E.g., 08/17/2022
E.g., 08/17/2022
07/05/2022

Paris, 30 June 2022  FATF has produced a targeted update on implementation of its Standards on virtual assets (VAs) and virtual asset service providers (VASPs), with a focus on FATF’s Travel Rule. This report comes three years after FATF extended its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) measures to VAs and VASPs to prevent criminal and terrorist misuse of the sector.

The report builds on the FATF’s previous two reviews on implementation by providing a short update on the latest country compliance with FATF’s Recommendation 15 and its Interpretative Note (R.15/INR.15). The report places a specific focus on FATF’s Travel Rule to respond to FATF’s June 2021 findings that countries and private sector face particular challenges in this area. Further, the report includes relevant emerging risks and market developments, including on Decentralized Finance (DeFi), Non Fungible Tokens (NFTs) and unhosted wallets.

The report finds a continued need for many countries to strengthen understanding of ML/TF risks of the VA and VASP sector, and to rapidly implement FATF’s R.15/INR.15 to mitigate such risks. In particular, FATF’s Travel Rule requires VASPs and other financial institutions to share relevant originator and beneficiary information alongside virtual asset transactions, therefore helping to prevent criminal and terrorist misuse. The report finds that jurisdictions have made only limited progress over the last year in implementing this requirement. Of the 98 jurisdictions that responded to FATF’s March 2022 survey, only 29 jurisdictions have passed relevant Travel Rule laws, and a small subset of these jurisdictions have started enforcement. This demonstrates an urgent need for jurisdictions to accelerate implementation and enforcement to mitigate criminal and terrorist misuse of virtual assets. 

FATF’s report highlights that there are now technological solutions available to facilitate Travel Rule compliance in practice, but private sector need to continue to increase interoperability between solutions and across jurisdictions, and to work towards full compliance.

On market developments and emerging ML/TF threats, the report highlights the continued need for the FATF to monitor the growth of, and illicit financing risks associated with, DeFi and NFTs markets and unhosted wallets.

To address the findings of the report, the FATF calls on all countries to rapidly implement the FATF’s Standards on VAs and VASPs, including the FATF’s Travel Rule. To assist, the FATF will:

-Continue to promote implementation of FATF’s R.15/INR.15, including the Travel Rule, by facilitating discussions with member countries on common implementation issues and challenges, and by raising awareness through G7/G20 and other high-level policy bodies

-Continue to monitor market trends for material changes or developments that necessitate further work, including how the Standards apply to DeFi and NFTs, and to engage with member countries and the private sector on country approaches

-Conduct a further review on progress and remaining challenges for implementation by June 2023.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org

07/04/2022

Published: June 24, 2022, 16:00

The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government on Friday gazetted the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Amendment) Bill 2022, which seeks to impose statutory obligations by introducing a licensing regime for virtual asset service providers and a registration regime for dealers in precious metals and stones.  

The bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council for first reading on July 6. 

The legislative proposal is pertinent to the fulfilment of the government’s FATF (Financial Action Task Force) obligations, a government spokesperson said, adding that it will mitigate the risk of money laundering and terrorist financing in the city. 

“This will safeguard the integrity of Hong Kong as an international financial center, protect investors and add to our credibility as a trusted and competitive place to do business,” said the spokesperson. 

The FATF is an inter-governmental body entitled with setting international standards on combating money laundering and terrorist financing. Hong Kong has been a member of the FATF since 1991. 

Any person who seeks to carry on a business of operating a virtual asset exchange is required to apply for a license from the Securities and Futures Commission, according to a government press release. 

The relevant person is subject to the meeting of a fit and proper test as well as the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing and other regulatory requirements, it added. 

Under the proposed registration regime for the dealers in precious metals and stones, any person who is seeking to carry on a business of dealing in precious metals and precious stones in the city will be required to register with the Commissioner of Customs and Excise.  

There will be two categories of registrants, classified on the basis of whether such dealers are seeking to engage in cash transactions at or above HK$120,000 in the course of their business.  

