E.g., 08/22/2019
E.g., 08/22/2019
08/21/2019

Doha - The Ministry of Justice and the Regulatory Authority for Charitable Activities (RACA) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), under which the two parties shall act in accordance with the provisions of Law No. (4) of 2010 on combating money laundering and the terrorism financing, and other relevant laws in the competence of each party with the powers and functions specified in the law.

These competence and tasks constitute the basis of the joint mechanism of action between the two parties in the field of coordination and exchange of information related to combating money laundering and terrorism funding between the Ministry of Justice and RACA.

On this occasion, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice, Sultan bin Abdullah Al Suwaidi, explained that the provisions of this memorandum are only a translation and confirmation of Qatar’s firm approach to combating money laundering and terrorism funding in accordance with the provisions of Law No. 4 of 2010.

For his part, Director General of the RACA, Ibrahim Abdullah Al Duhaimi, said that the joint working mechanism will contribute to the consolidation of efforts to combat money laundering and terrorism funding.

This mechanism will contribute to enhancing cooperation between the two parties through understanding, analysing and evaluating risks, and exchanging experiences related to money laundering and terrorism funding.

 

https://thepeninsulaqatar.com

08/20/2019

Egypt has made large strides in fighting money-laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said Tuesday.

Madbouly said that his country has come up with legislative and supervisory tools to identify persons involved in money laundering and terrorism financing.

Terrorist attacks in Egypt have increased since Muslim Brotherhood-affliated Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in 2013. Egypt considers the group a terrorist organization and accuses it of carrying out most of the attacks by receiving funds from certain countries in the region.

Madbouly inaugurated on Tuesday an annual workshop, hosted by the Egyptian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Combating Unit (EMLCU), on capacity building in the Middle East and Africa region.

Speaking at the workshop, the PM said Egyptian measures to identify agents in various financial institutions are in line with international standards related to money laundering and terrorism financing that are defined by international organizations, topped by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. 

He said that money laundering and terrorism financing are the most serious threats to the stability of the global financial and economic systems. 

He warned that no country, no matter how powerful, is immune from terrorism, calling for drying out the sources of terrorism financing by stopping the support for terror groups and organizations.

 

https://aawsat.com

08/20/2019

Egypt has made large strides in fighting money-laundering and countering the financing of terrorism, Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said Tuesday.

Madbouly said that his country has come up with legislative and supervisory tools to identify persons involved in money laundering and terrorism financing.

Terrorist attacks in Egypt have increased since Muslim Brotherhood-affliated Mohamed Morsi’s ouster in 2013. Egypt considers the group a terrorist organization and accuses it of carrying out most of the attacks by receiving funds from certain countries in the region.

Madbouly inaugurated on Tuesday an annual workshop, hosted by the Egyptian Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Combating Unit (EMLCU), on capacity building in the Middle East and Africa region.

Speaking at the workshop, the PM said Egyptian measures to identify agents in various financial institutions are in line with international standards related to money laundering and terrorism financing that are defined by international organizations, topped by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units. 

He said that money laundering and terrorism financing are the most serious threats to the stability of the global financial and economic systems. 

He warned that no country, no matter how powerful, is immune from terrorism, calling for drying out the sources of terrorism financing by stopping the support for terror groups and organizations.

 

https://aawsat.com

08/19/2019

According to the latest reports, one of the biggest banks in the Philippines, called the Union Bank of the Philippines Inc., has introduced its digital currency. Thus, the bank which is more commonly referred to as UnionBank has now become the nation’s first bank to have conducted transactions utilizing the technology of blockchain. As reported by The Philippine Star, the bank has already carried out its first digital currency transaction as well.

UnionBank’s cryptocurrency is a stablecoin named PHX that is pegged to the nation’s currency Peso (PHP). The transactions involving PHX are done on the blockchain platform of the bank, named i2i, that links the bank with the rural banks.

UnionBank’s senior vice president as well as the fintech business group’s head, Arvie de Vera, was quoted as saying, “PHX is a medium of exchange, stable store of value, and a programmable token with self-executing logic.” de Vera also added that it facilitates automatic and transparent payments execution.

