -- The three-day International Conference on Investigation and Prosecution in Terrorism Financing, organised by the Ministry of Justice in co-operation with the US Department of Justice and the US Criminal Division, with the participation of a delegation of authorities from Gulf countries, representatives from local and federal prosecutions, and experts from France, Austria and Jordan, started in Abu Dhabi on Monday.
Judge Abdul Rahman Mourad Al Baloushi, Director of the International Cooperation Department at the Ministry of Justice, stressed that the conference is part of the ministry's strategy to advance partnerships on local and international levels. It also seeks to promote a legal culture by learning the best international practices in legal and judicial fields.
The conference highlighted the role of the legal and judicial community in investigating terrorist-related crimes and prosecuting the participants and funders of terrorist operations.
The conference addressed various important dimensions of the topic, including detection of terrorism financing, current trends in money laundering, tracking of financial transactions, and the financial organisations in the Middle East. It also explored the threats of financing terrorism, the role of commercial banks in the detection of money laundering, the sources of financial monitoring, the role of financial regulatory units in terrorism financing detection, as well as the criminal and judicial prosecution of terrorism financing.
Representative of the Middle East Bureau of Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training (OPDAT) of the Criminal Division, US Department of Justice, stressed the dangerous global challenges facing the international community that are clearly linked to terrorism and sought the unification of efforts to combat terrorist crimes.
YANGON (Xinhua) - Representatives of seven member countries of the Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) gathered for a two-day meeting to seek cooperation in combating money laundering and terrorism financing.
BIMSTEC groups Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal and Bhutan.
In their discussions which began Wednesday, the representatives touched on topics including evaluation for better cooperation in combating the financing of terrorism, the cyber threat in the financial sector of the regional group, development of human resources to fight the illicit financial flow and preventing financing of terrorism, Myanmar News Agency reported Thursday.
The ninth meeting also discussed issues on cooperation between international organizations and improving the legal framework of the membership countries.
In September last year, Myanmar hosted a meeting of BIMSTEC anti-drug trafficking group, focusing on capacity building and technical assistance between the member countries.
Law enforcement agencies of member states of BIMSTEC have been closely cooperating in combating terrorism and transnational crimes including drug trafficking.
KHARTOUM - The European Union (EU) Wednesday said it would assist Sudan to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
The EU held a two-day workshop in Khartoum under the title “Combating Terrorism and Money Laundering” from 17 to 18 May to enhance the efficiency of the regular forces, judicial organs and central banks.
The workshop seeks to examine terrorism rates and financiers and its impact on national security as well as the organised crime and the role of the private sector in the freezing of funds besides the support rendered from regional and international organisations.
The projects manager at the EU mission in Khartoum, Francesca Arato, who addressed the workshop Wednesday, said they are determined to support Sudan to meet the international standards to combat terrorism financing and money laundering.
She disclosed that an integrated program has been developed to provide € 6 million to face challenges of terrorism and money laundering in the Horn of Africa, saying that extremism has become a threat to all countries and peoples of the world.
Arato pointed that Sudan is qualified to receive assistance but it is required to develop laws to combat terrorism financing and money laundering, saying illegal money transfer poses a serious threat to the stability of all countries of the world.
For its part, Sudan’s Minister of Justice Under-Secretary Ahmed Abas Abdallah underscored the government is keen to combat money laundering and terrorism financing at its highest level, pointing to the danger and negative impact of this phenomena at the local, regional and international levels
He pointed the government has supported terrorism financing and money laundering agencies, revealing they seek to implement an effective combat system.
The Sudanese official underlined the government has the political will and commitment to combat the two phenomena, saying Sudan seeks to implement international standards in this regard.
The representative of the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) Ahmed Ibrahim said they continued to cooperate with a number of competent international institutions to combat terrorism financing and money laundering.
He pointed that Sudan seeks to combat the two phenomena at all levels, saying they are to cooperate with the concerned EU and United Nations agencies.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international agency on combating money laundering and terrorism financing, in 2015 removed Sudan from its blacklist, saying the east-African nation is no longer a threat to the integrity of the international financial system.
Sudanese parliament adopted in June 2014 a law to combat money laundering and terrorism financing that contained articles related to consolidating investigations and financial intelligence which is the enforcement mechanism that receives notifications and information from financial institutions and other parties.
Sudan was placed on the U.S. terrorism list in 1993 over allegations it was harbouring Islamist militants working against regional and international targets.
Sudan has been under EU sanctions since the 1989 coup d’état and didn’t receive any development aid from Europe.
However, the European body reconsidered its position following the waves of illegal migrants from Syria, Iraq, and Horn of Africa countries. Sudan is identified as a source of migrants to Europe and a transit country for migrants from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
In April 2016, the EU officially allocated Sudan €100 million to improve the living conditions for refugees, help Sudanese returnees to reintegrate back into society, and to improve security at the border.
In addition to this support, Sudan benefits from additional funding under the EU Emergency Trust Fund for Africa, in particular from a €40 million programme to better manage migration in the region.http://www.sudantribune.com
TORONTO - Canada's money-laundering watchdog is studying the use of crowdfunding platforms by suspected terrorists and says in an internal study that the reporting protocol poses a "significant challenge" in trying to identify such transactions.
The Fintrac report, obtained by The Canadian Press through an Access to Information request, says there is a lack of information available in electronic fund transfer reports on contributors to crowdfunding campaigns.
Financial companies, money services businesses and casinos are legally required to submit the reports to Fintrac for cross-border, electronic transactions above $10,000.
That lack of information poses a problem for financial intelligence, "especially when trying to flag individuals supporting a crowdfunding campaign that may be suspected of being (terrorist financing)-related by an investigative authority," Fintrac says in the November 2015 report.
The federal agency said the reports typically don't include information on contributors to crowdfunding campaigns because the amounts transferred tend to fall below the reporting threshold of $10,000.
"Terrorism financing and high-risk traveller cases, in particular, most often entail relatively small amounts of money," spokeswoman Renee Bercier said in an email.
Daryl Hatton, founder of ConnectionPoint.com, a company that runs three crowdfunding websites, said they don't have to submit funds transfer reports because that is the duty of the payment processors.
"The short answer is that crowdfunding platforms leverage the anti-money laundering systems of our payment processors," Hatton said in an email.
"We add our own checks on the identities of the people running the fundraising campaigns but trust the much more sophisticated work our partners are doing in this area."
Hatton said he has removed a "very small number" of campaigns over terrorism financing concerns. The decision to remove the campaigns was made in collaboration with payment processors and was done more as a precaution, he said.
Craig Asano, the executive director of the National Crowdfunding Association of Canada, said it's important that there are mechanisms in place to detect such transactions.
The Financial Action Task Force, an international organization that aims to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, flagged crowdfunding as an emerging terrorism-finance risk in a 2015 report.
The task force report said crowdfunding platforms are vulnerable to being exploited for illegal purposes because people can mask the true reason for their fundraising efforts.
It also said there have been instances in Canada where people under investigation for terrorism-related offences have used crowdfunding sites before leaving the country or attempting to leave the country, suggesting that they could be using that money to fight overseas. But details of those cases were not provided.