“Dealers who engage in such cash transactions will be subject to anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing supervision under the regime,” reads the release. 

The amendment is also aimed at addressing a number of miscellaneous and technical issues under chapter 615 of the ordinance, which have been identified in the Mutual Evaluation and other Financial Action Task Force contexts, according to the government. 

To gauge public views on legislative proposals to enhance anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regulation, the SAR government launched a three-month consultation exercise on Nov 3, 2020. 

The government and financial regulators recently rolled out a host of measures to ensure the orderly development and operation of the virtual asset sector and respond to challenges arising from investor protection or money laundering risks.  

In an article on March 17, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury Christopher Hui wrote that the measures cover three areas – establishing a licensing regime for the virtual asset service providers, contemplating the regulation of payment-related stablecoins; and providing traditional financial institutions with guidelines on offering virtual asset-related services to clients.

https://www.chinadailyhk.com

07/01/2022

Inaugural ministerial meeting sets course for enhanced cooperation

BRASILIA, Brazil – Ministers from South American countries have stressed their commitment to improving coordinated action against transnational organized crime, recognizing INTERPOL’s role in regional security.

  Under an initiative endorsed at the First Ministerial Meeting against Transnational Organized Crime in South America (23 – 24 June), participating countries will work together with INTERPOL to enhance their regional security collaboration via the Brazilian International Police Cooperation Centre (IPCC) in Rio de Janeiro.

The declaration at the Brasilia summit was agreed by Ministers from Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam and Uruguay.

The aim is to allow for enhanced exchange of crime intelligence data, integrated actions, joint capacity building and planning of criminal investigations to help close security gaps against transnational organized crime in the region.

“Today, for the first time, we met as South Americans, alongside our guests from INTERPOL and Ameripol, to discuss the fight against transnational organized crime. Our proposal is simple: an alliance against crime, of a strategic and sovereign nature between our ministries.” Anderson Torres, Minister of Justice and Public Security, Brazil.

In this respect, participating Home Affairs, Justice, Police and Public Security ministers recognized INTERPOL as the primary inter-regional communication network for law enforcement agencies to exchange actionable intelligence and enhance frontline policing.

INTERPOL as a frontline solution

With the total number of records shared through INTERPOL’s global databases increasing by more than 50 per cent in the last four years, addressing the ministers, Secretary General Jürgen Stock underlined ‘the role of INTERPOL as a frontline solution, enabling the rapid consultation of international alerts on fugitives wanted worldwide’.

The effectiveness of such inter-regional law enforcement cooperation via INTERPOL was underscored this week alone with the arrest in Hungary of Sergio Roberto De Carvalho, wanted internationally by Brazil under an INTERPOL Red Notice for alleged links to transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking.

“Today more than ever we need to be able to collaborate and coordinate with partner agencies to combat transnational organized crime and protect our borders and populations,” said Secretary General Stock.

“To be even more effective, international police cooperation needs to be firmly integrated in the regions.  That is why INTERPOL is mobilizing its global capacities to respond to problems at the regional level, including in South America,” added Mr Stock.

Over the past four years INTERPOL has partnered with the European Union’s El PAcCTO programme to establish a permanent mechanism for tracking the most wanted fugitives across South America. To date, more than 100 of those fugitives have been arrested.

https://www.interpol.int

06/30/2022

Global action: key to fighting illegal logging

LYON, France - Illegal logging and illicit timber trafficking pose a global environmental threat. Not only do such crimes destroy biodiversity, they are also responsible for deforestation and habitat loss.

Moreover, many organized crimes are interconnected. For instance, criminals can use illicit proceeds from forestry crime to fund conflicts. Criminals can also finance drug operations via the selling and trading of illegal timber or vice versa.

In this context, INTERPOL collaborated with the Royal Thai Police, raising awareness of environmental damage and challenges associated with illegal logging. During the operation, experts underscored the need for intelligence-led policing and effective information sharing as key to combating organized criminal activity.

