E.g., 04/26/2019
E.g., 04/26/2019
04/25/2019

Cayman Islands - The Department of Commerce & Investment is introducing four new board policies as part of effective anti-money laundering regulation. The department oversees designated non-financial businesses and professions, which include real estate agents and precious metal dealers.

The policies come into force on Monday, May 1, 2019.

The policy changes affect money-lending businesses such as payday loan providers, who must now submit proof of their source of funds when making an application for a business licence.

The applications of money-lending, real estate and precious metals businesses will be subject to simplified due diligence by the DCI Compliance and Enforcement Unit before the DCI board reviews them.

The licensing period for developers making applications under the Local Companies Control Law is reduced to five years. Developers seeking a longer licensing period will be required to resubmit new applications, including updated information about the status of the project.

The DCI said the policy change aims to guard against developments being left incomplete, or delayed excessively, and the negative impacts this may have on investors and the Cayman Islands’ realty market.

Developers making LCCL applications must also include detailed information on the project and the exact location of developments, with a separate application required for each project and location. The department announced further changes to the Trade and Business Licensing Law later this year to streamline bureaucracy and make doing business easier.

https://www.caymancompass.com

04/24/2019

NICOSIA, Cyprus — A senior U.S. Treasury Department official says Cyprus has done "outstanding" work to curtail money laundering.

Treasury Department Assistant Secretary Marshall Billingslea says Cyprus has made "enormous progress and improvements" in its legal framework as well as in law enforcement.

Billingslea said after talks with Cyprus Finance Minister Harris Georgiades that the U.S. values its close partnership with Cypriot authorities and looks forward to strengthening those ties.

Georgiades said Cyprus and the U.S. will work to expand collaboration on fighting terrorist financing and money laundering which are major concerns for both countries as well as the European Union.

Georgiades said Friday's talks were his second meeting with the Treasury official this year.

http://www.startribune.com

04/23/2019

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - Ethiopian authorities have arrested 59 government officials on suspicion of corruption and economic sabotage, the attorney general said on Friday, in the latest sweeping crackdown by the administration.

Berhanu Tsegaye said those arrested in an operation on Thursday included the head and other staff of the government’s Public Procurement and Property Disposal Service, while others worked in what was previously the Finance, Economics and Cooperation ministry.

“We found properties, such as title deeds of houses held by the suspects, which are beyond their income,” Berhanu said.

After taking office last year, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed promised to clean up state-owned firms and the military, and canceled many contracts for its military-run industrial conglomerate METEC.

In November, Ethiopia arrested more than 60 officials, some from the intelligence services and some from METEC.

In January, the former head of METEC was charged with corruption, making him the most senior official to be charged after the arrests.

The latest arrests follow a three-month investigation, and included officials from the Pharmaceuticals Fund and Supply Agency and the Ethiopian Water Works Construction Enterprise, Berhanu said.

https://www.reuters.com

04/20/2019

Abuja - Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has cautioned bank officials in the country against aiding money laundering and terrorist financing.

Magu gave the warning in a statement by EFCC Spokesman, Mr. Tony Orilade on Tuesday in Abuja.

Orilade quoted Magu as giving the warning at an interactive session with Chief Compliance Officers of banks in Maiduguri, the Borno capital.

The EFCC chairman urged bankers to ensure strict compliance with the Money Laundering Act.

According to him, bankers must endeavour to report to the anti-graft agency, cash movements that fall above the allowed threshold.

“Nobody should carry cash above the threshold of above N 10 million for corporate organisations and N5 million for individuals

“Anything above the threshold must be routed through financial institutions,” he said.

He further said that the issue of money laundering, terrorist financing and leakage of information would be eliminated by the commission with the help of bankers across the country.

Magu said the EFCC would soon commence the profiling of Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the North-East with a view to monitoring their financial activities.

“We must profile all the NGOs in the North-East, I don’t know why an NGO will open more than 40 bank accounts.

“We are going to ask your various banks to give us statements of accounts for each and every NGO,” he said.

https://www.pmnewsnigeria.com

04/18/2019

ISLAMABAD: In a significant move towards effectively checking terror financing, the National Counter Terrorism Autho­rity (Nacta) has organised the signing of a multilateral memorandum of understanding (MoU) among over a dozen relevant institutions and departments.

Those who signed the multilateral MoU included the National Accountability Bureau, Federal Investiga­tion Agency, Federal Board of Revenue, Financial Monitoring Unit (FMU) of the State Bank of Pakistan, Anti-Narcotics Force, intelligence agencies and the provincial counter terrorism departments.

The signing ceremony of the MoU was chaired by Khaliq Dad Lak, national coordinator of Nacta, during the 14th meeting of the National Task Force on Combating Financial Terrorism (CFT) at Nacta headquarters in Islamabad.

The main objectives of the MoU are to enhance inter-agency cooperation, coordination and exchange of information to facilitate timely and effective detection, analysis and probe of cases, transactions and activities relating to money laundering, terrorism financing and predicate offences. The MoU will facilitate the sharing of financial intelligence amongst the FMU, law enforcement agencies (LEAs) and intelligence agencies.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Lak urged the LEAs to investigate all predicate crimes from terror financing perspective and seek guidance from standard operating procedures (SOPs) issued by Nacta and internally develop their own SOPs to mitigate the risk of terror financing.

https://www.dawn.com

04/17/2019

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has published fresh regulatory guidance for token issuers, nearly half a year in the making.