As per the reports, three rural banks of the Philippines namely the Progressive Bank in the Visayas, the Cantilan Bank in Mindanao, and the Summit Rural Bank in Luzon have finished live transactions successfully on the bank’s i2i blockchain network. These rural banks utilized UnionBank’s crypto PHX for carrying out a few transactions, including a transfer, purchase, domestic remittances, and redemption.

Continuing further, de Vera said that design assures the governance and past reconciliation challenges aren’t an issue anymore. In the meantime, compliance and audit are made simpler.

In the inceptive phase, all the participants on the i2i platform will be able to purchase the stablecoin PHX through direct debits from their UnionBank accounts. Moreover, it will become possible for them to redeem the stablecoin for Peso easily in addition to getting the funds credited to their UnionBank accounts.

It was also revealed that because of the interoperable design of PHX, it might be utilized across various wallets and platforms on a global level. It has the capacity of making the payments, transactions, and additional use cases all the more efficient, inclusive, and accessible.

For those who came in late, i2i project refers to island-to-island, individual-to-individual, and institution-to-institution. It is a clearing system of UnionBank which links rural banks through the technology of blockchain. There are 5 rural banks in the Philippines so far that have piloted the project i2i.

Apart from that, the bank has also successfully piloted blockchain-backed remittance from Singapore to the Philippines using PHX recently. It was run in collaboration with OCBC Bank of Singapore. Earlier in the year, the bank had also introduced the nation’s first cryptocurrency ATM giving locals an easy means to exchange fiat and digital currencies.

 

https://www.cryptonewsz.com

08/17/2019

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s financial watchdog is poised to approve a first tranche of cryptocurrency-related companies under new rules on digital coins, some of the first such regulations to be launched by a major economy.

Under the rules, set to come into force late this month, crypto-related firms will voluntarily abide by standards on capital requirements and consumer protection and pay tax in France, in exchange for approval from the regulator.

“France is a precursor. We will have a legal, tax and regulatory framework,” said Anne Marechal, executive director for legal affairs at the Financial Markets Authority.

“We are in talks with three or four candidates for initial coin offerings (ICOs),” she said, referring to companies that raise funds by issuing digital tokens. The watchdog is also in talks with several other cryptocurrency exchange platforms, custodians and fund managers, she added.

Cryptocurrencies are subject to patchy rules across the world, with the technology remaining mostly unregulated. While some smaller countries from Belarus to Malta have brought in specific laws, major economies have tended to applying existing financial rules.

https://www.reuters.com

08/16/2019

Thailand’s anti-money laundering regulator is planning to amend the country’s laws to include cryptocurrency.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, Police Major General Preecha Charoensahayanon, secretary-general of the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO), said he believes that, while currently not an issue, cryptocurrency “will be a tool of new money laundering.”

Preecha said that Amlo currently does not receive complaints around money laundering involving cryptocurrencies, but warned: "We may not find any clue, but that doesn’t mean the wrongdoing does not occur."

The secretary-general argued that criminals will increasingly turn to digital assets to conceal their ill-gotten proceeds.

To prepare for this shift, he told the Bangkok Post he plans to alter the country’s laws to bring cryptos into the AML regime, starting with the Anti-Money Laundering Act.

Preecha indicated would add a rule requiring cryptocurrency exchange platforms to report activities to the Amlo, adding that such information is crucial to track laundered money over the internet.

The legal changes would corresponds with international standards on crypto exchange service providers, he said.

Thailand is a member nation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – an international money-laundering watchdog – which recently issued recommendations that cryptocurrency platforms monitor and report suspicious transactions.

It also included a controversial requirement that “virtual asset service providers” (VASPs), including crypto exchanges, pass information about their customers to one another when transferring funds between firms.

FATF further proposed that member countries should consider mandating that exchange providers to register with relevant authorities.

https://www.coindesk.com

08/14/2019

Move aimed at reducing money laundering

Japan Post Bank Co. and Japan Post Co. will limit the amount of funds that can be sent via their overseas bank transfer service to tackle money laundering.

Overseas remittances will be limited to ¥5 million per day. The move is aimed at preventing illegal transactions.

Currently, there is no ceiling on how much money customers can send through the service.

Moreover, the number of post offices offering the service will be reduced from the current 3,210 to 1,194, beginning in October, Japan Post Bank and Japan Post said Wednesday.