In addition to filing reports for large electronic funds transfers, banks and payment processors also have an obligation to report suspicious transactions to Fintrac, even ones that fall below $10,000.
But in the case of crowdfunding campaigns, banks are only facilitators of the transactions and typically don't have all of the information about the fundraising effort, said Moh Datoo, a senior adviser in the financial crime risk management practice at Securefact Transaction Services.
"The actual information on who the investors are, the identities of the companies and the individuals — all that information is maintained by the crowdfunding platform," said Datoo. "So it becomes inherently very difficult for banks to be able to spot illicit activity within those transactions."
Datoo suggested that regulators undertake a "countrywide" review of existing laws in light of technological advancements that have transformed the financial services industry.
"A lot of the (current) regulations do not consider the fast-changing pace of technology and how it's affecting the way businesses are being run today," he said.
ST JOHANN IM PONGAU, Austria – Addressing the increased risk of foreign terrorist fighters returning from conflict zones will be a key area for discussion during INTERPOL’s European Regional Conference.
Following the ‘WannaCry’ global ransomware cyber-attack which affected many countries in Europe, specialists from the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation will provide updates on the actions being taken to coordinate a global response.
More than 170 senior police officials from 50 countries and specialists from regional and international organizations attending the three-day (16 – 18 May) conference will also be updated on the lessons learned from the recent terrorist attacks in London and Brussels.
The results which can be achieved when frontline officers have direct access to INTERPOL’s databases to carry out instant checks and receive alerts about suspected terrorists and criminals will also be highlighted.
Currently more than 12 million checks are made against INTERPOL’s global databases every day.
Just 48 hours after Austrian police linked its national network to INTERPOL’s global information system, they identified and arrested an international fugitive wanted by Croatia after a routine check of his passport.
Addressing the delegates, Austria’s Director General of Public Security Konrad Kogler said: “The most effective weapon against transnational crime and terrorism is the constant exchange of information by the police.”
INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei said no one law enforcement agency has the resources to meet today’s diffuse threat spectrum, where the market for crime has never been stronger.
“As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Organization, INTERPOL faces an historic opportunity and an historic challenge,” said President Meng.
“Facing the global security challenges of today, and the years to come, we have a shared responsibility to take a new leap for INTERPOL's next 100 years, by strengthening law enforcement capacity in all member countries, reinforcing their operational capability, expanding our global relevance and exerting a stronger leadership in global security governance,” added President Meng.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said the unprecedented complexity of today’s criminal and terrorist threat landscape presents significant challenges to law enforcement.
“The recent global ransomware attack once again demonstrated the competing demands on law enforcement, and the limited resources with which they must meet these challenges,” said Mr Stock.
“We need to fully embrace the advantages that technology offers us and here, cooperation with the private sector is also vital. Sharing information via existing global policing networks means countries can cast a wider security net by empowering frontline officers, whether on the streets or behind a desk, to help them identify a potential threat both on and offline,” added the Secretary General.
With illicit firearms linked to different types of crime, including terrorist attacks, delegates will be updated on INTERPOL’s recent Operation Trigger II.
Some 320 firearms – including a rocket launcher and a machine gun – and almost 20,000 pieces of ammunition, along with grenades and explosives, were seized in just 48 hours during the operation which involved more than 7,840 police officers across 23 countries.
Paris - The FATF President and Executive Secretary participated in the G7 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors’ meeting in Bari, Italy on 12-13 May.
G7 participants discussed the importance of tackling illicit financial flows and terrorist financing and committed to fully and effectively implement the FATF standards, including on designated non-financial businesses and professions. They strongly supported the work of the FATF in improving the implementation of international standards and welcomed and supported the ongoing work to strengthen the FATF’s institutional basis, governance and capacity.
The G7 created the FATF in 1989 to tackle money laundering. From the original 16 members, the FATF has since grown to a global network of 198 jurisdictions that have committed at the highest level to fully implement the FATF Recommendations on money laundering, terrorist financing and countering proliferation financing. In addition to setting the global standard, the FATF assesses how well countries have implemented them and researches the new and developing methods criminals and terrorists use to launder and raise their funds. FATF also identifies countries with strategic weaknesses that pose a risk to the international financial system. This initiative has been effective in forcing countries to take action, as failing to do so could increase the costs of doing business with identified countries and could deter foreign investment. The FATF has publicly named 61 countries with such deficiencies. 49 of these countries have since made the necessary reforms and been de-listed.
The FATF will continue to promote the effective implementation of its global standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing, in close partnership with the G7, G20, UN, IMF, World Bank, Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, FSB, OECD and other international bodies.
Officials of the sub-regional bloc ECOWAS met in Monrovia to brainstorm at the 27th Plenary of an Inter-governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa or GIABA.
At the opening of the meeting on Wednesday, in Monrovia, European Union Representative Mr. Antoine GouzeeDeharveen said money laundering is one of the contributing factors that leads to corruption and also prevents the state from functioning properly.
Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Guinea and Senegal were hosted in the Liberian capital at the GIABA 27th Plenary that began since Monday at the Monrovia City Hall and graced by dignitaries from some countries within the sub-regional bloc.
The plenary meeting assembles experts including representatives of member states, development partners and observers in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
The event offers an opportunity for member states to come together and share their experiences with respect to the challenges they face in implementing effective anti - money laundering and counter terrorism measures.
Mr. Deharveensays money laundering has a negative governmental impact on the society, including the economy and other democratic institutions. Consideration and approval of reports on the mutual evaluation of member states are key elements expected to be high on the agenda during the meeting.
According to Mr. Deharveen, money laundering has been a threat, and it is one of the priorities of the EU on grounds that his institution has internet security strategy in place that will fight against organized crime such as money laundering.
The EU Envoy said that the entire West African region is faced with this organized crime situation, prompting the meeting held here in Liberia to put some measures in place. Also speaking, GIABA Director General Mr. Adama Coulibaly said that the meeting in Liberia is to strengthen the relationship between GIABA, ECOWAS and the EU.
He said, they will strengthen the entire anti - money laundering and terrorism financing measures in West Africa.
Though he noted that they are facing financial difficulties, he however remains confident that they will use the meeting in Monrovia to support the budget of the member states.
He concluded that GIABA is seeking to assess what has been done in the member states so far and to create the opportunity for the Financial Intelligence Unit or FIU to make ownership of discussions taking place in Monrovia.
Europol confirmed Sunday that computer networks in more than 150 countries and more than 200,000 people had been affected by one of the biggest cybersecurity attacks in recent history. “It is the biggest ransomware attack ever,” Europol spokesman Jan Op Gen Oorth said.
The number of affected networks and individuals is likely to go up, he said, because “many workers left their computer turned on last Friday and will probably find out that they are also affected by the malware on Monday morning.”
Although the investigation is ongoing, Europol thinks the malware began to spread Friday from Britain’s National Health Service. It then affected other networks in countries including Germany, Spain, China, Russia and India. “It remains unclear what the motivation was. Usually, ‘ransomware’ attacks are designed to be revenue sources, but in this case the ransom was quite low,” Op Gen Oorth said. According to Europol, only few companies or individuals have so far opted to pay the ransom of $300 or more, following law enforcement recommendations.