“As INTERPOL, we support our member countries with the sharing of information and intelligence and we’re able to be deployed to a certain country to support operations.” Jamie Tarawa Bailey, Criminal Intelligence Officer, INTERPOL.

Likewise, Lieutenant Colonel Parinya Iamkamol, Royal Thai Police underlined the importance of forest conservation. He further highlighted that every unit should take serious action and measures against illegal deforestation.

Kittichai Runglaiboonwong, Thai National Park Department explained that timber smugglers sometimes use networks to transport the wood to both neighboring countries and abroad.  He added that 7 suspects recently arrested for cutting wood in Khao Yai National Park had smuggled consistently for more than 20 days.

Rosewood is a high value timber and a very profitable business for transnational organized crime, Nicole Quijano-Evans, Crime Prevention Expert at the UN Office on Drugs and Crime explained.

However, targeted law enforcement efforts can help stop illegal deforestation. For instance, INTERPOL and UNODC collaborate under Programme LEAP, funded by Norway’s Ministry for Climate and the Environment as part of their International Climate and Forest Initiative.

With its emphasis on intelligence-led operations, multi-agency cooperation and technical support for law enforcement, this joint INTERPOL-UNODC programme offers a unique portfolio of support that helps member countries better address forestry crime and illegal deforestation by identifying trafficking routes and facilitating transnational investigations.

https://www.interpol.int

06/29/2022

June 6, 2022

Ottawa, Ont. – In April 2022, the World Customs Organization (WCO), INTERPOL, and the Egmont Group (EG) of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) successfully concluded their anti-money laundering and counterterrorist financing (AML-CTF) joint Operation named “TENTACLE-Latin America,” with combined seizures totalling nearly 3 million US dollars (USD).

“The success of Operation TENTACLE-Latin America clearly shows the need for Customs, Police, and FIUs to continually work together in the fight against money laundering,” said Dr. Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General of the WCO. “The illicit movement of currency, gold, silver, diamonds, and gemstones across borders is still being widely used by organized crime groups to launder the proceeds of their illicit activities.”

Operation TENTACLE-Latin America provided important intelligence to participating law enforcement agencies and regulatory agencies. The seizure data revealed that criminal networks routinely utilize postal and express services to smuggle diamonds and gems. The Operation uncovered multiple suspected ‘carousel fraud’ schemes involving the movement of gold and silver across two or three countries to launder illicit proceeds held by organized crime groups, including cocaine cartels.

This pan-Latin American Operation involved participation by Customs services, FIUs, and police services in nine different Latin American countries, including the Customs services of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Panama, as well as the United States’ Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Italy’s Customs Service and Guardia di Finanza, and Spain’s Guardia Civil.

“Understanding crime and its patterns is a universal need among all international AML/CTF stakeholders, so collaborating, developing synergies and leveraging limited resources with partners across the globe is crucial for mitigating evolving financial crime risks and suppressing terrorist financing,” affirmed Hennie Verbeek-Kusters, Chair of the EG. “Operation TENTACLE-Latin America is another considerable example of how successful close collaboration among multiple organizations can be.”

The Operation, which began on March 1, 2022, led to the detection or seizure of over 1.3 million USD  in smuggled currency and more than 700,000 USD worth of smuggled gold, diamonds, and other gemstones.

Brazil Customs registered seizures of diamonds and semi-precious stones, including emeralds, with an estimated value of over 70,000 USD, while Costa Rica Customs carried out currency seizures of over 115,000 USD.

Chile Customs made 16 seizures during the Operation, including the discovery of 278,000 USD in currency, 528 kilograms of silver, more than 100 pieces of platinum and gold jewellery and 15 diamonds with an estimated 940,000 USD. Subsequent efforts led directly to five multi-jurisdictional investigations. In addition, collaboration with the Operational Coordination Unit (OCU), based in the Dominican Republic, and liaison with participating Latin American and European agencies resulted in four international money laundering investigations.