Another overseas remittance service, through which postal money orders can be sent abroad, will be continued only for the United States. Here, too, the cap will be lowered, from the current 7,000 dollars to 2,800 dollars.

Japan Post Bank will also end its foreign currency home delivery service at the end of September.

And it will place a cap of about ¥100,000 on the amount of foreign currency a customer can buy or sell at a time at Japan Post Bank outlets and some post offices.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp

08/10/2019

On August 6, 2019, the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Financial Services Commission in South Korea revealed plans to institute direct regulations on cryptocurrency exchanges, local news source Business Korea reports. Up until now, FIU has often regulated exchanges indirectly through their banks.

Quoting an official with the FIU, Business Korea reported that the South Korean government will begin to issue licenses to cryptocurrency exchanges, in line with recommendations from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international anti-money laundering watchdog.  

“If an amendment to the Act on Reporting and Use of Certain Financial Transaction Information, which reflects the FATF’s international standards for cryptocurrencies, passes the National Assembly, it will be possible to prevent money laundering through cryptocurrencies,” Lee Tae-hoon, the head of administration and planning at the FIU, said.

He added that this approach could lead to effective crypto oversight, although it would need the buy-in of lawmakers.

Crypto compliance solutions provider Argos commented in a blog post that this regulation could involve the enforcement of the “travel rule,” a rule which would obligate cryptocurrency exchanges to share information regarding the parties in a transaction. Given that exchanges don’t always collect such information, Argos noted that it could become problematic. 

A GROWING REGULATORY TREND

South Korea is not the only Asian country determined to hold its crypto sector on a tight leash. Japan could be changing its laws soon due to the incessant security breaches on its exchanges.

In July 2019, popular Japanese exchange Bitpoint lost around $32 million (3.5 billion yen) to hackers. The exchange noticed unauthorized access in its hot wallets, which led to the theft of a wide range of digital assets, including bitcoin and XRP.

Bitpoint eventually rallied from the hack and published its timetable for resuming services for users shortly afterward.

Regulators in Japan have been both passive and active when it comes to the crypto sector.

Japanese exchanges have been allowed to self regulate in the past, thanks to the activities of the Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA), a body made up of exchanges that ensures the institution of industry-wide anti-money laundering and security standards. The government has taken a more active regulatory role in recent times. 

In April 2019, Nikkei Asia Review reported that Japan’s Financial Services Authority (FSA) was cracking down on exchanges that offered anonymous transactions and had subpar identity verification infrastructure.

Still, the country hasn’t been able to stem the flow of hacks. South Korea simply doesn’t want to take the same chance with exchanges.

https://bitcoinmagazine.com

08/09/2019

Australia’s government has delivered supportive statements on cryptocurrency as it looks to exclude the sector from new restrictions on cash payments. 

In an explanatory memorandum issued late last week, the country’s treasury said it wished to ban cash payments for goods and services which exceeded 10,000 AUD ($6,900).

However, a number of exclusions would apply, including transactions involving what it describes as digital currencies.

The reason, lawmakers state, is in order to prevent the disappearance of such currencies from the local economy, which in turn would lead to a block on freedom to innovate. The memorandum reads:

"Digital currency is a new and developing area in the Australian economy. Unlike physical currency, it does not have a firmly established regulatory framework or industry structure. This makes it difficult to apply the cash payment limit in a way that would not largely prevent the use of digital currency in Australia or significantly stifle innovation in the sector."

As Cointelegraph reported, Australia holds a mixed track record on cryptocurrency. This year, it emerged authorities would go after individual traders for tax purposes, demanding access to user data from exchanges.

Continuing, the treasury suggested that cryptocurrency remains a marginal contributor to the economy, and struck out in comparison to recent comments from other governments by saying its role in crime is also negligible.

The memorandum confirms: "At the same time, there is little current evidence that digital currency is presently being used in Australia to facilitate black economy activities. Given this, the Government has decided at the present time to effectively carve digital currency out from the cash payment limit.”