Organizations around the world faced potentially substantial costs after hackers threatened to keep computers disabled unless victims paid a ransom to receive a decryption key.
The malware hit Britain’s beloved but creaky National Health Service particularly hard, causing widespread disruptions and interrupting medical procedures across hospitals in England and Scotland. The government said that 48 of the NHS’s 248 organizations were affected, but by Saturday evening all but six were back to normal. When asked if the British government paid any ransom in this situation, a Downing Street spokesman said Saturday that it had not. Amber Rudd, Britain’s home secretary, also advised against others paying ransom.
In Germany, people posted pictures on social media of scheduling screens at train stations displaying the ransomware message. Deutsche Bahn, Germany’s national railway service, tweeted that its train service had not been compromised and that it was working full speed to solve the problems. According to DPA news agency, Deutsche Bahn’s video surveillance technology also was hit.
Other targets in Europe included Telefónica, the Spanish telecom giant; the French carmaker Renault; and a local authority in Sweden, which said about 70 computers were infected.
It was still unclear who was behind the sophisticated attack. “We’re not able to tell you who is behind that attack. That work is still ongoing,” Rudd told the BBC. She said that it has affected “up to 100 countries” and that it wasn’t specifically targeted at Britain’s NHS.
The attack was notable because it took advantage of a security flaw in Microsoft software found by the National Security Agency for its surveillance tool kit. Files detailing the capability were leaked online last month, though after Microsoft, alerted by the NSA to the vulnerability, had sent updates to computers to patch the hole.
Still, countless systems were left vulnerable, either because system administrators failed to apply the patch or because they used outdated software. It was a jarring reminder of a stubborn reality facing security experts: Companies and other organizations collectively spent $73 billion on cybersecurity measures in 2016, according to the research firm IDC. Yet systems around the world were crippled by human error — failure to do routine software updates and employees unknowingly clicking on email attachments that contained the malware. “This was a completely preventable attack — to the extent that organizations have comprehensive patching systems in place,” said Paul Lipman, chief executive of the cybersecurity firm BullGuard. “However, life is never that simple.” On Friday, Microsoft released additional security updates to Windows and guidelines for consumers and businesses to protect themselves.
It’s possible that the malware didn’t spread further because of the enterprising work of a 22-year-old British cybersecurity researcher.
The researcher, whose Twitter handle is @MalwareTechBlog, realized the hackers had designed a “kill switch,” which involved a domain name that enabled them to stop the attack from spreading if the victims paid the ransoms. The researcher bought the domain name of the kill switch, and when the site went live, the attack stopped spreading.
The move didn’t help organizations that were already affected by the attack, but experts said that it limited the spread of the virus. The researcher, however, warned in a blog post that the hackers could alter the code and try again.
Health-care IT experts said it was no surprise that hospitals so easily fell victim to the ransomware attack. Health systems have faced hundreds of ransomware attacks in the past two years.
Health-care organizations in the United States are also subject to additional regulations, which constrain their ability to do updates. Many updates require systems to go dark for some period of time, and many hospitals are not allowed to put critical systems out of use.
Poorer hospitals are particularly vulnerable. While wealthy hospitals have effectively built cybersecurity war rooms over the past two years, some smaller hospitals “don’t have enough budget to keep the lights on,” said Rubin. They often cannot afford to back up data, perhaps the most critical tool in fighting ransomware.
Cybersecurity researchers were far more surprised that sophisticated telecommunications firms, such as Spain’s Telefónica, were so vulnerable. “This just goes to show that even the largest, most resource-rich enterprises can be brought low by something as simple as a skipped patch,” said Lipman.
The malware, known as WanaCrypt0r 2.0, or WannaCry, also affected systems for FedEx, major telecommunications firms, Brazil’s social security administration, and many others around the world.
TMT post, a Chinese online news outlet focusing on the Internet industry, reported that a number of Chinese universities had been affected by the attack.
Several schools — including Nanchang University, Shandong University and University of Electronic Science and Technology of China — issued alerts on their Weibo social-media feeds, warning staff and students to back up important files and not to open suspicious emails.
According to Chinese magazine Caijing, some students’ graduation theses and projects have reportedly been encrypted.
In Russia, hacking attacks were confirmed Saturday at the Health Ministry, the state-run Russian Railways and the telecommunications company Megafon, along with the Interior Ministry, which manages the police force. There were also reports that the powerful Investigative Committee, which investigates high-level crime, and several other telecommunications companies had been targeted.
The Interior Ministry said that 1,000 of its computers had been blocked by prompts demanding payment. By Friday evening, the ministry said it had “contained” the attack and denied that any of its information had been stolen.
Jakub Kroustek, a malware researcher with Avast, a security software company in the Czech Republic, said in a blog post that Russia was the most-affected country so far. “We are now seeing more than 75,000 detections of WanaCrypt0r 2.0 in 99 countries,” he wrote Friday night.
Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based Internet security firm, also said that the attacks were mostly in Russia.One reason Russia may have been hit so hard is the use of outdated software by government agencies. “Russia has a very rickety, out-of-date infrastructure, using not just outdated software but pirated out-of-date software,” said Mark Galeotti, a senior researcher at the Institute of International Relations Prague.
According to Galeotti, one Interior Ministry official in 2013 estimated that 40 percent of the ministry’s computers could be using pirated Windows software, which is widely available in Russia for download or at local computer markets.
In Brazil, the attack struck at the heart of the government — employee computers at the Justice Ministry and Brazil’s social security administration were infected. The local media also reported that the attack locked up computers in the country’s labor courts and the public prosecutor’s office.
In Britain, which is in the middle of an election campaign, the cyberattack triggered criticism of the NHS’s aging computer systems, particularly the use of Windows XP, an outdated version of the Microsoft operating system that doesn’t have the same level of defense against cyberattacks as newer operating systems.
Criminals who use the virtual currency known as Bitcoin can be convicted of money laundering under a Florida measure passed by legislators late Friday.
Both the state House and Senate approved the bill, which now heads to the desk of Gov. Rick Scott for approval.
Lawmakers approved the measure after a Miami judge last year threw out the criminal case against a man accused of selling $1,500 worth of bitcoins he was told was to be used to purchase stolen credit-card numbers online.
“Cyber criminals have taken advantage of our antiquated laws for too long,” said House Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, who sponsored the bill. “Bitcoin bypasses the traditional banking system, and our state’s laws simply had not caught up to the upsurge in criminality in the world of cybercurrency.”
The bill was crafted with help from Miami-Dade cybercrime prosecutors.
The measure, if signed into law by Scott, adds clarity to how police go after criminals who use virtual currencies to further illegal activities, or disguise ill-gotten money. Nevertheless, Bitcoin advocates said such a new law would have a chilling effect on the use of the virtual currency.
Charles Evans, a Barry University economist and virtual currency expert, has long maintained that Bitcoin — which is not backed by any government authority — is not actually money but nothing more than “poker chips” bought and sold by users, particularly in areas where banking systems are weak.