The Dominican Customs Service’s diligence resulted in the Operation’s largest cash seizure of 482,300 USD from an individual trying to leave the country on a private aircraft. This seizure led to a joint money laundering investigation involving law enforcement agencies in three countries.

Italy’s Customs Service (Agenzia delle Dogane e dei Monopoli) intercepted over 180,000 USD in smuggled currency during the month-long enforcement operation.

Spain’s Guardia Civil also recorded six seizures during the Operation, totalling over 60,000 USD in smuggled currency.

This Operation was the first WCO-led AML-CTF operational initiative conducted in the Western Hemisphere since the launch of Project TENTACLE in 2019. It was the direct result of two online WCO AML-CTF Workshops conducted in January and February 2022.

Project TENTACLE, funded by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (DoS-INL), is the WCO’s flagship law enforcement initiative targeting money laundering and terrorist financing. This Project aims to build the capacities of frontline Customs and police officers and FIU analysts through workshops and operational training, covering five world regions: Asia/Pacific, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa.

Project TENTACLE has provided money laundering and terrorism financing training to over 400 frontline officers, investigators and analysts since its 2019 inception. Three regional TENTACLE Operations have also taken place, resulting in the seizure of more than 7.2 million USD in smuggled currency, gold and gemstones and the arrest of 20 currency smugglers and money launderers.

https://egmontgroup.org/news/4258/

06/28/2022

Oman is currently working on its first digital currency. This comes after stern warnings for its people to stay away from cryptocurrencies in general.

Oman Taher bin Salem al-Omari is the CEO of the Central Bank of Oman. He has announced that work on an Omani digital currency is continuing. The announcement came at the opening of the “New Age of Banking” conference in Muscat.

Al-Omari said the CBO is committed to providing innovative support and services that will modernize the financial sector, in parallel with ensuring financial stability.

In Oman, cryptocurrencies have been a cause for concern and suspicion. The reasons given include that they are surrounded by high risks of fluctuating value, as well as concerns about their use in piracy and cyber fraud. But this has changed recently as the world of digital technologies in the Gulf has moved forward.

Oman: Investing in innovative technologies

The CBO CEO noted the importance of investing in innovative technologies and human capital to meet cybersecurity challenges.

Al-Omari said technical developments have contributed to a dramatic change in financial services, both in terms of products and design, and services. This is especially as digital transformation accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically in payment and settlement systems.

Point-of-sale transactions in Oman are estimated to have increased from 24 million to 115 million in the past five years. This is while e-commerce transactions have increased from 0.3 percent in 2017 to about 32 million by the end of 2021.

Digital currency

A large number of central banks around the world are moving to issue their own digital currencies.

While authorities have been urged people to be careful of cryptocurrencies, the use of blockchain technology has been welcomed in the country.

Dhofar Bank, one of Oman’s largest banks, has already experimented with Blockchain technology using Ripple’s RippleNet technology to enable faster and cheaper cross-border payments to India.

For central banks in emerging markets, a key driver for developing CBDCs is that it provides opportunities to bring underbanked communities into the financial system. It can also improve the cost and speed of payments.

https://beincrypto.com

06/27/2022

LONDON, June 21 (Reuters) - Recent implosions in the cryptocurrency markets indicate that long-warned-about dangers of decentralised digital money are now materialising, the Bank for International Settlements has said.

The BIS, the global umbrella body for central banks, sounded the warning in an upcoming annual report, in which it also urged more effort in developing appealing central bank digital currencies.

BIS general manager Agustin Carstens pointed to recent collapses of the TerraUSD and luna 'stablecoins', and a 70% slump in bitcoin, the bellwether for the crypto market, as indicators that a structural problem exists.

Without a government-backed authority that can use reserves funded by taxes, any form of money ultimately lacks credibility."

"I think all these weaknesses that were pointed out before have pretty much materialised," Carstens told Reuters. "You just cannot defy gravity... At some point you really have to face the music".

