'FINTRAC is recognizing the position reporting entities are in — because money laundering doesn’t stop just because of the coronavirus'
While crooks and terrorists are as susceptible to COVID-19 as other mortals, underworld cash always seems immune, so Canada’s money-laundering monitor has begun triaging financial transaction reports during the pandemic.
Staffing shortages and business disruption forced by the coronavirus prompted the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, known as FINTRAC, to adjust reporting requirements Wednesday.
A long list of businesses must make regular reports to FINTRAC about the movement of clients’ money, including accountants, banks, casinos, real estate brokers, securities dealers and insurance brokers.
As businesses shutter, staff work from home, workers become sick or are laid off, FINTAC faces disruption in getting the routine filing of required transactions reports to help it track criminal money. In response, FINTRAC issued pandemic guidelines to focus on the most urgent cases.
“When it comes to reporting, priority should be given to submitting suspicious transaction reports (STRs). In exceptional circumstances where a reporting entity may be in possession of critical information related to terrorist activity financing but, for some reason, cannot submit the STR in the usual manner, FINTRAC asks that the report or an email be sent to email@example.com,” the notice for reporting businesses and entities says.
“Reporting entities are expected to meet all of their obligations, including in relation to reporting,” the notice warns. “However, FINTRAC understands that some reporting entities may find themselves in a situation where they are required to reassign and reprioritize their internal resources in response to COVID-19, which may affect their ability to meet certain obligations.
The reporting triage seems unavoidable, given the high stakes and declining health situation, said Christine Duhaime, a Vancouver-based lawyer, financial crime advisor and anti-money-laundering specialist. “I think they had to do this — banks and reporting entities are not going to be able to fulfill their obligations to report and nor will FINTRAC be able to answer the phones.
“FINTRAC is recognizing the position reporting entities are in as a result of coronavirus and helping them to prioritize the most crucial obligations — because money laundering doesn’t stop just because of the coronavirus,” said Duhaime.
FINTRAC is also bracing to operate with its own reduce staffing, the agency said. “FINTRAC is monitoring the public environment in relation to COVID-19 and has reprioritized its own supervisory work in the current circumstances. For the time being, we will not be contacting reporting entities to initiate new examinations,” FINTRAC said in its notice.
FINTRAC also warned businesses and other reporting entities about expired government identity cards during the health crisis.
Many, if not all, provincial governments have extended the validity of driver’s licenses, vehicle permits and other government identification that expire during the pandemic.
FINTRAC said if a customer or client presents ID that expired after Mar. 1, the businesses must still determined it is authentic, but it can, until further notice, accept the expired document.
FINTRAC has also ended its phone support because of the high number of calls about COVID-19 on government telephone lines. Inquiries should be made by email instead.
Duhaime thinks COVID-19 will also delay implementation of new anti-money laundering laws coming into force in the summer. “No reporting entities will be able to work on the technology and systems needed to change their systems for the summer any more,” she said.
Coronavirus outbreak sparks a new trend in counterfeit medical items
LYON, France – Counterfeit facemasks, substandard hand sanitizers and unauthorized antiviral medication were all seized under Operation Pangea XIII, which saw police, customs and health regulatory authorities from 90 countries take part in collective action against the illicit online sale of medicines and medical products.
The operation resulted in 121 arrests worldwide and the seizure of potentially dangerous pharmaceuticals worth more than USD 14 million.
Criminals are cashing in on COVID-19
The outbreak of the coronavirus disease has offered an opportunity for fast cash, as criminals take advantage of the high market demand for personal protection and hygiene products.
Law enforcement agencies taking part in Operation Pangea found 2,000 online links advertising items related to COVID-19. Of these, counterfeit surgical masks were the medical device most commonly sold online, accounting for around 600 cases during the week of action.
The seizure of more than 34,000 counterfeit and substandard masks, “corona spray”, “coronavirus packages” or “coronavirus medicine” reveals only the tip of the iceberg regarding this new trend in counterfeiting.
“Once again, Operation Pangea shows that criminals will stop at nothing to make a profit. The illicit trade in such counterfeit medical items during a public health crisis shows their total disregard for people’s wellbeing, or their lives,” said Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL’s Secretary General.
Compared to the week of action in 2018, this latest edition of the operation reported an increase of about 18 per cent in seizures of unauthorized antiviral medication, and an increase of more than 100 per cent in seizures of unauthorized chloroquine (an antimalarial medication), which could also be connected to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Seizures and website closures
During the week of action (3 - 10 March 2020) authorities in participating INTERPOL countries inspected more than 326,000 packages of which more than 48,000 were seized by customs and regulatory authorities.