He criticized Friday’s passage of the bill.
“Before long, we might see coat checks, tickets to Disney World, and discount coupons regulated as money in Florida,” Evans said.
Authorities across the United States have struggled to figure out how laws apply to Bitcoin, which allows some users to spend money anonymously and can also be bought and sold on exchanges with U.S. dollars and other currencies.
Digital currencies allow people to make one-to-one transactions, buy goods and services and exchange money across borders without involving banks, credit-card issuers or other third parties.
Regulated services such as CoinBase, which operates similarly to PayPal, allow people to buy, sell and use bitcoins. But law enforcement has raised concerns about the currency — which can be bought and sold through private users — being used in underworld markets.
Bitcoins can be used to buy legitimate goods and services through websites and even in brick-and-mortar shops and restaurants.
But the currency has also been used to traffic drugs, most notoriously through the Silk Road “dark web” online network. In another prominent example, a South Florida man was sentenced to 10 years in prison after using bitcoins to buy Chinese-made synthetic heroin.
Police say human traffickers and prostitutes have also used Bitcoin to buy ads on Backpage.com, the classified website known as a hub for the sex trade.
Under current Florida law, money laundering can apply to a host of financial transactions designed to hide funds earned through criminal activity, or further that activity. That includes bank deposits, wire transfers and even investments.
If the governor signs the bill into law, “virtual currency” will be added to the definition of “monetary instruments” covered under Florida’s Money Laundering Act, which would then be defined as a “medium of exchange in electronic or digital format that is not a coin or currency of the United States or any other country.”
Prosecutors believed the law was needed after a Miami-Dade judge threw out the case against Michel Espinoza, a website designer who was charged with illegally transmitting and laundering $1,500 worth of bitcoins.
His defense team challenged the prosecution, arguing that Bitcoin is not actually money under Florida law.
At a hearing in May 2016, defense lawyers told a judge that no central government or bank backs Bitcoin, like the United States does the dollar. Government regulation of Bitcoin remains a messy hodgepodge from state to state, country to country, and the IRS considers Bitcoin deals no more than bartering, Evans testified.
Evans, who was paid $3,000 worth of bitcoins for his testimony in Espinoza’s case, likened the currency to nothing more than “poker chips that people are willing to buy from you.”
Circuit Judge Teresa Mary Pooler agreed, saying “this court is unwilling to punish a man for selling his property to another, when his actions fall under a statute that is so vaguely written that even legal professionals have difficulty finding a singular meaning,” she wrote.
The APG Secretariat hosted the APG’s 7th assessor training workshop using the 2013 FATF assessment methodology from 1-5 May in Sydney, Australia.
The workshop was supported by the Government of Canada, and attended by 46 delegates from 21 members. Representatives from Australia assisted the delivery of the workshop.
During the week participants worked in teams to conduct a mock mutual evaluation, including interviewing government officials, preparing a mutual evaluation report and delivering their findings to plenary. Participants are now eligible to act as assessors and/or reviewers in the APG’s third round of mutual evaluations.
Europol -A 48-hour international operation against online terrorism and extremism has seen over 2 000 items assessed as harmful and illegal material with the purpose of referring it to the online service providers for removal from the internet.
On 25 and 26 April 2017, Europol’s Internet Referral Unit (EU IRU) teamed up with colleagues from Belgium, Greece, Poland, Portugal and US to identify and secure the swift removal of terrorist and violent extremism content online. Hosted at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the teams jointly targeted accounts used by terrorist groups to radicalise, recruit, direct terrorist activities.
As a result, 2 068 such pieces of content in 6 languages were accessed for the purpose of referral, hosted on 52 online platforms.
This coordinated hit against online terrorist propaganda focused mainly on
the online production of terrorist materials by IS and al-Qaeda affiliated
media outlets. Among the items referred were propaganda videos, publications
and glorifying or supporting terrorism and extremism.
The efforts made by numerous online platforms to remove inappropriate content have driven supporters of terrorist groups to simultaneously use multiple platforms to promote terrorism and incite violence.
They have also been searching for new service providers to make sure their messages reach potential supporters. A growing interest for platforms that do not require identification can be witnessed. During this campaign, the participants identified a new platform that appears to be set up by terrorist networks themselves for not only spreading propaganda, but also financing their activities.
This and other content analysed during the campaign have triggered further operational cooperation between Europol and the participating countries with the aim of identifying terrorist networks online.
The final removal of the referred material is a voluntary activity carried out by the concerned service providers, in accordance with their own terms and conditions.
LYON, France - INTERPOL has gathered senior law enforcement officials from the world’s regional police organizations to strengthen police collaboration across regions and continents against global threats.
The two-day (3 and 4 May) Dialogue on an Effective Multilateral Policing Architecture against Global Threats is being held at INTERPOL’s General Secretariat headquarters and aims to create a strong global policing architecture by clarifying the roles of each organization, identifying areas for coordinating activities and encouraging greater information exchange.
Senior representatives from organizations including the Arab Interior Ministers Council (AIMC), AMERIPOL, ASEANAPOL, the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Europol, and the Gulf Cooperation Council’s GCCPOL, will review current policing structures and activities, identify overlaps and devise strategies for mitigating them. Frontex and the UNODC are also attending the meeting as observers.
Opening the meeting, INTERPOL President Meng Hongwei said: “Law enforcement and security organizations have a unique opportunity to enhance their cooperation to take on global security challenges. Multilateral policing is an important component of that cooperation requiring all key players to better align their activities, share resources and join strengths.”
With the dialogue part of joint efforts by INTERPOL and regional police organizations to set a roadmap for future collaborative action, INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “Police cooperation needs to be ensured across a wider realm, across continents and across different sectors against global threats such as cybercrime, terrorism and the movement of foreign terrorist fighters, which have given birth to a multitude of police responses.”
“Our goal is to remove any gaps to improve the global exchange of police information amongst regional organizations and INTERPOL, and build bridges for enhanced cooperation – within our shared membership, our regions, and across the globe,” added Secretary General Stock.
In this respect, topics to be discussed during the dialogue meeting include the four proposed pillars for a global policing architecture: joint coordination of strategies and processes; the creation of single national nodes – or contact points – in each national police system; ensuring that frontline officers have a streamlined access of information; and the establishment of global police standards to harmonize policing frameworks worldwide.
The Singapore authorities and government bodies are going on the offensive against money laundering and terrorism financing with a new partnership.
The Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Industry Partnership (ACIP) brings together several parties to fight such increasingly dangerous forces around the world.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) said in a joint statement yesterday that the partnership will fight not just money laundering and terrorism financing but also work on enhancing the ability to combat crimes arising from Singapore's position as an international financial centre and trade hub.
Mr Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director of financial supervision at MAS, noted that estimates place the amount of money laundered around the world each year at more than US$1 trillion (S$1.4 trillion) but "in truth, no one really knows".
Such threats undermine the confidence and stability of financial systems and come with high social and political costs, he added, which is why the MAS and CAD are stepping up their efforts.
The ACIP will have several groups studying specific risk areas and topics relevant to money laundering and terrorism financing.