Analysts estimate that the overall value of the crypto market has slumped more that $2 trillion since November as its troubles have snowballed.

Carstens said the meltdown was not expected to cause a systemic crisis in the way that bad loans triggered the global financial crash. But he stressed losses would be sizeable and that the opaque nature of the crypto universe fed uncertainty.

"Based on what we know, it should be quite manageable," Carstens said. "But, there are a lot of things that we don't know."

The BIS is a long-term sceptic of cryptocurrencies and its report laid its vision for the future monetary system - one where central banks utilise the tech benefits of bitcoin and its ilk to create digital versions of their own currencies.

Roughly 90% of monetary authorities are now exploring CBDCs as they are known. Many hope it will equip them for the online world and fend off cryptocurrencies. But the BIS wants to coordinate key issues such as making sure they work across borders.

The immediate challenges are mainly technological, similar to how the mobile phone world needed standardised coding in the 1990s. But there is also the geopolitical issue as relations between the West and countries such as China and Russia wane.

"This (interoperability) is a topic that has been on the G20 agenda for quite some time.. so I think there is a good chance for this to move forward," Carstens said, adding how there had been a number of "real-life" trials with different CBDCs over the last year.

Asked how long before international standards for CBDC interoperability might be agreed, he said: "I think in the next couple of years. Probably 12 months is too short."

https://www.reuters.com

06/24/2022

The bank is exploring technological solutions and platforms for its own digital currency

The 2.8-million nation of Qatar is going to join a growing range of countries experimenting with the central bank digital currency (CBDC) concept. The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) is currently “in the foundation stage” of issuing its digital currency. 

On Tuesday during the “Inflation Test” session at the Qatar Economic Forum, QCB Governor Sheikh Bandar bin Mohammed bin Saoud Al Thani revealed that the bank is working to find technological solutions for its CBDC. Right now the project is in its early stage, Al Thani specified:

“Many central banks are now considering to issue CBDC, and we are not an exception to that. But we are still in foundation stage. We are evaluating the pros and cons of issuing CBDC and to find the proper and the right technology and platform to issue our CBDC.”

“Currently, crypto are a technology innovation. It might take us to new era of fast, cheap, and more accessible financial services. However, those crypto assets which are not underlined by monetary authority might be less credible,” he added.

First reports about the QCB exploring the possibility of CBDCs surfaced in March 2022. Back then, the head of the fintech section at QCB, Alanood Abdullah Al Muftah, disclosed that the bank is researching the concept due to the global trend.

At the moment, more than 100 countries globally have expressed their interest and/or started to research and develop CBDCs. Qatar’s main competitor in the Gulf region, the United Arab Emirates, launched its CBDC track as a part of its 2023–2026 tech strategy back in 2021. 

In the same year, it announced a joint project of cross-border CBDC payments with the central banks of Thailand, Hong Kong and China, as well as the Bank of International Settlements.

https://cointelegraph.com

06/23/2022

A cross-border operation, supported by Europol and involving the Belgian Police (Police Fédérale/Federale Politie) and the Dutch Police (Politie), resulted in the dismantling of an organised crime group involved in phishing, fraud, scams and money laundering. 

The action day on 21 June 2022 led to:

-9 arrests in the Netherlands

-24 house searches in the Netherlands

-Seizures including firearms, ammunition, jewellery, electronic devices, cash and cryptocurrency

The criminal group contacted victims by email, text message and through mobile messaging applications. These messages were sent by the members of the gang and contained a phishing link leading to a bogus banking website. Thinking they were viewing their own bank accounts through this website, the victims were duped into providing their banking credentials to the suspects.

The investigative leads suggest that the criminal network managed to steal several million euros from their victims with this fraudulent activity. They used money mules to transfer these funds from the victim's accounts and to cash out the fraudulently obtained money. Members of the group have also been connected with cases of drugs trafficking and possible firearms trafficking.