The guidance focuses on tokens and outlines how and when these cryptocurrencies may fall under a securities classification, according to the document

SEC Director of Corporation Finance William Hinman first revealed that the regulator was developing new guidance for crypto tokens last November, and other members of the agency, including FinHub head Valerie Szczepanik and Commissioner Hester Peirce, have repeatedly said that SEC staff was working on the document.

In November, Hinman said the “plain English” guidance would help token issuers easily determine whether or not their cryptocurrency would qualify as a security offering.

The guidance includes examples of both networks and tokens that fall under securities laws, as well as a project which does not.

DLT framework

The framework itself outlines a number of factors that token issuers must consider before evaluating whether or not their offerings qualify as securities. These factors include an expectation of profit, whether a single or at least central group of entities are responsible for specific tasks within the network, and whether a group is creating or supporting a market for a digital asset.

Referencing the oft-cited Howey test, the guidance highlights “reliance on the efforts of others,” reasonable expectation of profits, how developed the network is, what the tokens’ use cases might be, whether there is a correlation between a token’s purchase price and its market price and a host of other factors.

The guidance also details how issuers should look at tokens previously sold, both in evaluating whether they should have been registered as securities, as well as whether “a digital asset previously sold as a security should be reevaluated.”

The criteria for this reevaluation include whether:

  • The “distributed ledger network and digital asset are fully developed and operational” (meaning individuals can immediately use the token for some function);
  • The token is focused on a specific use case rather then speculation;
  • “Prospects for appreciation” in the token’s value are limited; and
  • If billed as a currency, the token actually operates as a store of value.

While this guidance has been a long time coming, and provides some legal clarity for token issuers, it is not a legally binding document, and should be seen more as a guideline.

Peirce has said in the past that staff-issued guidance does not carry the weight that guidance issued by the Commissioners would.

Speaking at New York University in March, Peirce explained: 

"Now staff guidance is staff guidance. The Commission can go ahead and bring enforcement actions anyway but staff guidance does carry a bit of weight, but I would like to do something more formal at the Commission level so people have a little bit more certainty"

Remaining questions

While the guidance discusses securities classifications, other questions remain unanswered. In particular, the SEC has yet to provide clarity around the idea of custody for broker-dealers holding cryptocurrencies.

The key issue around custody comes from the fact that while broker-dealers can easily verify that cryptocurrencies in any given wallet belong to them, it is harder to prove that no one else has access to the holdings.

Szczepanik said during a panel at the D.C. Blockchain Summit in March that these firms “need to show that they have possession and control and that could be hard to demonstrate with a digital asset.”

“A digital asset … is controlled by whoever possesses the private key, and it’s hard to prove a negative,” she explained.

Also Wednesday, the SEC issued its first-ever no-action letter authorizing a startup’s token sale to go forward.

https://www.coindesk.com

04/16/2019

Lawmakers are making a fresh attempt to give cryptocurrencies a clearer legal standing in the U.S.

U.S. Representative Warren Davidson reintroduced the Token Taxonomy Act on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the bill, if approved by Congress and signed into law, would “send a powerful message” to innovators that “the U.S. is the best destination for blockchain technology.”

The bill, first introduced last year by Reps. Davidson and Darren Soto, seeks to exempt certain cryptocurrencies and other digital assets from federal securities laws, allowing individuals to more easily trade or transact with select coins.

The act would amend the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1940, granting regulators such as the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) clarity on how they may enforce securities laws surrounding cryptocurrencies.

While the SEC has released staff-level guidance explaining how it might verify whether token sales are securities offerings, it remains unclear how cryptocurrencies that are not being used for fundraising might be classified.

In addition to Davidson and Soto, Reps. Josh Gottheimer, Tedd Budd, Scott Perry and Tulsi Gabbard – who is currently running for president – are cosponsoring the 2019 version of the bill.

Five of the cosponsors, excluding Perry, are members of the House Financial Services Committee.

New provisions

The TTA is largely similar to the bill introduced in 2018, but the new version will feature some changes, including a clearer definition of digital tokens that will be more inclusive of changing technology, according to the bill.

There are also provisions which strengthen consumer protection and preempt any state laws which would otherwise overlap with the act.

Last year’s Congressional session ended before the House Financial Services Committee or House Ways and Means Committee could vote on whether the full House should consider the proposal.

In a statement, Kristin Smith, acting head of Blockchain Association, told CoinDesk that the lobbying group is “pleased to support the re-introduction of the Token Taxonomy Act.”

“In light of the recent SEC staff guidance, the open blockchain industry needs regulatory clarity more than ever,” she said. “We believe that blockchain technology has tremendous potential and that we need smart, simple, and supportive legislation to make sure that the United States continues to be a leader in this ecosystem. We are grateful for the bill’s sponsors for their continued support for this vital technology.”

https://www.coindesk.com

04/15/2019

Cryptocurrency mining has become the latest target for the Chinese government seeking to phase out industries considered a drag on the country’s economy.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the top economic planning agency in the world’s largest market for bitcoin mining, released on Monday a list of sectors it plans to promote, restrict or eliminate. Crypto mining, the process of creating Bitcoin and other digital currencies through the use of computing power, was namechecked alongside a swarm of other sectors the agency wanted to “eliminate” because they “lacked safe production conditions, seriously wasted resources, polluted the environment,” among other issues.

Bitcoin’s valuation famously slumped in 2018, falling from a record $20,000 in December 2017 to below $4,000, but this piece of news from China comes amid a period of renewed optimism. Last week, Bitcoin’s value rocketed above $5,000 for the first time since November 2018.