The main steering group, as it is called, is made up of eight banks and the Association of Banks in Singapore, and is chaired by the CAD and MAS.
The groups will share information with the private sector and other stakeholders so everyone can better understand and mitigate the risks. They will also create "tangible, relevant and targeted" products for the industry.
Mr. Ong said it is important that financial institutions demonstrate a good understanding of risks, and have a good risk culture within their organisation.
There are already international organisations - such as the Financial Action Task Force and the Egmont Group - that are working on tackling such transnational threats, but Mr Ong stressed that it is just as crucial to work on such issues in Singapore.
"Financial crime typologies are evolving rapidly. Countries must explore smarter and more effective ways to combat such crimes," said CAD director David Chew.
For instance, MAS' anti-money laundering department was set up last year to coordinate strategies across all economic sectors.
It also uses different metrics to intensify "supervision on areas or businesses that are more prone to money laundering and terrorism financing risks, or where controls have been found to be lacking from past inspections", said Mr. Ong.
"Singapore must be proactive in playing our part to combat threats," he pointed out, given that the country is home to several financial institutions, including international names.
Some 30 officials representing financial institutions, relevant ministries, law enforcement and regulatory bodies of Turkmenistan participated in an OSCE-organized seminar held in Ashgabat on best practices in combating the financing of terrorism, the OSCE said in its press release.
During the two-day event participants discussed the traditional methods of terrorism financing, and the emerging threats and vulnerabilities in this field. They also stressed the important role of strengthening interagency cooperation in combating the financing of terrorism.
An expert from Moldova provided an overview of international legal provisions and standards on countering terrorism financing and the best practices for their implementation in OSCE participating states.
The Office of the Coordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities supported the seminar and presented the OSCE’s activities in strengthening good governance.
“Terrorism is nowadays widely recognized as one of the most serious threats to peace, security and stability, as well as to ensuring human rights and social and economic development in the OSCE area and beyond,” said Natalya Drozd, the head of the Center.
“Effective measures of combating terrorism in all its forms and manifestations need to include the blocking of networks used for terrorism financing,” she added. “Our Center plans to continue providing advisory and technical support to Turkmenistan's efforts to combat the financing of terrorism and other related issues.”
This event is part of a range of OSCE-organized activities focused on combating terrorism and builds on the Center’s multi-year efforts in promoting good governance principles.
ISLAMABAD (Xinhua) -- The EuropeanUnion (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Tuesdaylaunched a three-year technical assistance program to strengthen the criminaljustice response in Pakistan to counter terrorism, officials said.
The EU and UNODC officials said thePakistan Action to Counter Terrorism (PACT) program, which was launched at aceremony in Islamabad, is aimed at supporting the efforts of government ofPakistan to counter the threats of terrorism.
The EU will provide the financialsupport of 7 million euros (7.61 million U.S. dollars), a statement from the UNoffice in Islamabad said.
The project will improve theinvestigative processes and promote the use of forensic evidence during theprosecution stages of terrorism related cases. It will also strengthen thecoordination between the terrorism-hit northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa HomeDepartment, Police and Prosecution, the National Counter Terrorism Authority(NACTA) and Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) Police.
"More than ever there is aneed for strong international collaboration to counter terrorism. Counterterrorism will remain a top priority in the EU's security dialogue withPakistan and the PACT is a logical next step in this longstanding solidpartnership," said Jean-François Cautain, EU Ambassador to Pakistan in hisremarks.
The UNODC Country RepresentativeCesar Guedes said "UNODC has been collaborating with the government ofPakistan for over 37 years and for the first time it would be providingassistance in the area of counter terrorism by working closely with therelevant stakeholders at both provincial and federal levels in partnership withthe European Union."
Member of NACTA Choudhry MuhammadAsghar appreciated the close working relation of EU and the UN with thegovernment of Pakistan for making collaborative efforts in eliminatingterrorism.
"The government of Pakistan isin the process of implementing a National Action Plan against terrorism and theobjectives of the signed project would directly contribute towards itsexecution," he said.
UNODC is the key UN entity with themandate and expertise to deliver counter-terrorism legal technical assistanceto member states for the ratification, legislative incorporation andimplementation of the international legal instruments against terrorism.
The EU should have an autonomous process for judging whether countries are at high-risk of money laundering, say committee MEPs after rejecting for a second time, by 61 votes to 7 with 32 abstentions, a blacklist of countries drawn up by the EU Commission.
The Commission is responsible for producing, under the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering Directive, an inventory of countries thought to be at risk of money laundering, tax evasion and terrorism financing. People and legal entities from blacklisted countries face tougher than usual checks when doing business in the EU. An earlier list, drawn up last year -- a duplicate of one produced by the international body, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) -- was rejected as too limited by Parliament.
In Wednesday’s resolution, MEPs from the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee noted, “the Commission’s process was not sufficiently autonomous” and that the criteria for its list excluded offences giving rise to money laundering, such as tax crimes.
MEPs say the Commission should not be bound by FATF standards when drawing up its own blacklist, which they want to be more expansive and wide-ranging. The Commission says this would require more resources than it has.
The Commission currently identifies eleven countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Syria, which it judges to be deficient in countering money laundering and terrorist financing. This second update makes a minor change to the previous list by dropping Guyana and adding Ethiopia.
The resolution now goes to plenary. If it is supported by more than half of the constituent members of Parliament, the delegated act will be rejected.
European Union lawmakers are preparing to vote Wednesday on European Commission proposals to update a blacklist of countries linked to money laundering and terrorism financing after rejecting a similar list put forward by the EU’s executive arm in 2016.
The European Parliament sent a blacklist of 11
countries seen as at risk of facilitating money laundering or terrorist
financing back to the commission in January. The Parliament demanded that tax
havens be included on the list after it was rejected by two influential
parliamentary committees in December for being too narrow in scope.
“It did not include countries that facilitate tax evasion. According to EU anti-money laundering rules, citizens and firms of the listed countries who want to do business in EU countries have to be submitted to stricter checks,” the Parliament said in a press release on Tuesday.
The blacklist is part of the EU’s broad response to the Panama Papers revelations, which revealed a network of lawyers and financial advisers helping the rich avoid taxes.
More than 11 million documents were leaked from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca & Co. in April 2016, exposing complex tax arrangements in jurisdictions such as the Bahamas and the British Virgin Islands.
The EU’s influential Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, or ECON, and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs both voted to . Members of ECON will now vote on plans to revise the list.
The commission's previous list, put forward in November, listed countries including North Korea, Syria and Afghanistan but did not mention tax havens such as the Cayman Islands or the British Virgin Islands.
It first released a money laundering and terrorist financing blacklist in July 2016 as part of the terms of the fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, or AMLD.
The blacklist is a duplicate of that drawn up three times a year by the Financial Action Task Force, an intergovernmental body that updates its lists of uncooperative states or those deemed deficient in anti-money laundering or counter-terrorism financing.
Fabio De Masi, a German member of the European Parliament and vice chairman of the Panama Papers committee, had claimed the U.K. is for tax havens, despite assurances from Britain that it would clamp down on tax evasion.