Overall, authorities seized around 4.4 million units of illicit pharmaceuticals worldwide. Among them were:
-erectile dysfunction pills
-hypnotic and sedative agents
-nervous system agents
More than 37,000 unauthorized and counterfeit medical devices were also seized, the vast majority of which were surgical masks and self-testing kits (HIV and glucose), but also various surgical instruments.
Information received from the participating countries during the operation points to a considerable decrease in international shipments of small parcels (by about 40 per cent), probably due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The operation has already closed down more than 2,500 web links, including websites, social media pages, online marketplaces and online adverts for illicit pharmaceuticals with a similar number in the process of being closed down. The combined efforts of the authorities disrupted the activities of 37 organized crime groups.
Raising public awareness of the risks
Under Operation Pangea XIII, INTERPOL member countries also reached out to the general public – through videos, brochures, exhibitions and talks at hospitals and schools – to raise awareness of the dangers of buying pharmaceuticals from unregulated online sources.
“As reducing demand is an important aspect in Operation Pangea, Malaysia is strongly promoting awareness activities to the public. These include the distribution of car stickers, video broadcasts via electronic billboards as well as radio and television interviews”, said Norlida Binti Abdul Rahman, Senior Principal Assistant Director, Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
Fake medicines often contain the wrong amount of active ingredient (too little, too much, or none at all). In other cases, the medicines may be genuine but have been stolen and then badly stored or may have expired. This means they could be ineffective or contaminated.
CAIRO, (MENA) - The House of Representatives, headed by its Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, initially approved a draft law, submitted by the government, to amend some provisions of law no.80/2002 on anti-money laundering.
On February 25, Abdel Aal referred the bill to the parliament's legislative and constitutional committee.
The bill comes within a framework of Egypt's membership in the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF).
CAIRO, (MENA) - The House of Representatives, headed by its Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, initially approved a draft law, submitted by the government, to amend some provisions of law no.80/2002 on anti-money laundering.
On February 25, Abdel Aal referred the bill to the parliament's legislative and constitutional committee.
The bill comes within a framework of Egypt's membership in the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF).
India’s banking regulator, the Reserve Bank India (RBI), has issued an update regarding how it plans to regulate the country’s Fintech and regulatory technology, or Regtech, industry.
The RBI is establishing three new divisions, which include one unit to regulate Fintech, another unit to oversee Regtech activities, and one to monitor SupTech (technology to supervise) activities.
These units will be tasked with creating various tools to regulate and manage the operations of local financial service providers and other regulated entities, such as Fintech firms, payment banks, and small finance banks. The RBI said it will be announcing updates regarding these developments in the coming days.
At present, it’s not clear exactly how these new units will operate. They might function independently or under the guidance or supervision of existing departments that support the nation’s government.
Shaktikanta Das, governor of the RBI, told BloombergQuint that the Indian central bank will be establishing a new department that will promote the adoption of new technologies for India’s banking and non-banking services.
Das noted that the department will oversee developments related to digital transformation and Fintech.
Suptech is a term used to refer to technologies which are used by the regulatory agencies and supervisors to carry out supervision duties. SupTech is used to collect data more efficiently, performing reporting, data analysis, decision making, licensing, and surveillance. Das remarked:
“As regards potential risks and their mitigation, Regtech and Suptech have an important role. Regulators and supervisors have to undertake accelerated off-site surveillance. It also brings in the need for a transparent, technology, and data-driven approach. To serve this need, new fields called RegTech and SupTech are coming up.”
The RBI said it will be using Regtech and Suptech to perform Big Data analytics. Regtech and Suptech will also be used along with artificial intelligence, machine learning, cloud computing, geographic information system (GIS) mapping, and biometrics, in order to improve routine work procedures. Das added:
“Fintech has the potential to reshape the financial services and financial inclusion landscape in India in fundamental ways. It can reduce costs and improve access and quality of financial services.”
Criminals taking advantage of coronavirus anxiety to defraud victims online
LYON, France – INTERPOL is encouraging the public to exercise caution when buying medical supplies online during the current health crisis, with criminals capitalizing on the situation to run a range of financial scams.
With surgical masks and other medical supplies in high demand yet difficult to find in retail stores as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, fake shops, websites, social media accounts and email addresses claiming to sell these items have sprung up online.
But instead of receiving the promised masks and supplies, unsuspecting victims have seen their money disappear into the hands of the criminals involved.
This is one of several types of financial fraud schemes connected to the ongoing global health crisis which have been reported to INTERPOL by authorities in its member countries.