The official announcement, which comes in the form of a revised list awaiting public comment, does not exert regulatory power. The agency did not put a proposed deadline for when crypto mining should be banned. While such guidelines normally hint at Beijing’s attitude towards an industrial activity, some points out that the NDRC’s guiding list, which renews every few years, has had limited impact on industries it has wanted to cut.

“Items that should be eliminated by end of 2006 are still in the 2011 and 2019 versions,” noted Dovey Wan, founding partner at blockchain-focused Primitive Ventures, in a tweet.

The ban, if carried out, would deal a massive blow to a series of Chinese companies that rode the crypto wave by providing mining and production tools to the industry. In particular, Bitmain — which recently lets its application for a proposed Hong Kong IPO lapse — would be significantly impacted by a ban. Bitmain’s mining-optimized hardware is widely acknowledged as the top provider of mining hardware, and as much as 94 percent of the company’s revenues in the first half of 2018 came from “Antminers”, its crypto mining hardware.

A spokesperson for Bitmain declined to comment on the news when contacted by TechCrunch.

The crypto sector has drawn close scrutiny from Beijing amid concerns over frauds and speculation, which led to a ban on initial coin offerings in 2017. Meanwhile, environmentalists have protested wasteful energy consumption that bitcoin mining incurs. China was reportedly planning to restrict power supply for some bitcoin miners early last year, according to sources cited by Bloomberg.

This is not the first time China has mulled a clampdown on crypto mining. In January 2018, Beijing was said to ask local governments to discourage bitcoin mining enterprises, according to documents obtained by Chinese financial news publication Yicai. But local officials may be reluctant to embrace such guidance. Much of China’s crypto mining activities happen in its sparse, underdeveloped hinterlands where energy is in the surplus and the governments are eager to boost production. Whether the new order coming from the powerful NDRC will put further deterrent on the industry is up in the air.

https://techcrunch.com

04/13/2019

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is currently pursuing a "large number" of anti-money laundering (AML) investigations, which could lead to criminal proceedings.

Speaking in London on Thursday (4 April), FCA director of enforcement and market oversight Mark Steward confirmed the regulator is currently undertaking so-called dual track investigations, which can give rise to either criminal or civil proceedings.

Steward said: "We have a large number of investigations on foot, some of them entering important phases, tackling some very serious issues, including suspected financial crime in our markets, suspected false or misleading statements by listed issuers, and suspected significant AML system and control issues under the Money Laundering Regulations."

The FCA, which in March doled out huge fines for transaction reporting failures to Goldman Sachs and UBS, has conducted investigations with regard to market abuse "for many years" and the new approach brings AML investigations "into line" with its established practice, he explained.

Steward said: "I do not think there should be anything controversial here. It would be inconsistent with the investigative mindset to narrow the scope of potential outcomes provided for by the law before you have made any inquiries or been able to assess the nature of the matter under investigation."

"More importantly, I think it is time that we gave effect to the full intention of the Money-Laundering Regulations which provides for criminal prosecutions.

"In making poor AML systems and controls potentially a criminal offence, the MLRs are signalling that, in egregious circumstances, MLR failures let down the whole community."

Commenting on the regulator's ongoing investigations, Claire Simm, AML expert and managing director within the compliance and regulatory consulting practice at Duff & Phelps, said: "In the last decade, we have seen numerous high-profile enforcement actions which show that financial crime compliance remains a core priority for regulators and law enforcement agencies around the world.

"In the last five years, financial crime was found to be the second highest category for global fines levied, trailing just behind conduct of business obligations."

According to Duff & Phelps 2018 Global Enforcement Review, enforcement action fines between 2013 and 2017 for sanctions breaches, bribery, tax evasion and fraud reach $10.1bn, $5.6bn, $5.1bn and $4.4bn respectively. Meanwhile, AML saw just $3.5bn over the period.

Simm said "the attention on AML is expected to grow", following UK and US regulators "taking strong action" against Deutsche Bank in 2017 for AML failings, with the bank hit with with combined fines of $630m.

She added: "The action taken against these large firms reflects the fact that regulators are looking at both failings in a firm's systems and control and the actual laundering of potentially criminal money - and handing down penalties that are deemed appropriate."

With regard to the FCA, Steward said not "every investigation where we think there is a case to answer will or should be prosecuted in this way".

He added: "I suspect criminal prosecutions, as opposed to civil or regulatory action, will be exceptional.

"However, we need to enliven the jurisdiction if we want to ensure it is not a white elephant and that is what we intend to do where we find strong evidence of egregiously poor systems and controls and what looks like actual money-laundering."

https://www.investmentweek.co.uk

04/12/2019

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to combating financial crime, Adel Al-Qulish, vice chairman of the Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee told a workshop organized in cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Riyadh on Sunday.

Money laundering, terrorism funding and arms proliferation were a particular priority, he said.

The Kingdom was building its capacity to develop legislative, institutional and professional measures to fight money laundering, arms proliferation and terrorism funding in accordance with international standards and requirements issued by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and best international practices.

Al-Qulish thanked the IMF for its cooperation in organizing the event, and participants from relevant authorities in the Kingdom and members of the committee.

He said that the Kingdom had ensured all authorities were aware of the importance of their role by committing to related systems, standards and instructions, applying policies and procedures and working on promoting a risk-based approach aimed at understanding threats and weaknesses to become more effective in discovering, preventing and monitoring operations and reporting suspicious activities.