If approved, Australia would implement the $10,000 limit starting January 1, 2020. Earlier this month, it emerged that Germany was also seeking to lower the maximum sum legal to accept in cash from €10,000 ($11,120) to €2,000 ($2,220) from January 10 next year. 

https://cointelegraph.com

08/08/2019

BANGKOK, 20th July 2019 (NNT) Thailand and Australia have set up an ad hoc team to join the drug and transnational crime suppression operation. Australia will provide support for personnel development to enhance the effectiveness of the suppression initiative.

Mr. Weerawat Tengamnuay, Deputy Secretary-General of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB); Police Major General Chatree Phaisarnsilp, Deputy Commissioner of the Narcotics Suppression Police; Police Colonel Phaisit Wongmuang, Director-General of the Department of Special Investigation (DSI), the representative of the Anti-Money Laundering Office or AMLO, and Mr. Neil Gaughan, Deputy Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Thai-Australian Joint Ad Hoc Operation Project to suppress transnational crimes, drug trafficking, money laundering and a timely exchange of information.

Australia will support the development of personnel and preparation of intelligence information on transnational crime networks especially those in Asia, and provide equipment for operations to ensure effective law enforcement and suppression. 

The international cooperation has led to the arrests of nine suspects in six major cases and the seizure of 1.9 tons of ice, 3.9 tons of ephedrine, 41.7 kilograms of heroin, 3 tons of marijuana and assets valued at more than 7.5 million baht.

https://news.thaivisa.com

08/07/2019

UAE FIU signs MoU with the Saudi Arabia Financial Intelligence Unit to reinforce the anti-money laundry policies and the combat of financial terrorism

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Arabia Financial Intelligence Unit. 

Abu Dhabi: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has announced today the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Saudi Arabia Financial Intelligence Unit.

Upon their arrival, Brigadier General Otaibi Bin Khader Al Malki, Director of the FIU of KSA, and his delegation were welcomed by H.E. Mubarak Rashed Al Mansoori, Governor of Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and Chairperson of the National Committee for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organizations. He was also accompanied by H. E. Saif Hadef Al Shamsi, the Deputy Governor of CBUAE and Mr. Ali Faisal Ba'Alawi, Acting Head of FIU.

A meeting was held prior to the signing to discuss the strong relationship between the UAE and KSA. The joint efforts between both countries reflects the strong ties, having undertaken a series of initiatives to combat money laundry and financial terrorism alongside the international community.

The MoU was signed by Mr. Ali Faisal  Ba'Alawi, Acting Head of FIU, and Brigadier General Otaibi Bin Khader Al Malki, Director of Financial Intelligence Unit of KSA. The strategic partnership will further strengthen the cooperation between the two financial intelligence agencies. This will include the development of shared network platforms which will allow for enhanced knowledge sharing between the two agencies. The data shared will support both entities in the ongoing battle against money laundering, financial terrorism.

https://www.zawya.com

08/06/2019

Germany's government is unveiling a new law aimed at combating money laundering in the real estate sector. It's estimated that billions in illegal earnings are funneled into the German property market each year. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the draft bill will bring Germany in line with "the highest international standards in the fight against money laundering."

The law was approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet on Wednesday. Among other changes, it will give the government's Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) greater powers and access to the data of other investigative authorities. "Money laundering is a serious problem in our country. We have to eliminate it," Scholz told the Funke Media Group in an interview. "In particular, we have to take a closer look at the real estate market." The legislation will expand the number of professional groups required to report suspicious deals and take precautions to prevent laundering. Staff at auction houses, precious metals dealers, and real estate agents will now be covered by the law.

Germany a 'gangster's paradise'

Scholz acknowledged that Germany had "some catching up to do" to tackle money laundering but said the FIU was becoming "more powerful."

The opposition Green Party's Lisa Paus accused the government of being too slow to act: "The minister of finance has finally admitted errors in the fight against money laundering," she said, adding, however, that "a functioning money laundering defense is still a long way off."

She said tenants were ultimately losing out because dirty money was making prices in the property market rise.

Fabio De Masi of the Left Party called for a comprehensive real estate register to improve transparency. He said the government's plan was a start but didn't go nearly far enough. "Germany is a gangster's paradise and needs a real money laundering master plan," he said. 

In its 2018 annual report, the FIU noted an "extreme vulnerability" in Germany's real estate market when it came to dubious business deals and the investigation of criminal activities.