COVID-19 fraud schemes
Scams linked to the virus include:
-Telephone fraud – criminals call victims pretending to be clinic or hospital officials, who claim that a relative of the victim has fallen sick with the virus and request payments for medical treatment;
-Phishing – emails claiming to be from national or global health authorities, with the aim of tricking victims to provide personal credentials or payment details, or to open an attachment containing malware.
In many cases, the fraudsters impersonate legitimate companies, using similar names, websites and email addresses in their attempt to trick unsuspecting members of the public, even reaching out proactively via emails and messages on social media platforms.
“Criminals are exploiting the fear and uncertainty created by COVID-19 to prey on innocent citizens who are only looking to protect their health and that of their loved ones,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
“Anyone who is thinking of buying medical supplies online should take a moment and verify that you are in fact dealing with a legitimate, reputable company, otherwise your money could be lost to unscrupulous criminals,” concluded the INTERPOL Chief.
Blocking and recovering fraudulent payments
Monetary loses reported to INTERPOL have been as high as hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single case, and these crimes are crossing international borders.
INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes Unit is receiving information from member countries on a near-daily basis regarding fraud cases and requests to assist with stopping fraudulent payments. Targeted victims have primarily been located in Asia, but the criminals have used bank accounts located in other regions such as Europe, to appear as legitimate accounts linked to the company which is being impersonated.
In one case, a victim in Asia made payments to several bank accounts unknowingly controlled by criminals in multiple European countries. With INTERPOL’s assistance, national authorities were able to block some of the payments, but others were quickly transferred by the criminals to second and even third bank accounts before they could be traced and blocked.
To date, INTERPOL has assisted with some 30 COVID-19 related fraud scam cases with links to Asia and Europe, leading to the blocking of 18 bank accounts and freezing of more than USD 730,000 in suspected fraudulent transactions. INTERPOL has also issued a Purple Notice alerting police in all its 194 member countries to this new type of fraud.
If you are looking to buy medical supplies online, or receive emails or links offering medical support, be alert to the signs of a potential scam to protect yourself and your money.
-Independently verify the company/individual offering the items before making any purchases;
-Be aware of bogus websites – criminals will often use a web address which looks almost identical to the legitimate one, e.g. ‘abc.org’ instead of ‘abc.com’;
-Check online reviews of a company before making a purchase – for example, have there been complaints of other customers not receiving the promised items?;
-Be wary if asked to make a payment to a bank account located in a different country than where the company is located;
-If you believe you have been the victim of fraud, alert your bank immediately so the payment can be stopped.
-Do not click on links or open attachments which you were not expecting to receive, or come from an unknown sender;
-Be wary of unsolicited emails offering medical equipment or requesting your personal information for medical checks -legitimate health authorities do not normally contact the general public in this manner.
Dutch tax enforcers with the Netherlands’ Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Services (FIOD) arrested two men Monday for allegedly laundering millions of euros in cryptocurrency, according to a joint statement by the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement (J5).
FIOD arrested the Dutch nationals in separate crypto tax evasion investigations, recovering about 260,000 in unnamed cryptocurrencies and more than 6.6 pounds of gold. Credit and debit cards holding crypto and euros were also seized, among other items.
One of the suspects is alleged to have used the defunct bitcoin mixing service Bestmixer.io.
FIOD has stepped up its crypto policing recently. Working with tax authorities from the U.K., U.S., Australia and Canada – collectively, the J5 – agents have been sharing tips and data since 2018.
One of the biggest data dumps came shortly after FIOD seized and shuttered bestmixer.io. That May 2019 operation yielded reams of user data in IP addresses and bitcoin addresses, which FIOD then shared at a crypto tax summit in Los Angeles late last year.
“The J5 challenge in the United States at the end of 2019 was important in our fight against crypto criminality,” FIOD’s chief, Hans van der Vlist, said in a joint J5 statement. “The operational cooperation within the J5 is beginning to pay off.”
More bestmixer.io arrests may be around the corner; the J5 said further investigations “cannot be ruled out.”
Britain is expected to announce this week a new levy on banks and other firms regulated for anti-money laundering to raise up to 100 million pounds to tackle dirty money, the government said on Saturday.
London has long attracted corrupt foreign money, especially from Russia, Nigeria, Pakistan, former Soviet states and Asia, and the police estimate that around 100 billion pounds of dirty money is moved through or into Britain each year.
In his first budget on Wednesday, finance minister Rishi Sunak is expected to unveil plans for an Economic Crime Levy to generate cash for new technology for law enforcement and to hire more financial investigators.
The levy is likely to come into force in 2022/23 and the Treasury will consult in the Spring about which firms will be asked to contribute.
“Criminals will have nowhere left to hide their illicit earnings,” Sunak said in a statement. “We’re going to put more financial investigators and better technology on the frontline to fight against money laundering.”