Royal approval on adopting the national strategic objectives is a clear message that the Saudi government is developing the policies and working methods of relevant authorities, improving international procedures and creating integrated mechanisms that support and promote coherence among authorities.

Al-Qulish said that the Kingdom had recently witnessed a mutual assessment process — conducted by FATF and the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (MENAFATF) experts — of the systems, procedures and efforts deployed in combating money laundering, terrorism funding and arms proliferation.

The Kingdom’s initiative to support and develop a technical assistance fund for the programs combating money laundering and terrorism funding under the umbrella of the IMF was based on its belief in the important role of the IMF. The initiative was an extension of local, regional and international efforts exerted by the Kingdom. It also highlighted the Kingdom’s support of the efforts of the international community in this area.

http://www.arabnews.com

04/11/2019

The International Cricket Council seeks more closely work with Interpol to combat corruption in the sport.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) will work more closely with Interpol as part of ongoing efforts to combat corruption in the sport, the governing body said on Wednesday.

Alex Marshall, ICC's general manager of its anti-corruption unit, met Interpol officials in Lyon last week to seek closer working relations, it added.

"The ICC has an excellent relationship with law enforcement agencies in a number of countries but working with Interpol means we are connecting with their 194 members," Marshall said in a statement.

"Our focus is on education of players and prevention and disruption of corruptors.

Where our enquiries reveal criminal offences have been committed, we will refer this to the relevant law enforcement organisations and this makes Interpol an important partner for us."

Cricket has suffered a series of corruption cases in recent years.

In 2011, Pakistan's Salman Butt, Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were found guilty of taking bribes to fix part of a test match against England in a case that prosecutors said revealed rampant corruption at the heart of international cricket.

Earlier this year, the ICC had granted Sri Lankan cricketers a 15-day amnesty to report previously undisclosed information relating to corruption in the sport.

It was followed by former captain and chairman of selectors Sanath Jayasuriya being handed a two-year ban for refusing to cooperate with any investigation conducted by its anti-corruption unit. 

In the sport's history cricketers from India, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and the West Indies have been found involved in corrupt practices.

 

https://www.trtworld.com

04/10/2019

The British Columbia government introduced legislation Tuesday aimed at preventing tax evasion and money laundering by shining a spotlight on anonymous real estate owners hiding behind shell and numbered companies.

Finance Minister Carole James said the proposed Landowner Transparency Act would create Canada's first public registry of property owners to compel corporations, trusts and partnerships to disclose the owners of the land they currently have and are purchasing.

"It will require corporations, trusts and partnerships to be able to include the information around who is an owner of the land, just as citizens do when they register (at the land titles office)," James said at a news conference after presenting the bill in the legislature.

She said a lack of transparency in some aspects of real estate ownership is one of the challenges the government faces with money laundering and tax fraud. James noted that a 2016 report by Transparency International Canada indicated nearly one-third of the 100 most valuable residential properties in Metro Vancouver were owned by shell companies.

Part of government's housing strategy

The group is the Canadian division of Transparency International, an anti-corruption, non-government coalition that looks at global corruption and offers legal reforms to fight it.

"You see these kinds of registries in Europe and the U.K. We need to make sure that the opportunity is there to know who is behind these companies, because shining a light on transparency is one of the best things you can do when you are talking about getting rid of money laundering or bad action when it comes to housing."

She said the legislation is part of the government's housing strategy to close real estate ownership loopholes and crack down on property speculation, tax evasion and money laundering.

The property registry would give tax authorities, law enforcement agencies and regulators access to more detailed ownership information.

James said she also introduced amendments to the Business Corporations Act to require private companies to hold accurate and up-to-date information about the owners of their shares.

"Requiring companies, trusts and partnerships to disclose their controlling shareholders, beneficial owners and partners protects the public by letting everyone know who they are dealing with in B.C.'s real estate market," said Nancy Merrill, president of the Law Society of B.C. in a statement.

Money laundering reports coming soon

James recently received a report from former deputy attorney general Maureen Maloney examining gaps in the real estate and financial sectors that could be exploited by money launderers.

Former deputy RCMP commissioner Peter German also delivered a report to B.C. Attorney General David Eby that focused on identifying the scale and scope of illicit activity in B.C.'s real estate market and whether money laundering is linked to horse racing and the sale of luxury vehicles.

The government said both reports will be released publicly, but a date has not been announced.

German produced a report for the government last year that concluded money laundering was occurring in some B.C. casinos.

Last June, an international anti-money laundering organization said in a report that up to $1 billion annually was being filtered through some B.C. casinos by organized crime groups through an underground Metro Vancouver bank.

The B.C. government also cited an RCMP intelligence report that estimated up to $1 billion from the proceeds of crime was used to purchase expensive Metro Vancouver homes.

Eby and Bill Blair, the federal minister responsible for fighting organized crime in Canada, met last week in Victoria to discuss the issue.

Blair said money laundering is occurring in Canada, but it is difficult for law enforcement agencies and governments to determine the extent of the illegal activity because criminals are operating secretly.

Blair, a former Toronto police chief, said the federal government's most recent budget includes promises to create a multi-agency task force to fight money laundering.

 

https://www.cbc.ca

Launderers’ list
04/09/2019

Barbados has made some progress in improving its anti-money laundering (AML) regime, but remains one of the major money laundering countries in 2018, according to the latest International Narcotics Control Strategy Report.

The document, which was released by the United States Department of State, named Barbados among over 82 countries including the US, which it identified as major money laundering countries.