The FIU found that of the 77,252 cases of money laundering in Germany last year, about 3,800 involved the real estate sector.

According to anti-corruption group Transparency International, 15-30% of all proceeds from criminal activities are invested in real estate, either through building and renovating, or buying, selling and renting. 

In a report last year, the organization called on Germany to implement reforms after finding that about €30 billion ($34 billion) of illicit funds were funneled into German real estate in 2017. It said criminal networks, particularly the Italian Mafia, had managed to exploit legal loopholes to launder money through properties in Germany.

 

https://www.dw.com

08/05/2019

Nearly €1 billion worth of cocaine has been seized in the German port city of Hamburg. More than 4,200 packages in 211 sports bags were discovered in a freight container which shippers claimed were full of soybeans.

German customs has confiscated a record 4.5 metric tons (5 short tons) of cocaine in a shipping container in Hamburg, northern Germany, with a street value of nearly €1 billion ($1.1 billion).

The drugs were discovered two weeks ago during a routine check, resulting in the largest cocaine shipment ever seized in Germany.

More than 4,200 packages in 211 sports bags were discovered in a freight container which shippers claimed were full of soybeans. The shipment was being transported from Montevideo in Uruguay, via Hamburg, to Antwerp, Belgium.

"This enormous amount represents the largest individual seizure of cocaine in Germany," the Hamburg Customs agency said in a statement on Friday.

"Assuming that this likely high-purity cocaine can be cut to triple the amount for street sale, the 4.5 tons has a street value of approximately €1 billion."

The cocaine has already been destroyed, under strict extensive security measures.

Gateway to the world

Hamburg's port, Germany's largest and Europe's third busiest, is often referred to as the "gateway to the world" as the country's trade and travel has relied heavily on it throughout its history.

The EU Drug Markets Report found that Rotterdam was the main point of entry for drug smugglers, but that Hamburg was handling increasing traffic.

In recent years cocaine shipments of up to one ton have been detected on numerous occasions but Friday's announcement was an unprecedented amount.

In 2018, German authorities destroyed drugs with a combined street value of €520 million ($592 million).

Germany has become notorious for drug usage. In March this year it topped a Europewide study for crystal meth and amphetamine use following close examination of the country's wastewater.

https://www.dw.com

08/03/2019

After issuing comments and reports heavily critical of cryptocurrencies over the last few years, Agustin Carstens, chief of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), has acknowledged that central banks will likely soon need to issue their own digital currencies.

Speaking to the Financial Times on Sunday, Carstens said that BIS – which acts like a central bank for central banks – is supporting global central banks’ efforts to research and develop digital currencies based on national fiat currencies.

A number of central banks are engaged in such work and “we are working on it, supporting them,” Carstens said. Further, the arrival of such products might just around the corner if there is clear evidence of demand from the public.

According to Carstens: “[I]t might be that it is sooner than we think that there is a market and we need to be able to provide central bank digital currencies.”

The comments come soon after Facebook’s unveiling of its planned Libra cryptocurrency made headlines and shook regulators worldwide, as the prospect of a tech firm with users in the billions launching is own money potentially poses a threat to state currencies.

France’s finance minister has said that Libra must not be allowed to become a sovereign currency.

Over in the U.S., Congresswoman Maxine Waters has asked Facebook to halt development of the Libra Network until hearings can be held.

BIS itself name-checked Facebook in its latest annual report, expressing fears that initiatives like Libra pose a long-term threat to central banks control of money: “Regulators need to ensure a level playing field between big techs and banks, taking into account big techs’ wide customer base, access to information and broad-ranging business models.”

Talking to the FT, Carstens again addressed the Facebook issue.

“The issue is how will the currency be used? Will there be discovery of information, or data that can be used in credit provision and how will data privacy be protected?” he said, adding that a “simple way” to regulate such cryptocurrency networks is to start addressing “immediate and very obvious” money laundering concerns.

https://www.coindesk.com

08/02/2019

-In a press conference Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Facebook’s proposed digital currency, Libra, “could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers” and that it was a “national security issue.” 

-“Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs and human trafficking,” Mnuchin says, adding that he is “not comfortable today” with Facebook’s launch.

-The press conference comes days after President Donald Trump said he was “not a fan” of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and suggested Facebook would need a bank charter to go through with current plans. 