The EU agreed in February that jurisdictions charging zero corporate tax on banks and multinational businesses will not be automatically classed as unfair tax regimes. The announcement marked a after EU finance and economics ministers met in Brussels to discuss the naming and shaming of noncompliant tax regimes.
The U.K. sought a guarantee during the brief meeting that a zero tax rate alone would not place an offshore jurisdiction in the EU's sights. The council conceded the point to get a deal.
At issue is how the EU will decide whether a jurisdiction is using offshore structures to attract profits which fail to reflect its real economic activity. A jurisdiction takes a vital step closer to being deemed noncompliant on fair taxation and appearing on the blacklist if the EU believes this is happening.
A commission process is underway that could establish a tax haven blacklist by the end of 2017. The authority asked member states in September to help name non-EU jurisdictions that “refuse to play fair” on tax.
The plan by the British authorities to expose corrupt Nigerians who invested looted public funds in property in the United Kingdom (UK) is welcome. Already, a criminal finances bill entitled “Unexplained Wealth Orders” is already under way in the country. According to reports, it is designed to close the loophole which has left the authorities powerless to seize property from overseas criminals, except such individuals are convicted in their country of origin.
Under the proposed law, property suspected to belong to corrupt politicians, tax evaders and criminals could be seized by British law enforcement agencies. It is targeted at making London unsafe for looted funds. The Executive Secretary, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Bolaji Owosanoye, disclosed that the UK government will give the Federal Government information about corrupt Nigerians who own property in that country, as from next year.
These will include all the houses that were bought by public officials or accounts that are held by public officials on which they are right now not paying taxes or which they cannot explain the sources. The development came on the heels of negotiations between Nigeria and British authorities during the Commonwealth Anti-Corruption Summit in London in 2016.
We recall that at the London summit, world leaders agreed to expose, punish and drive away corruption wherever it exists. The British Government also came up with measures to prevent corrupt individuals from hiding stolen money in the UK. Owosanoye also pointed out that the measure being taken by the government is a step forward in the fight against corruption. He is of the view that the proposed “Unexplained Wealth Orders” bill which would hopefully pass through the legal process this year, will help deepen the conversation in this regard and aid the quick recovery of illegally-acquired assets.
He stressed that with the “Unexplained Wealth Orders”, the Serious Fraud Office, HM Revenue and Customs, and other agencies will be able to apply to the High Court for an order forcing the owner of an asset to explain how he/she obtained the funds to acquire it. The orders, he explains, will apply to property and other assets worth more than 100,000 pounds, adding that the targets of the law are not only criminals, but also politicians and public officials, known as “politically exposed persons.”
We commend the Federal Government and the British authorities for this initiative aimed at exposing properties acquired with proceeds of corruption and questionable funds lodged in UK financial institutions by corrupt Nigerian officials. The earlier the corrupted are exposed the better for the country and its anti-graft war. This cooperation between the Federal Government and Britain should be encouraged and strengthened.
Exposing corrupt Nigerians who have acquired property with their looted funds abroad will invigorate the anti-corruption war and deter other Nigerians from emulating them.
We implore the UK government to expedite action on this matter. We are not unmindful of the legal issues that this might involve, but we believe that if the bill is quickly passed into law by parliament, its enforcement could start earlier than scheduled. The earlier this is done the better for Nigeria and its quest to recover stolen public funds. Let the government work assiduously with the UK to ensure that this initiative sees the light of the day.
This, indeed, is the type of approach government can use to recover our stolen funds from wherever they might have been stashed in the world, especially now that the economy is in bad shape. Let government be steadfast in its pursuit of this initiative, to strengthen the ongoing war against corruption in the country.
The Bank of Ghana (BoG) will soon publish sanctions for companies that fail to comply with provisions in the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2014 (Act 874).
This is in line with the amended Act which gives the BoG the authority to apply sanctions per its supervisory role.
The Second Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Johnson Asiama, said this at a risk summit on March 29, but declined to give details of the sanctions. Instead, he said the BoG would soon announce the sanctions.
“The Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2014 (Act 874) included the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in its definition of unlawful activities and the new predicate offence - tax offence. It expanded the Customer Due Diligence framework which is the bedrock of sound anti-money laundering regime. The Act also gives the mandate to supervisory authorities to apply administrative sanctions, and the Bank of Ghana will soon publish its sanctions for non-compliance with provisions of the Act,” he said.
He said the new anti-money laundering Act which was passed in 2014 to remedy some deficiencies identified with the old Act.
The Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2014 (Act 874) is an act to amend the Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2008 (Act 749) to extend the application of Act 749 to expand the scope of actions that can be taken under the Act and to provide for related matters.
Dr Asiama said the Bank of Ghana’s full implementation of the Basel Regulatory Framework was scheduled for 2018.
“The full implementation of the Basel Regulatory Framework vis-a-vis the existing risk-based supervision will go a long way to prepare the banking sector for risk management practices that are commensurate with the kind of financial services and products that are rolled-out in the sector,” he said.
In line with this, the Bank of Ghana has created a unit of dedicated group of staff in the supervision departments to provide technical support for the Basel II and III implementation process. The unit has the responsibility of preparing the supervision department and the banking industry.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), he said, had given the BoG technical assistance (TA) to complement the initiatives under the programme.
“The required Technical Assistance (TA) is to assist in building capacity for the supervisory staff of the Bank of Ghana and the banking industry and also to develop a roadmap to build the structures necessary for implementation,” he said.
Implementation of Basel II and III framework
Dr. Asiama stated that as a regulator, the Bank of Ghana’s role over the years comprised sensitising banks to the importance of risk management systems.
“We believe that banking institutions that adopt global and country-specific best practices will take proactive and not a reactive approach to risk management, assessing and providing safety buffers for expected and unexpected risk, long before a potential risk event crystallises. It should be noted that financial institutions who hitherto view risk management from the perspective of compliance or control (backward looking) must now view risk management from the perspective of value creation (forward looking) and the minimisation of inherent risk and operational losses,” he said.
He also urged financial institutions to clearly articulate the risk appetite of their institutions in order to put measures in place that will mitigate expected as well as unexpected risk.
The risk summit
The four-day capacity building summit was organised by Innovare, a knowledge and skills transfer provider, to equip bankers with skills needed to help them manage their risk.
It was on the theme: “Strengthening financial services operations with risk management.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Innovare, Mr C.K. Bruce, reiterated the need for banks to develop effective risk management systems to be able to deal with inherent risks associated with their operations.
“This conference on financial services is to ensure that best practices in risk management is adhered to and practised by all the banks. You know of all the collapses, such as DKM and the rest; it was as a result of no proper risk management system and poor governance. These are issues that we need to address to strengthen the banking sector in Ghana,” he said.
He said the summit would be held annually to build the capacity of bankers by exposing them to new risks and how to deal with them.
Lagos (CNN) - The Nigerian anti-corruption unit discovered more than $43 million in US dollars at an upscale apartment in Lagos.
The anti-graft agency said in a statement it raided the apartment Tuesday after a tipoff about a "haggard" woman in "dirty clothes" taking bags in and out of the apartment.