“A major money laundering country is defined by statute as one ‘whose financial institutions engage in currency transactions involving significant amounts of proceeds from international narcotics trafficking’,” it said.

“Barbados has made limited progress improving its anti-money laundering regime. Barbados has completed an initial risk assessment identifying drug trafficking as the main source of money laundering in the country and is in the process of completing a more comprehensive National Risk Assessment (NRA),” it pointed out.

The document said the more comprehensive NRA was being carried out amid concerns it may not have been sufficient to identify significant national money laundering risk and vulnerabilities.

The report described Barbados as having an active international financial services sector, but no free trade zones nor economic citizenship programme.

It said the country reported that the major source of illicit funds is from drug trafficking, but pointed out that several steps were being taken to arrest the issue.

“National measures taken to address this risk include targeted controls at the points of entry, increases in maritime patrols in the waters around Barbados and the use of intelligence by competent authorities,” it noted.

At the same time, the report pointed out that “The extensive use of cash in routine business transactions and the comingling of illicit and legitimate funds in the financial system pose additional money laundering challenges.”

According to the report the high volumes of US currency in circulation in Barbados related primarily to tourism, but pointed out that Barbados Government officials and US law enforcement representatives have assessed that “a substantial quantity” of these dollars do not come from illicit activity.

“Barbados does not have any offshore banks or other institutions that would put it at higher risk than its Eastern Caribbean counterparts,” the report added, while acknowledging that the country had a number of AML laws in place.

Indicating that the Proceeds of Crime Act still did not include a provision for cash seizures, it said Barbados “has used its exchange Control Act for forfeitures” and recognises that this practice is “insufficient” and is drafting new legislation to address this issue.

“Additionally, a new NRA is still underway and could identify additional deficiencies,” it added.

The US Department of State recommended that Barbados address several areas in order to align with international best practices, including completing the new NRA, improving the monitoring process of politically exposed persons, correcting technical deficiencies in the enforcement of sanctions, fostering national cooperation and confiscating assets.

“The new Government in Barbados, with the support of donors, is exploring the establishment of a civil asset recovery division. Barbados has signed but not ratified the United Nations Convention Against Corruption,” it said.

In its drug and chemical control report Barbados is said to be planning to allow cultivation, domestic use, and export of medicinal marijuana under licensing controls to countries were medical cannabis is legal. It said the country reported 105 drug-related arrests with 105 prosecutions during the first nine months of last year.

At the end of last year the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) destroyed some 132 pounds of cocaine and 897 pounds of marijuana taken from seizures around the country, adjudicated cases, ports of entry and work of the Coast Guard and sea police, worth an estimated street value of over $4.8 million.

The document pointed out that while some countries reported “a growing market for strains of marijuana from the United States and Canada and some reported an increase in the use of commercial cargo airlines and different types of marine vessels for transshipment, Barbados reported more small-scale trafficking in 2018.

Last year’s report said narcotics trafficking, money laundering, and firearms trafficking were major sources of illicit funds in Barbados.

At that time, it said in addition to financial institutions, money was being laundered through a variety of businesses and through the purchase of real estate, vehicles, vessels and jewellery. This was based on a review carried out the previous year.

 

https://barbadostoday.bb

04/08/2019

Daily Star - A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 05, 2019, on page 4.

BEIRUT: The Middle East is considered the most-targeted area in the world in terms of cybercrime and loss of data, Joseph Torbey, president of the Association of Banks in Lebanon and chairman of the World Union of Arab Bankers said Thursday.

“The Middle East is one of the world’s most-targeted areas of cybercrime and data loss.

“In the event of an online attack that leads to the loss of personal data of any EU citizen or entity affiliated with the European Union, and if these institutions have not complied with the general data protection regulation, or have not reported infringements according to a Thomson Reuters report in March 2019, these entities will be subject to severe penalties,” Torbey said in his speech at the opening of the Arab Banking Compliance Forum.

Torbey stressed that Arab banks needed to be fully alert to the dangers of cybercrime and the loss of sensitive data.

“All Arab banks and financial institutions dealing with personal data of EU citizens should take appropriate measures in line with the provisions of the Public Data Protection Act, with significant changes in the way sensitive personal data is stored, processed and disseminated,” Torbey added.

Torbey said a data protection officer should be appointed in the compliance units of financial institutions and banks.

Lebanese and Arab banks have invested heavily in the development of compliance departments in a bid to foil any attempt to infiltrate the banking system by money launderers and illicit financial operators.

All these procedures are in line with the latest U.S. and European Union regulations.

“At the end of March 2019, the U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted a draft resolution to combat the financing of terrorism, aimed at developing a unified doctrine of reference to this issue and improving the means of addressing the financing of terrorism,” Torbey said.

Torbey added that Resolution 2462 called upon all member states of the United Nations to “ensure that their domestic laws and legislation contain the grave criminal responsibility to prosecute and punish illicit financial operators in a way that reflects the gravity of the crime.”

“The document urges action to protect the confidentiality of remittances, develop the means to monitor payments by telephone and use cash and encrypted currency,” Torbey said.

He suggested technology could be a double-edged sword for the banking system around the world.

“One of the most important reasons for the complexity of the work of compliance units in banks and financial institutions is the tendency to rely heavily - and perhaps excessive - on technology in the conduct of financial and banking operations,” he added.

Torbey said the excessive use of technology by banks might allow hackers and criminals to penetrate the financial system.

He also commented on the U.S. sanctions on Iran and organizations it has designated as “terrorist.”

“We believe that U.S. sanctions have created a new challenge for international banks in general and Arab banks in particular, and dealing with them is not easy.