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has concerns about Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency and its potential illicit use. In a press conference Monday, Mnuchin said Facebook’s planned digital currency “could be misused by money launderers and terrorist financiers” and that it was a “national security issue.” “Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin have been exploited to support billions of dollars of illicit activity like cybercrime, tax evasion, extortion, ransomware, illicit drugs and human trafficking,” Mnuchin said, adding that he is “not comfortable today” with Facebook’s launch. “They have a lot of work to do,” he said.

The press conference comes days after President Donald Trump said in a tweet that he was “not a fan” of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. He also suggested Facebook, which plans on launching the global cryptocurrency next year, would need a bank charter to do so. Bitcoin dropped sharply on Monday following the president’s criticism on Twitter. The world’s first and most valuable digital currency fell roughly 10% to a low of $9,872 to start the week. “The president does have concerns as it relates to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies — those are legitimate concerns that we have been working on for a long period of time,” Mnuchin said.

In response to the Treasury secretary’s comments, Facebook told CNBC that “they anticipated critical feedback from regulators, central banks, lawmakers around the world.” The tech giant also said they announced Libra a year before its anticipated launch date, “so that we could have those conversations.”

Facebook’s David Marcus, head of Facebook’s Calibra digital wallet that will be used to store Libra, is scheduled to testify before the committee on Tuesday. The House Financial Services Committee will hold its own hearing focused on Libra on Wednesday. Marcus responded to questions from the U.S. Senate Banking Committee in a letter last week, saying the company needs governments, central banks and regulators involved to properly launch the digital asset and Facebook “can’t do this alone.”

Mnuchin said Treasury had been clear with Facebook — as well as bitcoin users — that they need to implement the same anti-money-laundering and counter-terrorism safeguards as other financial institutions. “With respect to Facebook’s Libra and other developments in cryptocurrencies, our overriding goal is to maintain the integrity of our financial system and protect it from abuse,” he said. “We will not allow digital asset service providers to operate in the shadows.”

In June, Facebook announced that it would launch a cryptocurrency run by the nonprofit Switzerland-based Libra Association in 2020. The digital asset will not be controlled or fully run by Facebook, according to its white paper. Instead, it’s being run by a number other stakeholders that include Uber, Mastercard, Stripe, Visa, PayPal and Spotify. Still, Facebook has plans to profit from it through a new subsidiary, Calibra that is building a digital wallet to store and exchange the cryptocurrency.

Others in Washington have also called for more clarity surrounding Facebook’s project. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said last week that he had “serious concerns” including money laundering and consumer protection, and set up a working group within the central bank to examine it. Congress members from both political parties have also questioned Facebook’s motives. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee, asked the tech giant to delay the project, which she said was a continuation of its “unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users.”

https://www.cnbc.com

08/01/2019

The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is looking to forge a blockchain cybersecurity shield.

In a report published on July 12 titled Digital Modernization Strategy, the DoD outlined several ways to advance the nation’s digital defenses. This includes the integration of cloud and quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and improved communications through distributed ledgers.

In fact, DARPA, the research wing of the Department is already experimenting with the technology “to create a more efficient, robust, and secure platform,” to secure messaging and process transactions, reports Decrypt.

Specifically, blockchain may be deployed between units and headquarters as well as intelligence officers and the Pentagon. As part of the Digital Identity Management program, the agency may also issue a digital token that authenticates an agent’s identity.

The DoD is also experimenting with the technology to facilitate the creation of an unhackable code to secure its databases.

As part of the second Cryptographic Modernization program, in effect since 2000, the Department is replacing old hardware and cryptographic systems to meet the challenges of the improved computing power of the nation’s adversaries.

Citing the trustless, transparent, and immutable attributes of blockchain the Department writes:

“Blockchain networks not only reduce the probability of compromise, but also impose significantly greater costs on an adversary to achieve it.”

The shift from “low value to high-value work” is also part of the DoDs’ Big Data Platform (BDP), which will handle petabytes of data involved in a number of cross-agency projects. The platform “provides the ability to perform aggregation, correlation, historical trending,” and may perform pattern recognition to “predict attacks.”