The agency said it also found 23.2 million naira (Nigerian currency worth $75,000) and £27,800 (UK currency, worth $35,000 US) "neatly arranged" inside cabinets hidden behind wooden panels of a bedroom wardrobe.
The money was found in an apartment in an upscale part of Lagos
The commission said the funds are "suspected to be proceeds of unlawful activity" but no arrests have been made yet.
Nigeria has struggled with corruption and looted funds for decades, but the watchdog unit has been on a lucky streak.
Earlier in the week, the agency discovered around 250 million naira in cash ($817,000) in a Lagos market and a further 448 million naira cash ($1.5 million) at a shopping plaza.
The huge find is the latest in a string of busts by the anti-corruption watchdog.
These gains have been credited to a whistleblowing policies launched in December by Nigeria's finance minister.
Whistleblowers can now anonymously provide information through a secure portal, if the information leads to the recovery of stolen public funds, the whistleblower is entitled to between 2.5%-5% of the total money recovered.
In February, the minister of information, Lai Muhammad, said the policy has led to the recovery of over $180 billion.
Ukraine and Latvia have agreed on further cooperation on recovery of stolen financial assets
President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko said this at a briefing during his official visit to the Republic of Latvia, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
"Today, we have reached several important agreements, including on further work and coordination in the recovery of stolen financial assets for Ukraine," Poroshenko said.
The President noted that Ukraine was interested in implementing Latvia's achievements in the fight against corruption, reforming the civil service, local self-government and certain economy sectors.
"Our specialists are studying the Latvian experience very carefully," Poroshenko said.
Earlier, Deputy Prosecutor General of Ukraine Yevhen Yenin said that Ukraine could rely on return from Latvia of at least 50% of the assets stolen by fugitive president Viktor Yanukovych.
A blockchain-based central bank digital currency issued to the public would allow wider and unrestricted access to payment and settlement systems, the deputy governor of the Bank of Japan said earlier on Friday.
Hiroshi Nakaso, deputy governor of the Bank of Japan – the nation’s central bank – was speaking at an official forum addressing the ‘Future of central bank payment and settlement systems’. The senior central bank official made remarks specifically toward the ‘effective use’ of the central bank’s payments recently launched ‘BOJ-NET’ payments platform, a next-gen RTGS system, when he spoke on the subject of digital currencies issued by central banks.
“While virtual currencies like Bitcoin have emerged under the trend of FinTech, some people argue that central banks should consider issuing digital currencies, which could partially replace banknotes,” Nakaso stated.
Central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, have been explored by a number of central banks around the world. Prominent efforts include those taking shape in China, Singapore, the UK and Sweden, among several others. As CCN reported in December, Bank of Japan staff were ‘test-driving’ blockchain technology following a partnership with the European Central Bank. In March this year, the director-general of the central bank’s payment and settlement systems department stated that the bank would “seriously consider” what would be possible for a digital currency.
In further remarks last week, Nakaso spoke about the differing scenarios in which a central bank digital currency would be issued.
Nakaso has previously touched on the subject of digital currencies publicly, whilst stating that blockchain was ‘invented in 2008 with the concept of bitcoin.’ The official also confirmed that while the central bank would do its utmost to “deeply understand” blockchain technology, there was “no specific plan to issue digital currencies as a substitute of banknotes.”
In his most recent remarks, the official also spoke of an ‘extreme case’ scenario.
The subject of central bank account offerings to retail or commercial customers has previously been broached by Nakaso.
[T]o whom should the central bank provide its account, as technological innovation changes the financial structure and the list of financial service providers?” the official asked, raising questions toward a discussion last year. “To what extent should the central bank provide “finality” to economic society? How should the information linked to payment transactions be handled?”
SINGAPORE - An INTERPOL-led operation targeting cybercrime across the ASEAN region has resulted in the identification of nearly 9,000 Command and Control (C2) servers and hundreds of compromised websites, including government portals.
The operation, run out of the INTERPOL Global Complex for Innovation (IGCI), brought together investigators from Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam to share information on specific cybercrime situations in each country. Additional cyber intelligence was also provided by China.
Experts from seven private sector companies - Trend Micro, Kaspersky Lab, Cyber Defense Institute, Booz Allen Hamilton, British Telecom, Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks - also took part in pre-operational meetings in order to develop actionable information packages.
Information provided by the private sector combined with cyber issues flagged by the participating countries enabled specialists from INTERPOL’s Cyber Fusion Centre to produce 23 Cyber Activity Reports. The reports highlighted the various threats and types of criminal activity which had been identified and outlined the recommended action to be taken by the national authorities.
Analysis identified nearly 270 websites infected with a malware code which exploited a vulnerability in the website design application. Among them were several government websites which may have contained personal data of their citizens.
A number of phishing website operators were also identified, including one with links to Nigeria, with further investigations into other suspects still ongoing. One criminal based in Indonesia selling phishing kits via the Darknet had posted YouTube videos showing customers how to use the illicit software.
The threats posed by the 8,800 C2 servers found to be active across eight countries included various malware families including those targeting financial institutions, spreading ransomware, launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks and distributing spam. Investigations into the C2 servers are ongoing.
IGCI Executive Director Noboru Nakatani said the operation was a perfect example of how the public and private sectors can work efficiently together in combating cybercrime.
“With direct access to the information, expertise and capabilities of the private sector and specialists from the Cyber Fusion Centre, participants were able to fully appreciate the scale and scope of cybercrime actors across the region and in their countries,” said Mr. Nakatani.
“Sharing intelligence was the basis of the success of this operation, and such cooperation is vital for long term effectiveness in managing cooperation networks for both future operations and day to day activity in combating cybercrime,” added Mr. Nakatani.
Chief Superintendent Francis Chan, Chairman of INTERPOL’s Eurasian cybercrime working group and Head of the Hong Kong Police Force’s cybercrime unit said the operation helped develop capacity and expertise of officers in the participating countries.
“For many of those involved, this operation helped participants identify and address various types of cybercrime which had not previously been tackled in their countries,” said Chief Superintendent Chan.
“It also enabled countries to coordinate and learn from each other by handling real and actionable cyber intelligence provided by private companies via INTERPOL, and is a blueprint for future operations,” added Mr. Chan.
The operation also highlighted the need for law enforcement to proactively investigate vulnerabilities exploited by cybercriminals, rather than waiting for reports from victims.
“The Singapore Police Force will continue to work closely with our ASEAN counterparts and the INTERPOL community to eradicate criminal activities in the cyberspace. We will spare no effort to track down cybercriminals who think that they can operate under the impunity of cross jurisdictions,” said Assistant Commissioner Cheng Khee Boon, Commander of SPF’s Cybercrime Command.
Identifying the different legislative requirements and regulations around the region was also an important aspect of the operation, providing participants with a greater knowledge and understanding of the avenues and restrictions in conducting enquiries.
A new pact highlights the attention Jakarta is paying to a key field in the battle against the Islamic State.
On April 12, state news agency ANTARA reported that Indonesia’s counterterrorism agency and anti-money laundering agency had inked an agreement to strengthen efforts to combat terrorism financing. The new pact highlights the attention that Indonesia is paying to the field amid the rising threat from the Islamic State.