“Over the past few years, we have seen huge sanctions imposed by the United States on global banks for violating states and entities, and this is something that Arab banks cannot bear at all,” Torbey said.

 

http://www.dailystar.com.lb

04/06/2019

Seychelles - The National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Committee, has started work towards its objective of strengthening the Seychelles’ AML/CFT framework.

This is aimed at ensuring compliance with globally accepted standards for AML/CFT, so that the country’s financial system is not put at risk or used for money laundering and terrorism financing purposes.

Following its initial meeting on February 18, 2019, the committee met for a second time this month, at the Ministry of Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, at Liberty House.

The first two meetings focused on highlighting the priorities and urgent tasks that would need to be undertaken by the relevant agencies, through a coordinated approach.

This includes identifying strategies to address issues and implement the recommendations highlighted in Seychelles’ second Mutual Evaluation Report (MER) adopted in September 2018, following an assessment of the country’s AML/CFT framework. This assessment was conducted by the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG).

Addressing these issues in a timely manner is of paramount importance for Seychelles, as non-compliance to international AML/CFT standards set by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), can negatively impact the country’s financial sector soundness and reputation, which ultimately could bring about serious repercussions on the economy. It is under this guise that the AML/CFT committee needs to address the critical issues highlighted in the ESAAMLG evaluation report.

The National AML/CFT committee is also preparing for Seychelles’ participation in the upcoming ESAAMLG Working Group and Plenary meetings, to be held in Arusha, Tanzania, in April this year. During this gathering, Seychelles must demonstrate progress made and steps that are being taken for addressing the various deficiencies identified during the assessment of the country’s AML/CFT framework.

Given the scope of reforms and capacity building required, technical assistance is being sought from the World Bank and the ESAAMLG, as the country embarks on various projects to strengthen its AML/CFT framework. This includes assistance for the relevant regulatory agencies for the implementation of recommendations highlighted in the Mutual Evaluation Report, as well as for the drafting of legislations, including the new Anti-Money Laundering Bill, Proceeds of Crime amendments Bill and Prevention of Terrorism amendments Bill. In addition, the necessary procedures are being undertaken to procure the services of a resident advisor to assist the country. The Cabinet has already approved the proposed work plan, which will span over two years.

It is to be noted that members of the National Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) Committee were appointed in February this year, by the Minister for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning (MFTIEP), Ambassador Maurice Loustau-Lalanne.

It has been tasked with assessing the effectiveness of policies and measures for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism; making recommendations to the Minister for legislative, regulatory and policy reforms in respect of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism; advising the Minister on matters relating to money laundering and the financing of terrorism; as well as promoting co-ordination amongst the relevant institutions and agencies to improve the effectiveness of existing policies in place to combat and deter money laundering and financing of terrorism activities. These will strengthen the country’s AML/CFT regulatory framework in advance of the next evaluation process.

The committee is chaired by the Secretary of State for Finance, Trade, Investment and Economic Planning, Mr. Patrick Payet.

The eight other members are: Attorney General - Mr. Frank Ally, Commissioner of Police – Mr. Kishnan Labonte, Governor of the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS) – Ms. Caroline Abel, Chief Executive of the Anti-Corruption Commission of Seychelles (ACCS) – Ms. May De Silva, Chief Executive of the Financial Services Authority (FSA) – Mr. Steve Fanny, Commissioner General of the Seychelles Revenue Commission (SRC) – Mr. Ronald Cafrine, Registrar General – Mrs. Wendy Pierre and Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) – Mr. Richard Rampal.

The committee members are serving a three-year term and currently meeting on a fortnightly basis.

A sub- technical committee comprising of representatives of the MFTIEP, FSA, FIU, ACCS, CBS, AG’s office, the Seychelles Police, SRC, Office of the Registrar General, the Seychelles Licensing Authority and the Department of Foreign Affairs, has also been set up to work on a new national strategy on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism.

The need for commitment and active engagement of all stakeholders involved in this process have been strongly emphasised.

http://www.finance.gov.sc

04/05/2019

Muscat: Dr. Hamad Bin Salim Al Rawahi, Executive President of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority inaugurated the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) seminar on 'Operations & Cyber Security Risks'.

The evening seminar was held at the Muscat hall of the College of Banking and Financial Studies (CBFS) in Bousher.

Welcoming the delegates at the seminar, Davis Kallukaran, President of ACFE Oman Chapter, said that “Cyber Security risks is the biggest challenge faced by every business.“Billions of dollars in losses have already been discovered. Billions more have gone undetected. Trillions will be stolen, most without detection by the emerging master criminal of the twenty first century, the cyber space offender."

"This was written in 1995 by Criminal Justice Scholar Gene Stephens in his article on Crime in Cyber Spaces. It is our responsibility to reach the message to the general public in all its seriousness,” he added.

The Financial Express reports that the impact of cyber-crime could be greatly damaging to a business in terms of cost on account of disruption of trading, loss of reputation, theft of corporate information and so on.

In the United States 73 per cent of net surfers have fallen to cybercrime which is ranked 3rd after China at 83 per cent and Brazil and India at 76 per cent. Cybercrime affects the society in different ways, it is a criminal act.

According to a report by Symantec, more than 1.5 million people fall victim to cybercrime everyday ranging from simple password theft to extensive monetary swindles with an average cost of US$197 per victim. This add up to more than US$110 billion lost to cybercrime worldwide every year. It affects the very foundation of our modern information society.