Europol facilitated the information exchange, the operational coordination and provided analytical support for investigation. During the operation, Europol deployed three experts to the Netherlands to provide real-time analytical support to investigators on the ground, forensics and technical expertise. 

Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and other serious and organised crime forms. Europol also works with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.

https://www.europol.europa.eu

06/22/2022

International police cooperation targets telecommunication fraud, business mail compromise (BEC) and associated money laundering

LYON, France -- A worldwide crackdown on social engineering fraud has seen scammers identified globally, substantial criminal assets seized and new investigative leads triggered in every continent.

The two-month (8 March – 8 May 2022) Operation, codenamed First Light 2022, saw 76 countries take part in an international clampdown on the organized crime groups behind telecommunications and social engineering scams.

Police in participating countries raided national call centres suspected of telecommunications or scamming fraud, particularly telephone deception, romance scams, e-mail deception, and connected financial crime.

Although results are still coming in, preliminary figures reached so far include:

-1,770 locations raided worldwide

-Some 3,000 suspects identified

-Some 2,000 operators, fraudsters and money launderers arrested

-Some 4,000 bank accounts frozen

-Some USD 50 million worth of illicit funds intercepted

Tangible results

Based on intelligence exchanged in the framework of the operation, the Singapore Police Force rescued a teenage scam victim who had been tricked into pretending to be kidnapped, sending videos of himself with fake wounds to his parents and seeking a EUR 1.5 million ransom.

A Chinese national wanted in connection with a Ponzi scheme estimated to have defrauded nearly 24,000 victims out of EUR 34 million was arrested in Papua New Guinea and returned to China via Singapore.

Get-rich-quick schemes

With the Internet creating new online career prospects, companies and professionals who turn to e-commerce affiliate and EBShopp business opportunities are increasingly being scammed.

As part of Operation First Light 2022, the Singapore Police Force arrested eight suspects linked to Ponzi-like job scams.  Scammers would offer high-paying online marketing jobs via social media and messaging systems where victims would initially make small earnings, and subsequently be required to recruit more members to earn commissions.

Making the case: INTERPOL police capabilities

Emerging trends uncovered during operations were shared with member countries in the form of INTERPOL purple notices detailing:

-the way money mule herders are laundering money through the personal bank accounts of victims;

-how social media platforms are driving human trafficking, entrapping people into forced labour, sexual slavery, or captivity in casinos or on fishing vessels;

-an increase in vishing fraud with criminals pretending to be bank officials to trick victims into sharing online log-in details;

-a growth in cybercriminals posing as INTERPOL officials to obtain money from victims believing themselves to be under investigation.

“Telecom and BEC fraud are sources of serious concern for many countries and have a hugely damaging effect on economies, businesses and communities.” Rory Corcoran, Director of INTERPOL’s Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC).

“The international nature of these crimes can only be addressed successfully by law enforcement working together beyond borders, which is why INTERPOL is critical to providing police the world over with a coordinated tactical response,” added Mr Corcoran.

“The transnational and digital nature of different types of telecom and social engineering fraud continues to present grave challenges for local police authorities, because perpetrators operate from a different country or even continent than their victims and keep updating their fraud schemes,” said Duan Daqi, Head of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Beijing.

“INTERPOL provides a unique platform for police cooperation to address this challenge. Though Operation Firstlight 2022 is concluded, our collective law enforcement efforts will continue as the crimes persist,” added Mr Duan.

To identify the criminal assets that would require interception during tactical operations, countries shared intelligence via INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network I-24/7 ahead of time, feeding INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes Analysis File with data on suspects, suspicious bank accounts, unlawful transactions and communications means such as telephone numbers, email addresses, fraudulent websites and IP addresses.

An annual operation launched in 2014, First Light 2022 was carried out with the financial support of China’s Ministry of Public Security.