While Indonesia’s counterterrorism response has been multifaceted – with varying degrees of success in areas ranging from security measures to rehabilitation – countering terrorism financing has also been a key prong. This is no surprise. Indonesian authorities have found that leading Islamic State-linked terrorist masterminds have been using online services like Paypal and Bitcoin as well as other forms of financial technology to send payments to Indonesia from other regional countries like Australia and Malaysia, making these transactions more difficult to detect. Indonesia has also traditionally had a poor record on money-laundering, which has left it at high risk for such activities.
The Financial Transactions Analysis and Reporting Center (PPATK) plays an important role in the war on terrorism financing. It has been cooperating with other ministries and agencies, including the National Agency for Countering Terrorism (BNPT) and Indonesian elite counterterrorism squad Densus 88 to trace the flow of funds, including digital-based transactions.
It has also been working with other regional states, including Australia, with the Australian Transactions Report and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) inking an agreement with PPATK in February to boost the latter’s capabilities In January, PPATK chief Kiagus Ahmad Badaruddin had also announced that the center would set up the Indonesian Financial Intelligence Institute (IFII) to serve as a center of education and training on anti-money laundering and terrorism financing in Southeast Asia.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed on Wednesday between BNPT and PPATK is yet another sign of Indonesia’s focus on the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. It effectively formalizes a partnership between two agencies that have already begun working together in recognition of the coordination challenge in this battle.
The pact itself covers several areas, including information exchange, educational training, and the development of information technology. And assuming that its implementation goes smoothly, it will be yet another step in the right direction in addressing the wider challenge of Indonesia and Southeast Asia’s war against the Islamic State.
Japan’s financial regulator has stepped up scrutiny of banks on their measures against money laundering and terror funding, ahead of checks by a global body for fighting illicit finance, several people with knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The Financial Services Agency (FSA) sees as patchy Japanese banks’ measures for fighting criminal abuse of the financial system and is increasingly concerned that without an appropriate response international trust in the system could be shaken, they said.
The FSA is surveying the banks and will pull together results this summer, and then seek an industry-wide bolstering of standards before the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) evaluates Japan’s overall performance in 2019.
The regulator’s move comes as FATF, which sets standards on combating money laundering and terror funding, looks to identify and disrupt the funding of terrorist groups such as Islamic State - a top priority for the Paris-based organisation.
In its evaluation of Japan - part of its periodic assessment of its 37 members - FATF will look at the effectiveness of its laws on money laundering and terrorist funding, and judge whether an institutional framework for supporting efforts exists.
FATF is finding other countries lacking, with only two of the 11 countries already evaluated having passed.
The FSA, which began its survey in March and has started collecting responses, aims to gauge banks’ awareness of money laundering and financing of terrorist groups. It will zero in on how banks have responded to legal changes designed to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism, the sources said.
FATF was established in 1989 to combat money laundering. Its mandate later grew to developing efforts against the financing of terrorism, which now form its top priority.
The FSA has been at the centre of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push to buttress global faith in Japan’s economy. It has looked previously to raise regulatory standards in areas from corporate disclosure to audit quality.
Austrian officials released a recent report indicating that money laundering had increased over the past year in the central European country. Bitcoin sees a mention within the report.
The Federal Criminal Police Office (BK) noted bitcoin money laundering cases were cropping up, but did not say how many such instances the had seen – only that cybercriminals use digital currencies like Bitcoin on the dark web.
Third-party accounts were acquired by money laundering purposes via phishing attacks. In one instance, 115,000 euros were transferred to an account hacked by criminals.
The BK supposes 2,150 suspicious cases (banks reported 2,002 cases) took place in Austria in 2016.
2015 saw just 1,793 such instances, signaling a nearly 20 percent increase year over year. Despite suspicious cases increase, money laundering related convictions decreased in numbers from 58 to 36 between 2015 and 2016. BK presented the annual report on money laundering at the 3rd Austrian Money Laundering Conference between March 21 and 22, where representatives from the Federal Criminal Police Office (BK), experts from the financial, judicial and economic ministries, as well as the Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FMA) and the Chamber of Economic Defenders came together to discuss economic issues.
320 industry players from financial services, legal professionals, representatives of law enforcement, and district administration authorities attended the conference, which took place in the Vienna Chamber of Commerce.
The central topic at the conference was how to implement the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive in Austria, a country of 8.7 million. Other topics were touched upon. For instance, the Federal Criminal Police Office reported increased terrorist financing.
“This is the result of some implications for the national anti-money laundering systems in general and the money laundering service in particular. In the course of the implementation of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive, a legal framework for the implementation of future analysis activities could be created by announcing the financial market money laundering legislation.
Since the legal amendment has not entered into force until January 1, 2017, the detailed practical implementation remains to be awaited in the area of effectiveness of the money laundering office,” the press release stated about the implementation of the 4th EU Money Laundering Directive.
Austria has initiated recent legislations to tackle money laundering, such as provision Art 165 StGB (Strafgesetzbuch, Austrian Criminal Code) which states any person who hides or conceals the origin of assets that are the proceeds of a felony, an offence against property or certain other criminal offences, commits money laundering The same goes for any person who knowingly takes possession, stores, invests, administers, transforms, utilizes or transfers to a third person any such assets.
The Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a specialized Institution of ECOWAS, has said it is involving religious leaders and faith based organizations in the fight against money laundering and combating financing of terrorism in West Africa.
The organization in a statement by its media office, explained that the involvement of religious leaders in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is to make the campaign more effective and sustainable to the level that it becomes a consistent message with the populace.
GIABA explained that the United Nations has since recognized the role of religious leaders in Preventing Violent Extremism (PVE) and promoting the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue and had articulated a Plan of Action on PVE that emphasizes the importance for faith and community leaders to mentor “vulnerable followers so as to enable them to reject violent ideologies” and promote “tolerance, understanding and reconciliation between communities”.
“It is obvious faith appeals to people on emotional levels and gives voice to a wide range of community concern. Using persuasion as a strategy, religious leaders need to understand what specific contribution they can, and have to make, to overcoming the menace of ML/TF and transforming public understanding, attitudes and behavior,” the organization stated.
The process will commence with a 2 –day national sensitization workshop for religious leaders and institutions on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
It explained that the broad objective of the seminar is to raise the awareness level of religious leaders on their role in fight against Money Laundering (ML) and the Financing of Terrorism (TF) as well as build strong partnership with Faith Based Organizations (FBOs) in the fight agains the twin scourges of money laundering and terrorist financing and promote understanding of GIABA’s mandate and agree on actionable points to curb violent extremism and promote peaceful co-existence in the society.
“Fundamentally, one of GIABA’s strategic goals is the promotion of strategic partnerships with the private sector, civil society and other key stakeholders.
This is aimed at increasing awareness of ML/TF in order to empower citizens to take action,” the organization stated.
The programme is scheduled to hold from 19-20 April 2017 in Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria.
It stressed that the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing is a collective responsibility of all stakeholders towards protecting the economies and financial systems from the laundering of proceeds of crime adding that GIABA recogni