Last year the government and business leaders agreed an Economic Crime Plan to try to better tackle dirty money with more cash for police to tackle fraudsters and money launderers, and improved information sharing.
LAGOS (Reuters) - The United States and the British dependency of Jersey have agreed with Nigeria to repatriate more than $300 million in funds stolen by former military ruler General Sani Abacha, the three governments said.
Abacha ruled Nigeria, Africa’s biggest oil producer, from 1993 until his death in 1998.
Corruption watchdog Transparency International estimates he stole as much as $5 billion of public money during that time.
He was never charged with corruption during his life and Nigeria has been fighting for years to recover the money.
Companies linked to the Abacha family have gone to court to prevent repatriation, alleging infringement of their rights to a fair trial.
The governments of Nigeria, Jersey and the United States said in a statement they had entered into an asset recovery agreement to repatriate forfeited assets to Nigeria.
The Nigerian government pegged the total amount at $321 million.
The funds were laundered through the U.S. banking system and then held in bank accounts in Jersey in the name of Doraville Properties Corporation, a British Virgin Islands company, and in the name of the son of the ex-military ruler, they said.
“This agreement has culminated in a major victory for Nigeria and other African countries as it recognizes that crime does not pay and that it is important for the international community to seek for ways to support sustainable development through the recovery and repatriation of stolen assets,” Nigerian Attorney General Abubakar Malami said.
Nigeria has been working with governments around the world in recent years on an asset recovery scheme to help repatriate its stolen funds to boost its finances. The government did not state how much in total it believes Abacha stole. As at 2013, Nigeria had recovered about $1.3 billion of Abacha’s money from various European jurisdictions, with more than a third of that from Switzerland.
The Swiss government in 2017 said it would return to Nigeria about $321 million in assets seized from Abacha’s family via a deal signed with the World Bank. Abacha’s laundering operation extended to the United States and European jurisdictions such as Britain, France, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Luxembourg, the statement said.
His family, which has never admitted nor denied that funds were stolen, could not be reached for comment and their present whereabouts were not known.
In a separate news release, the U.S. Department of Justice said it is seeking to enforce forfeiture judgments for approximately $30 million in assets located in Britain and more than $144 million in France.
In 2014 a U.S. court forfeited the money as property involved in the illicit laundering of the proceeds of corruption arising in Nigeria during the five years when Abacha was head of state. Negotiations for repatriation commenced in 2018.
The funds would be administered by Nigeria’s sovereign wealth fund and would be used to develop road infrastructure, that will boost supply chain connections and economic growth, Malami said.
The Fintech Landscape in Lithuania report, a yearly study providing a snapshot of Lithuania’s Fintech sector, was released.
The report, which looks at the state of Fintech in 2019, confirms the continuation of the strong growth trend of previous years, with the number of Fintechs increasing by 24% to 210 and the number of jobs in the Fintech sector increasing by over 30% to 3,400. The report foreshadows the trend to continue into 2020, with important growth in the number of Fintechs, jobs and further diversification and sophistication. In addition, regulatory innovations are poised to make the sector more robust and competitive.
“We want Lithuania to pioneer new areas in which Fintech can play a major role. The development of the Fintech sector is one of the government’s priorities. We will continue to provide incentives for the creation of new programs that promote innovative financial services, while strengthening our capabilities in terms of security. It will be key for us to continue the seamless collaboration we’ve seen across institutions so far, something that sets us apart from the rest of the world,” said Vilius Šapoka, Lithuania’s Minister of Finance.
“The study shows Fintechs are continuing to flock to Lithuania, but also maturing and shaping a more sophisticated ecosystem, with more private investment expected in 2020. Our capital Vilnius is now among the top 4 Fintech hubs globally as well as the most attractive destination for FDI in terms of tech startups. Despite these successes, we want to boost our ecosystem further to become even more competitive and attractive for Fintechs and high-skilled talent from abroad,” said Mantas Katinas, General Manager of Invest Lithuania.
“The Lithuanian Fintech success story of the past four years has demonstrated that regulators can play a positive role in fostering an ecosystem and facilitating innovation while protecting consumers. As we consolidate our position even further, we will be paying closer attention to the challenges and risks that come with growth, while providing Fintechs with new avenues and spaces to innovate further,” said Marius Jurgilas, Member of the Board of the Bank of Lithuania. Jurgilas is credited with playing a major role in the creation and success of Lithuania’s Fintech regime.
Over the last year, the Fintech sector has seen growing diversification, with a significant increase in the number of companies engaged in digital banking, lending, regtech and identity. The landscape continues to be led by companies in the payments and remittances services area, with 78 companies.