 

https://www.coindesk.com

07/31/2019

(USA) - Yesterday, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a Regulatory Notice 19-24 to its member firms. The objective of this notice is to encourage the member firms to inform the Regulatory Authority about any engagement or intention of engagement with the activities related to the digital asset.

It is not the first time that the Regulatory Authority took the initiative to engage with its member firms. For instance, last year too, the FINRA issued a Regulatory Notice 18-20.

Through this notice, the Regulatory Authority encouraged its member firms to keep the respective Regulatory Coordinators updated about any engagement or intention of engagement with the activities related to the digital asset. As per this notice, clarity was requested based on the member firm level, affiliates, or any other associated people. The concerned firms or people were to inform about the digital assets that are non-securities as well. The deadline to submit the relevant information is until July 31st, 2019.

The Regulatory Authority is grateful for the cooperation it has got since the past year and is expecting the same to be continued. The deadline for the current Regulatory Notice is July 31, 2020. Moreover, if any of the member firms or the affiliates or any other associated people have any queries, the Regulatory Authority has provided contact details of the Vice President & Associate General Counsel, the Associate General Counsel, and the Assistant General Counsel of the FINRA to get support from.

FINRA is expecting its member firms to update the Regulatory Authority about any activity related to the digital asset and about the digital assets that are non-securities as well. Some examples of such activities include:

  • Any buying or selling or executions activities that are related to digital assets.
  • Any buying or selling or executions activities that are related to digital assets, which are made based on pooled funds.
  • Any advisory services that come under the category of ‘creation,’ ‘management’ or ‘provision,’ which are related to the digital assets, are also to be informed to the Regulatory Authority.
  • Any buying or selling or executions activities related to futures, options, and other derivatives that are related to digital assets.
  • If any member firm, affiliates or any other associated people have participated in an initial or secondary offering of crypto tokens, or security tokens, or any other digital assets.
  • FINRA should be updated about any generating or managing of a platform which relates to the secondary trading of digital assets.
  • Any custody or any parallel set-up that relates to digital assets.
  • If any cryptocurrency has been accepted from the users.
  • If there has been any direct or indirect participation in mining.
  • Any activities related to ‘recommendation, solicitation or acceptance’ of any crypto or other virtual coins or tokens related activities.
  • Any kind of interest or quotations in virtual coins, tokens, or other cryptocurrencies.
  • Any support offered for ‘clearance or any settlement services’ that are related to virtual coins, tokens, or other cryptocurrencies.
  • If there is any record-keeping of virtual coins, tokens, or other cryptocurrencies with the help of DLT or any other technology including blockchain technology.

The Regulatory Authority has requested the associated member firms, associates and other related people to cooperate with FINRA. On the other hand, FINRA and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a joint statement recently. This statement was about “broker-dealer custody of digital assets and Notice 19-24 underscores regulators.”

https://www.cryptonewsz.com

07/30/2019

The Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC) have signed a strategic partnership to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing.

"On the basis of this Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the organisations will cooperate with each other to prevent of the financial system being used for the purposes of money laundering or terrorist financing in the administrative services sector," said a joint statement.

Under the agreement, CySEC and ICPAC will also address issues and violations of legislation with a common objective to ensure compliance of the supervised entities

The MoU was signed by CySEC chairwoman Demetra Kalogerou and ICPAC chairman Demetris Vakis.

Earlier in May, CySEC sent out a directive requiring additional targeted training be provided by regulated entities to their staff especially in the area of suspicious activity monitoring.

The aim of the directive is to mitigate and manage the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing effectively in relation to internal reporting and reporting to MOKAS (the Legal Service's Unit for Combating Money Laundering).

In the past six years, CySEC has imposed a total of €25.5m in fines on regulated entities. Specifically, the Commission carried out 16 separate investigations, which resulted in the imposition of a total of €18.5m in administrative fines, not only on listed companies but also on executive and non-executive members of BoDs.

https://www.internationalinvestment.net

07/29/2019

The European Commission has declared its intention to strengthen EU measures combating money laundering and terrorism financing.