Cyber terrorism is yet another serious crime which resort to recruitment and plan attacks on innocent people in countries across the Globe. Bytes are replacing bullets in cybercrime, Kallukaran added.

The talk on Operations and Cyber Crime Risks was delivered by Dr Venkatesh Kallur, Chief Risk Officer Al Izz Islamic Bank.

He said that the finance Industry is top looser in the Cybercrime attacks worldwide. Jose Chacko, Vice President of the Chapter explained the various activities of the Chapter and informed the attendees that the Chapter is continuously updating the members on the development in the profession and also holds training sessions for candidates desirous of becoming a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).

Ishita Mithani ACCA, compered the event which was attended by financial experts from most of the major institutions in Oman including the regulators.

 

https://timesofoman.com

04/04/2019

Gambia’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Monday commenced a three-day anti-money laundering and combating terrorism financing training for lawyers, accountants, notaries and independent legal practitioners at Senegambia beach hotel.

The training, under the support of Strengthening Anti-Money Laundering capacity in West Africa (SAMWA) project aimed at harmonising the implementation of preventive measures on money laundering in The Gambia and within the West Africa sub-region.

It is sponsored by the European Union in collaboration with the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa.

Alagie Darboe, FIU Director and GIABA national correspondent said criminals and criminal entities continue to explore vulnerabilities to launder elicit funds and to finance terrorism, saying that was what compelled them to be conducting series of trainings for people from various sectors.

He said money laundering and terrorism financing are serious menaces to the society with detrimental impacts on national economy particularly in Africa, where drug trafficking, fraud including document fraud, tax evasion, human trafficking, bribery and corruption are very much prevalent.

Mr. Darboe highlighted that money laundering used to be  attributed only to banks and other financial institutions but research have shown that it has become apparent that criminals use several other avenues to launder elicit funds. “Globally, it is estimated that between 1.5 and 3.3 trillion of criminal proceeds are laundered yearly from which an estimated 15 to 60 billion dollars is leaving the sources of Africa.”

Solicitor general and legal secretary Cherno Marena expressed optimism that the capacity-building programme will complement government efforts in combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

He said money laundering and terrorism financing are crimes that have detrimental impacts on countries, saying global trends suggest that money launderers and terrorism financiers are increasingly using designated non-financial businesses and professions to carry out their illicit activities. “It is therefore important to identify vulnerability in our institutions to be able to fix them.”

Mr. Marena noted that the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing has been brought to the doorsteps of legal practitioners, accountants, auditors and notaries, saying that they should fight to protect the integrity of their institutions at all cost.

Baba Barrow, chief executive officer of Gambia Institute of Chartered Accountants said as actors in the DNFBP sector, they are ready to closely work with relevant stakeholders to ensure that their obligations to their clients are not only met but are done in a manner that safeguards the integrity of Gambian financial system, increase investor confidence and investments to promote economic growth in the country.

http://thepoint.gm

04/03/2019

In line with its statutory objective of studying new avenues for development in the financial services sector, responding to new challenges and taking full advantage of new opportunities for achieving economic sustainability and job creation, the Mauritius Financial Services Commission (the "FSC") has issued the Financial Services (Custodian Services (Digital Asset)) Rules 2019 (the "Rules") applicable to any person who wishes to carry out custodian services for digital assets. The Rules enable a holder of a Custodian Services (Digital Asset) Licence (the "Licence") to provide services of safe-keeping of Digital Assets. In its Guidance Note 'Recognition of Digital Assets as an asset-class for investment by Sophisticated and Expert Investor' issued on 17 September 2018, the FSC recognised digital assets as an asset-class for investment by sophisticated and expert investors, and it has now set out the regulatory framework for the custodian of digital assets. This article attempts to provide a summary of the key principles applicable to a custodian of digital assets.

A 'Digital Asset' is defined in the Rules as any token, in electronic or binary form, which is representative of either the holder's access rights to a service or ownership of an asset, and includes a digital representation of value which: (i) is used as a medium of exchange, unit of account, or store of value but which is not legal tender, even if it is denominated in legal tender; (ii) represents assets such as debt or equity; or (iii) provides access to a blockchain-based application, service or product. However, the following is excluded from the definition of 'Digital Asset': (i) any transaction in which a business, as part of an affinity or reward programme, grants value which cannot be exchanged for legal tender, bank credit or any Digital Asset; or (ii) a digital representation of value issued for use within an online gaming platform.

Any person wishing to carry out custody services for digital assets in Mauritius must now apply for a Licence from the FSC. The objects of the applicant must be limited to the safe-keeping of digital asset and operations arising directly from it. The FSC, if satisfied that an application meets the requirements of the Financial Services Act 2007 and the Rules, may issue a letter of intent to the applicant who is then required to demonstrate that it has in place the required resources, infrastructure and staffing to commence business within 6 months from the date of the letter of intent. Where the FSC is satisfied with the arrangements of the applicant, it may then grant the Licence. A custodian of digital assets has the obligation to commence business within 6 months from the date of issue the Licence.

Under the Licence, a custodian of digital assets is required to show that it is adequately staffed with persons having the appropriate competence and experience to properly perform the core functions of a custodian of digital assets. The registered office and place of business of a custodian of digital assets should at all times be maintained in Mauritius. A custodian of digital assets should always have a representative having sufficient knowledge in the operations of the custodian of digital assets, in Mauritius. The minimum capital requirement for a custodian of digital assets is the higher of: (a) 35 million Mauritian Rupees or an equivalent amount in foreign currency; or (b) an amount representing 6 months' operating expenses as reported in the audited financial statements submitted to the FSC. Furthermore, the Rules provides that a custodian of digital assets must have a redundancy system in place to ensure continuity of its operations in the event of any unavailability of equipment, software or primary staff, appropriate disaster recovery facilities, a risk management framework and appropriate infrastructure to ensure continuous operations. A copy of the Rules may be downloaded here.