The report also indicates a positive outlook for 2020 in terms of revenue, capital raising and market consolidation. Around a fifth of fintechs expect to raise at least €5 million over the coming year, and 16% expect to raise between €1 to €3 million. Companies in Regtech, wealth management and digital currency expect the strongest growth.
The number of Fintechs in Lithuania is expected to rise beyond 250 by the end of 2020, and the trend towards diversification is expected to continue. An increase in demand for special purpose bank licences and other types of licences is expected, as suggested by the growth in the number of digital banking and personal finance businesses in 2019.
Jobs are expected to grow at a similar rate to that of 2019, adding over a thousand new positions in 2020, with demand focused on IT, software development, compliance & AML, and business development. Lithuania’s rapid economic growth and rising standards of living are expected to attract a significant number of Lithuanian expats to return from abroad, as well as international professionals looking to relocate in 2020. On the governmental side, important development of the sector‘s infrastructure is anticipated.
New sandboxes to facilitate the growth of Fintech startups are planned. However, the Bank of Lithuania’s priority will be developing the country‘s robustness of risk mitigation and cybersecurity, with the focus on AML and CFT. To this regard, the Bank of Lithuania is planning to create an innovative, fast response risk-assessment framework with near real-time insights-based supervision.
On 26-27 February 2020, in collaboration with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Republic of Moldova, the CLEP Project organised a two-day training on Terrorist Financing Risk Assessment for representatives of law enforcement institutions and supervisory entities.
The participants were presented with the latest terrorist financing typologies, trends and challenges faced by specific sectors. Participants also discussed with the Council of Europe expert the FATF guidance on assessing terrorist financing risks and the Council of Europe anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing National Risk Assessment Methodology.
The representative of the Moldovan FIU presented the country’s upcoming national risk assessment process, while the representative of the Security and Information Service discussed the risk of terrorism and terrorist financing in the Republic of Moldova, main typologies identified by the Service and potential terrorist financing threats to the country.
The event served as a good opportunity for the law enforcement institutions, supervisory entities and FIU to discuss best ways to address MONEYVAL’s recommendations on terrorist financing risk assessment and clarify the role of all involved actors, considering best international practices presented by the Council of Europe expert.
6 March 2020 - The number of digital transactions are growing at an estimated 12.7 % annually. By 2022, an estimated 60% of global GDP will be digitised.
In any financial transaction, knowing your customer is essential to ensure that the funds involved are not linked with crime and terrorism. However, in a digital context, traditional verification tools do not apply.
The FATF has developed guidance that will help governments, financial institutions, virtual asset service providers and other regulated entities determine whether a digital ID is appropriate for use for customer due diligence.
Reliable digital ID can make it easier, cheaper and more secure to identify individuals in the financial sector. It can also help with transaction monitoring requirements and minimise weaknesses in human control measures.
Digital ID systems are evolving rapidly. To determine whether a digital ID is suitable, governments, financial institutions and other stakeholders should:
1-Understand the assurance levels of the digital ID system’s technology, architecture and governance.
2-Given its assurance levels, determine whether it is appropriately reliable, independent in light of potential risks that it is used to facilitate illicit finance.
With 1.7 billion unbanked adults worldwide and 26% of them citing lack of documentation as the primary barrier, digital ID offers another important benefit.
A robust digital ID can allow individuals without a traditional identification to nonetheless have a robust form of identification to access financial services and improve financial inclusion.
This guidance is technology-neutral, and has benefitted from a public consultation with the private sector.
Cayman Islands - Government has updated a plan to strategically address the Cayman Islands’ risks from money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The updated strategy, which already has been implemented, builds upon Cayman’s previous 2017 strategy and is available on the government’s Anti-Money Laundering Unit’s website.
The Cayman Islands Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Strategy 2019-2022 covers six core themes:
Updated laws and regulations – They include an improved legal and regulatory framework with amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Law; Anti-Money Laundering Regulations, Terrorism Law; and Proliferation Financing (Prohibition) Law, among others.
Risk-based supervisory framework – To implement a comprehensive risk-based supervisory framework, regulators have enhanced their methodologies to ensure they can identify, among the entities they supervise, the ones that are most vulnerable to being misused for money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing, the Ministry of Financial Services said in a press release. More resources have been devoted to those areas of greater risk. In addition, Cayman has conducted several risk assessments, including a review of terrorist financing risks, certain registrants under the Securities Investments Business Law, and risks of non-profit organisations.