The Commission has adopted a formal communication, Towards a better implementation of the EU’s anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism framework, which aims to support legislative authorities in Member States in implementing and enforcing EU regulation covering the prevention and penalisation of money laundering and terrorism financing. First Vice President Frans Timmermans said:

“We must close off all opportunities for criminals and terrorists to abuse our financial system and threaten the security of Europeans. There are some very concrete improvements which can be made quickly at operational level. The Commission will continue to support Member States in this, whilst also reflecting on how to address the remaining structural challenges.”

The communication comprises an overview of four reports on the structural frameworks of Member States with regard to addressing money laundering and terrorism financing, as follows: 

-A biannual supranational risk assessment report on internal money laundering, highlighting ongoing structural vulnerabilities;

-A report assessing recent high profile cases of money laundering in the finance sector and lessons learned from those cases;

-A report detailing recommended changes and proposed support mechanisms for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), which identify money laundering risks in Member States;

-A report analysing levels of interconnection of central bank account registries, recommending possible decentralisation of registries to shore up security.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice President for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union, said:

“A credible framework for preventing and fighting money laundering and terrorism financing is essential to maintain the integrity of the European financial system and reduce risks to financial stability. Yet today’s analysis gives more proof that our strong AML [anti-money laundering] rules have not been equally applied in all banks and all EU countries; so we have a structural problem in the Union’s capacity to prevent that the financial system is used for illegitimate purposes. This problem has to be addressed and solved sooner rather than later.”

Věra Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality said: “We have stringent anti-money laundering rules at EU level, but we need all Member States to implement these rules on the ground. We don’t want to see any weak link point in the EU that criminals could exploit. The recent scandals have shown that Member States should treat this as a matter of urgency.”

 

https://www.governmenteuropa.eu

07/27/2019

Freeports among concerns as Brussels admits weaknesses in fight against illegal flows 

Professional football has been added to the EU’s watchlist of money-laundering risks, as the bloc admitted it faced a “structural problem” in its fight against illegal financial flows. Brussels identified football as one of 47 products and sectors vulnerable to being exploited by criminals. The decision follows a scandal in Belgium last year when federal prosecutors started an investigation into allegations of illicit fees paid to players and referees. “Professional football’s complex organisation and lack of transparency have created fertile ground for the use of illegal resources,” the European Commission said on Wednesday. “Questionable sums of money with no apparent or explicable financial return or gain are being invested in the sport.” Other new additions to the list include freeports — zones where goods can be imported and re-exported without having to pay tax or customs duty— golden visa schemes and non-bank ATM machines. The list was updated on the same day that the EU acknowledged more general failings in its fight against money laundering, saying a series of scandals at lenders such as Deutsche Bank and ING had revealed weaknesses in enforcement.

Valdis Dombrovskis, the EU commission vice-president for the euro, and Vera Jourova, the bloc’s justice commissioner, said EU rules were undermined by slow-footed regulators, poor co-operation between countries and a lack of basic due diligence on the part of some banks. “What emerges is a picture of ineffective compliance or even lack of compliance,” Mr. Dombrovskis said, slamming the failure of individual banks to meet basic requirements for properly assessing risk and reporting suspicious transactions. Brussels on Wednesday published detailed reports on the EU’s money-laundering challenge. Ms. Jourova said the documents showed that “enforcement is not proactive and dissuasive enough”, adding that “the price of failure is high”.  The conclusions follow a series of cases that began with the collapse last year of Latvian lender ABLV. Others included the discovery of €200bn of suspicious transactions at Danske Bank’s Estonian branch, ING’s €775m regulatory fine for compliance failings, and revelations that Deutsche Bank was caught up in a vast Russian programme to illicitly shift criminal funds to the west.

The reports published on Wednesday underline that, while Europe has some of the strongest rules against money laundering in the world, they suffer from weak implementation. The studies warn of “a degree of regulatory and supervisory fragmentation . . . that appears ill-adapted in light of ever increasing cross-border activity in the union”.

Mr. Dombrovskis and Ms Jourova said it would be for the next commission, which takes office on November 1, to decide how to proceed. But they said options could include overhauling the European Banking Authority’s (EBA) decision-making structure to make it more independent of national influence, or handing more powers to the newly created European Public Prosecutor’s Office.  Other steps could include revising EU rules to reduce the scope for national discretion, as well as building data systems to streamline information-sharing between public authorities.

https://www.ft.com/content

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