Finally, it is important to note that being a licensee of the FSC, the custodian of digital assets is considered as a financial institution for the purposes of the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act 2002 and the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Regulations 2018 and therefore has an obligation to comply with all applicable laws, regulations and codes relating to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing in Mauritius including the FSC Code on the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.

http://www.mondaq.com

04/02/2019

Bratislava, 26 March 2019 - Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the Head of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), closed the 2019 OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference on “Taking Stock of Efforts to Prevent and Counter Terrorism as well as Violent Extremism and Radicalization that lead to Terrorism (VERLT) in the OSCE Area”, which was held in Bratislava, Slovakia on 25-26 March 2019.

Thanking the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship for organizing the conference, Mr. Voronkov praised the regional leadership of the OSCE and its comprehensive approach to security, including in combating terrorism. “Opportunities such as this conference are essential to sustain the momentum in our collective effort to respond to the evolving and multifaceted threat from terrorism and terrorist radicalization,” he added.

Mr. Voronkov warned that following its territorial defeat, ISIL is transforming into a covert network that remains a threat as a global organization with centralized leadership. He expressed particular concerns about the spread of toxic propaganda online, the return and relocation of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and their family members, and the fate of children associated with FTFs. He also noted the increasing concern of the international community over emerging terrorist threats, including from racial supremacists and far-right groups.

Mr. Voronkov shared four points that are guiding the work of the UN in response to the growing demand for support from Member States: “First, we need to encourage local solutions. Second, to scale up our work supporting the victims of terrorism, which will assist efforts to build resilience. Third, to take gender aspects into account as a prerequisite to be effective. Fourth, to engage and invest in our youth as partners rather than as a risk we need to mitigate.” As a cross-cutting element, he stressed the importance of civil society engagement to effectively counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism.

Commending the cooperation between the OSCE and UNOCT, Mr. Voronkov said that the two organizations are working on a biennial plan of action following the signature, in October 2018, of a Memorandum of Understanding to lay the groundwork for action-oriented collaboration. The plan of action includes projects to strengthen the capacities of States in Central Asia on most pressing counter-terrorism issues, such as border security.

During the visit to Bratislava, Mr. Voronkov also met with Mr. Thomas Greminger, Secretary-General of the OSCE; Mr. Makis Voridis, Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Countering Terrorism Committee; as well as senior officials from Egypt, the European Union and the United States, among other delegations. The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), was established in June 2017 to provide leadership on the implementation of General Assembly counter-terrorism mandates, to enhance coordination and coherence, and to strengthen the delivery of the United Nations counter-terrorism capacity building assistance to Member States, through the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT).

https://www.un.org

04/02/2019

Bratislava, 26 March 2019 - Under-Secretary-General Vladimir Voronkov, the Head of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), closed the 2019 OSCE-wide Counter-Terrorism Conference on “Taking Stock of Efforts to Prevent and Counter Terrorism as well as Violent Extremism and Radicalization that lead to Terrorism (VERLT) in the OSCE Area”, which was held in Bratislava, Slovakia on 25-26 March 2019.

Thanking the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship for organizing the conference, Mr. Voronkov praised the regional leadership of the OSCE and its comprehensive approach to security, including in combating terrorism. “Opportunities such as this conference are essential to sustain the momentum in our collective effort to respond to the evolving and multifaceted threat from terrorism and terrorist radicalization,” he added.

Mr. Voronkov warned that following its territorial defeat, ISIL is transforming into a covert network that remains a threat as a global organization with centralized leadership. He expressed particular concerns about the spread of toxic propaganda online, the return and relocation of foreign terrorist fighters (FTFs) and their family members, and the fate of children associated with FTFs. He also noted the increasing concern of the international community over emerging terrorist threats, including from racial supremacists and far-right groups.

Mr. Voronkov shared four points that are guiding the work of the UN in response to the growing demand for support from Member States: “First, we need to encourage local solutions. Second, to scale up our work supporting the victims of terrorism, which will assist efforts to build resilience. Third, to take gender aspects into account as a prerequisite to be effective. Fourth, to engage and invest in our youth as partners rather than as a risk we need to mitigate.” As a cross-cutting element, he stressed the importance of civil society engagement to effectively counter terrorism and prevent violent extremism.

Commending the cooperation between the OSCE and UNOCT, Mr. Voronkov said that the two organizations are working on a biennial plan of action following the signature, in October 2018, of a Memorandum of Understanding to lay the groundwork for action-oriented collaboration. The plan of action includes projects to strengthen the capacities of States in Central Asia on most pressing counter-terrorism issues, such as border security.

During the visit to Bratislava, Mr. Voronkov also met with Mr. Thomas Greminger, Secretary-General of the OSCE; Mr. Makis Voridis, Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Countering Terrorism Committee; as well as senior officials from Egypt, the European Union and the United States, among other delegations. The United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT), was established in June 2017 to provide leadership on the implementation of General Assembly counter-terrorism mandates, to enhance coordination and coherence, and to strengthen the delivery of the United Nations counter-terrorism capacity building assistance to Member States, through the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT).

https://www.un.org

Pages