Stronger investigations and enforcement – To strengthen capabilities in intelligence, investigations and enforcement, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has established an Interim Pro-active Task Force and will soon open a permanent Bureau of Financial Investigations. The Financial Reporting Authority has implemented systems that allow anyone to sign up via the FRA’s website to receive updates on lists of targeted financial sanctions.
Better cooperation and coordination – The Financial Crime Focus Group; the Proliferation Financing Interagency Group; and the Supervisor’s Forum have been established to ensure domestic cooperation and coordination in the areas of pro-active investigations.
International cooperation – Supervisors and law enforcement agencies have implemented enhanced policies and procedures to request assistance and seek feedback from their overseas counterparts to improve international cooperation.
Public awareness – Government and supervisory agencies have organised events and public-awareness initiatives in the media to ensure that businesses in Cayman are up to date on their anti-money laundering responsibilities. In addition, Cayman’s Anti-Money Laundering Unit is planning to launch a new website.
It also means that AUSTRAC could easily share intelligence with financial institutions, and vice versa.
The Department of Home Affairs has claimed if the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Amendment and Other Legislation Bill 2019 (AML/CTF Bill) is passed, it has the potential to deliver AU$1.3 billion in regulatory cost savings.
The Bill was introduced to Parliament in October and would be an amendment to the AML/CTF Act 2006.
Speaking to the Select Committee of Financial Technology and Regulatory Technology, Department of Home Affairs National Security and Law Enforcement Policy Division First Assistant Secretary Hamish Hansford explained how the proposed changes would enable Open Banking to operate more easily.
"One thing the bill does is it tries to make it a lot easier to rely on customer due diligence that has been undertaken by other entities that meet certain standards," he said on Friday.
"Another element goes to how Austrac discloses information. There are quite prohibitive elements in the AML/CTF Act -- and particularly with the Fintel Alliance that Austrac runs -- [it] was to make sure Austrac could share intelligence easily with financial institutions, and vice versa."
Hansford did not say over what period of time the money would be saved.
Westpac had previously said it would cough up AU$25 million to improve cross-border and cross-industry data sharing and analysis as one of the "immediate fixes" as part of its response plan, following issues raised by the Austrac.
The anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulator applied to the Federal Court of Australia alleging Westpac was involved in "systemic non-compliance" with the AML/CTF Act on over 23 million occasions. This resulted in the bank's then-chief executive Brian Hartzer stepping down from his role.
In September, Austrac ordered an external audit of PayPal Australia's compliance with the AML/CTF Act, which would examine the local operation's International Funds Transfer Instruction reporting obligations. Under these obligations, regulated entities are required to report the transfer of funds or property to or from Australia.
In 2017, CBA had found itself in similar hot waters after Austrac claimed that the bank was involved in "serious and systemic non-compliance" with the AML/CTF Act. Since then Commonwealth Bank of Australia has invested heavily in internal technology, including for AML/CTF Act compliance.
On Friday, Hansford was also blasted by Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security over extensive gaps in their oversight of Australia's mandatory data retention laws. Labor's Anthony Byrne, a former chair of the committee, said that PJCIS had been told if the metadata laws were passed, section 280 access under the Telecommunications Act 1997 would be stopped. This hasn't happened, however.
Hansford's response was that there is in fact "comprehensive reporting" and "clear governance arrangements" for the 21 authorised agencies under the TIA Act. "What we're talking about in the Telecommunications Act is about data access, not related to the data retention regime," Hansford said.
"It's a general access power, as opposed to all the safeguards that this committee recommended, and the parliament eventually legislated for, which is outlined in the TIA Act," he said. "So I think the concern that you have is in relation to access to data rather than the data retention regime in the 21 agencies. And I think there is a big, distinct difference."
Byrne would have none of it and shut down Hansford's arguments. "You've indicated to me that you're not seriously wanting to address the issue. I'm extremely annoyed about the issue, and I'll pursue it in another forum," he said. "Park it. Park it. I don't want to hear any more from you ... That's it. I'm done. Don't talk."
-The region of Latin America is witnessing a different perspective on cryptocurrency.
-Cryptocurrencies were mostly used in money laundering in Latin America.
-The Crypto exchange and companies in Latin America do not know most of the customers.
The influence of cryptocurrency and Blockchain is widely expected to bring positive changes to one’s nation. The region of Latin America is witnessing a different perspective on cryptocurrency.
A study conducted by IntSights depicted that cryptocurrencies were mostly used in money laundering in Latin America, especially Bitcoin, given its advantage of privacy and non-traceability on its network.
Previously it would be a certain group or individual on the internet or dark web utilizing the opportunity for money laundering which was widespread on the globe. But this is a surprise that the whole nation of Latin America is witnessing Money Laundering on a high level using Bitcoin and other decentralized cryptos.
The detailed investigation by the media company IntSight shared that the Crypto exchange and companies in Latin America do not know most of the customers or the users on the platform or have not collected and stored personal data of the users engaging on the platform.
The companies have also not implemented global rules made by international organizations and legal governing bodies to combat the illegal use of cryptocurrencies on exchanges such as money laundering.
In recent time the investments on the cryptocurrency in the Latin American region has seen a surge while the scammers and money launderers continue to do transactions with cryptocurrencies exchange and ATMs.
Previously many of the cryptocurrency exchange firm heads have been arrested for facilitating the illegal activities. However, there has been no implementation of any security cover on these issues whatsoever by the exchange governing bodies and financial management.
This is the main drawback of the Bitcoin and other decentralized altcoins which can be easily manipulated in the market and can be hacked without notice if an individual or an exchange company does not implement proper guidelines and security measures.
This also falls as the main reason why the government of nations is not fully utilizing the cryptocurrency to replace the age-old traditional currencies while only Blockchain technology is favored.
The INTERPOL Global Academy is a global network of trusted law enforcement education institutions
SEOUL, Republic of Korea – On 12 February 2020, the Korean National Police University (KNPU) officially became a member of the INTERPOL Global Academy following a signing ceremony between Ms Lee Eun Jung, President of the Korean National Police University (KNPU), and Mr Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General.
Launched in 2019, the INTERPOL Global Academy is a network of trusted law enforcement education institutions of national or regional scope that facilitates the development of a global approach to law enforcement training through the exchange of best practices. As a member of the Global Academy, the KNPU will deliver specialized INTERPOL courses to law enforcement officials in Asia.
Provided with cutting-edge curricula on a range of topics and with access to INTERPOL’s distance learning platform, the KNPU will contribute to the upskilling of officials across the region.
“We are very excited to welcome the KNPU on board and are confident that their participation will help expand the influence and reach of the INTERPOL Global Academy,” said Jorge Fainstein Day Gastrell, Acting Director of INTERPOL’s Capacity Building and Training Directorate. “The more officials we can train on INTERPOL policing capabilities and on specific transnational crime topics, the more we can strengthen global efforts to prevent and fight crime.”
The KNPU is the second member to join the Global Academy after Colombia formally joined the network as a member for the Americas in 2019. Five more members are expected to join in 2020, covering other world regions.
The first meeting of Global Academy members is scheduled to take place during the 22nd INTERPOL Police Training Symposium, which will be held at the National Police Academy of Spain in July. The previous Symposium was held at the KNPU in 2018.
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 2)— The Bureau of Customs is set to launch a probe with the Anti-Money Laundering Council on the huge amounts of cash brought into the country by alleged foreign syndicates.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has ordered the two agencies to “closely coordinate” with each other in investigating the influx of foreign currencies in the past months, the department said in a statement Monday.
BOC earlier reported that in 2019, an estimated $370 million or ₱18.8 billion was brought into the country by two groups— one of which supposedly involved Chinese nationals, BOC reported.
“The BOC chief recommended to Dominguez the creation of an interagency body to keep tabs on the inflow of foreign currency into the country via the country’s ports of entry, and to recommend measures to deter the use of these funds for illegal activities,” the statement read.
The Senate is also set to conduct its own investigation on the issue, which was first brought into the limelight by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee chairman Richard Gordon. The lawmaker earlier revealed that some Chinese visitors who arrived in the Philippines from December to February brought in a total of $180 million or roughly ₱9.1 billion.
The money has been declared for gambling and investment purposes, but Gordon raised concerns over the amount and intent of the Chinese visitors.
“Magca-casino lang sila at investments. Ang nakakapagtaka, bakit malaki,” Gordon told CNN Philippines’ Balitaan. “Nakikita ko rin, namimili sila ng bahay, condo (minium). Nakaka-base sila dito.”
[Translation: They said they will just gamble and use the money for investments. What’s surprising is the huge amount. I can also see some of them are living here, at condominiums. They are now based here.]
Billions brought into PH by POGO
Senator Risa Hontiveros meanwhile said she and her colleagues in the upper chamber believe the huge sum of money may have been funneled into the country by Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) workers.
“I think sense naming lahat ng paglabag sa ating bansa ay kaladkad ito ng mga POGOs. Nagmumukha na itong invasion dahil bukod sa tax evasion at national security threat, dala-dala pa ang paglabag sa karapatan ng kababaihan at mga bata,” Hontiveros said in a chance interview with reporters.
[Translation: I think we have all sensed that this was brought in by the POGOs. This now seems like an invasion because aside from tax evasion and national security threat, there are also violations in the rights of women and children.]
Hontiveros also renewed her call for the suspension of all POGO operations, as authorities look into the numerous issues hounding the gaming industry.
Gordon added the proliferation of POGOs should be a cause of concern, adding the government may have become “too friendly and accommodating” to the Chinese community.
“Hindi naman sinasabing kaaway natin, but dapat (we’re not saying we should go against them, but instead), we must be careful of our strategic interests. It's a national security concern here, and there are economic implications,” he added.
Malacañang, for its part, said it would wait for the investigations of law enforcement authorities and the Senate.
China last week began its crackdown on its nationals working illegally for POGOs. The Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality has also begun dissecting the alleged violations committed by some Chinese nationals and POGO workers, including the supposed airport pay-off or "pastillas" scheme and online sex trafficking schemes.
The first meeting of the G20 Anti-Corruption Working Group, in Jeddah on Thursday, has urged pursuing international cooperation on global anti-corruption challenges including the cost of corruption and its impact on the global gross domestic product (GDP).
The ACWG met for the first time under the Saudi G20 Presidency this week, following the announcement by the Saudi Control and Anti-Corruption Authority (NAZAHA) that the working group will hold a minister meeting this year.
Chair of the ACWG Dr. Nassar Abaalkhail highlighted the importance of continuing to address corruption and promoting integrity and accountability in order to foster growth.
Abaalkhail asserted that the ACWG will continue to pursue international cooperation on many global anti-corruption challenges including asset recovery, foreign bribery, and beneficial ownership transparency.
The meeting focused on the achievements and next steps looking forward to implementing the Anti-Corruption 2019-2021 Action Plan.
Delegates addressed the use of new technologies to boost integrity, while promoting a comprehensive approach to developing anti-corruption policies. Member countries were encouraged to share their best practices regarding integrity within Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).
The G-20 states agreed on the Action Plan in Buenos Aires in 2018. G-20 Members committed to working on the development and implementation of proper mechanisms to adopt G-20 agreements in anti-corruption.
In the framework of this plan, G-20 members will also look forward to developing targeted actions where the G-20 can best add value in promoting international efforts in the fight against corruption.
The ACWG is committed to continuing their work focused on promoting international efforts in the fight against corruption, and during 2020 delegates will continue discussing previous agreements and sharing good practices to foster transparency.
Bangladesh - A day-long workshop on "Prevention of Money Laundering & Combating the Financing of Terrorism" was held at World Trade Center, Agrabad, Chattogram recently.
A.K.M. Mohiuddin Azad, Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank, inaugurated the workshop as the chief guest while Mosleh Uddin Ahmed, Managing Director & CEO of NCC Bank, was present as special guest.
Besides, Khondoker Nayeemul Kabir, Deputy Managing Director, Md. Abdullah-al-Kafi Mazumder, EVP & Head of Marketing & Branches Division, Faisal Ahmed, SVP & Head of HRD and Md. Abdul Wahab, SVP & Deputy CAMLCO were also present on the occasion. Executives & Officers of Chattogram-based branches participated in the workshop.
The Executive Director of Bangladesh Bank in his speech advised the participants to follow the directives of Bangladesh Bank and other regulatory bodies properly and highlighted the importance of AML & CFT in individual life and at national level. He also provided few directives regarding the prevention of money laundering.
Mosleh Uddin Ahmed, Managing Director & CEO of NCC Bank, instructed the participants of the workshop to learn all core issues properly for preventing the money laundering & terrorist financing and uphold the image of all concerned through regular operation. He also emphasized the role & responsibilities of BAMALCO to prevent of Money Laundering & Terrorist Financing. He advised bank officials to become more careful when opening a bank account, transferring fund and keeping complete customer information related to customer identity.
China’s central bank has increased the punishment for financial institutions that fail to adequately guard against money laundering, imposing fines of over 10 million yuan ($1.4 million) for the first time ever.
China Minsheng Banking and China Everbright Bank were fined 23.6 million yuan and 18.2 million yuan respectively for failing to properly perform required customer ID checks, keep customer data and transaction records, and report large or suspicious transactions, said statements posted Friday on the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) website. They were also accused of conducting transactions with unidentified customers.
The PBOC also fined brokerage Huatai Securities 10.1 million yuan for similar violations.
Regulators last year signaled an end to the practice of fining institutions a few hundred thousand yuan for money laundering violations and the start of an era of dramatically higher penalties, a senior bank compliance insider told Caixin.
The central bank has strengthened money laundering regulations in recent years. In 2018, it doled out penalties totaling nearly 190 million yuan for violations, 41% more than the previous year.