Whilst initial First Light operations took place across Southeast Asia, this 2022 edition marks the second time law enforcement has coordinated First Light on a global scale, with tactical operations taking place on every continent.

https://www.interpol.int

06/21/2022

Qatar - The Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) organised a workshop on combatting money laundering and terrorism financing, in the presence of H E Saleh bin Majed Al Khulaifi, Assistant Undersecretary for Commerce Affairs.

The workshop comes within the framework of the Ministry’s keenness to enhance public-private partnership in the field of combating money laundering, terrorism financing, and the proliferation of arms, thus consolidating the State of Qatar pioneering position in this field. 

Featuring the participation of a number of auditors, trust fund service providers, companies, and traders of precious metals and gemstones, the workshop seeks to shed light on the risks of money laundering and financing of terrorism, prevent the financing of arms proliferation, and limit its negative impact on the business environment in Qatar.

The workshop highlighted the Ministry’s efforts to enhance cooperation and coordination with the competent authorities, most prominently the National Anti-Money Laundering & Terrorism Financing Committee, to curb illegal financing crimes, and preview the State’s achievements in implementing initiatives aimed at increasing compliance within the framework of combating money laundering and terrorism financing in the financial sector and others.

https://thepeninsulaqatar.com

06/20/2022

Berlin, 17 June 2022 - The last Plenary of the FATF under the German Presidency of Dr. Marcus Pleyer concluded today, following four days of hybrid meetings in Berlin, Germany. Delegates from over 200 jurisdictions of the Global Network participated in these discussions, with a significant number of participants once again able to travel for on-site meetings.

The FATF expressed its deepest sympathies for the people of Ukraine and continues to deplore the huge loss of life caused by the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result of the invasion, FATF agreed to severely limit the Russian Federation’s role and influence within the FATF.

FATF members approved a report that will help the real estate sector to better detect and prevent money laundering, and finalised a targeted update on implementation of the FATF requirements on virtual assets and virtual asset service providers. FATF also approved releasing a white paper for public consultation on potential revisions to Recommendation 25 on transparency and beneficial ownership of legal arrangements.

Under the German Presidency, the FATF made it a priority to explore the opportunities and challenges of digitalisation in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. At this Plenary, the FATF finalised a report that shares good practices and recommendations for combating money laundering and terrorist financing by sharing information while adhering to data protection and privacy. This is the first report that provides tangible examples of information sharing initiatives with analysis of the data protection implications. It highlights the importance of collaboration and cooperation between anti-money laundering and data protection authorities.

Delegations heard an update on ongoing work, which includes efforts to help countries more effectively recover criminal assets. The Plenary agreed to start new work that includes a project on countering the laundering of proceeds from ransomware attacks and an update to the FATF best practices paper on combating the abuse of NPOs. Responding to the request from FATF ministers to advance the FATF’s efforts to combat the laundering of illicit proceeds of corruption, the Plenary also agreed to undertake new projects on the misuse of citizenship and residency by investment schemes, guidance for assessors on how to assess implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption, and a horizontal review on how the non-financial sector facilitates corruption.

Delegates welcomed a commitment by the incoming FATF Presidency of Singapore to push forward the strategic priorities identified by FATF Ministers in April this year.

The Plenary was preceded by the Working Group meetings from 6 to 13 June and the Digital Transformation Conference, also hosted by the German government in Berlin, on 11 June, which brought together private and public sector anti-money laundering (AML) / counter terrorist financing (CFT) leaders, experts in innovative technologies and data protection authorities to discuss the use of new technologies to mitigate money laundering and terrorist financing threats. 

https://www.fatf-gafi.org

06/17/2022

With the support of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre, the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and National Police (Policía Nacional) have dismantled a drugs trafficking network which allegedly relied on corrupt law enforcement and customs officers to ship hundreds of millions of euros’ worth of cocaine and hashish into Western Europe.

A total of 61 individuals were arrested for their involvement in this criminal operation, including five officers from the Civil Guard, one from the National Police and one from customs, who were identified thanks to the collaboration with Europol and Eurojust. 

These arrests follow an 18-month long investigation into two criminal gangs, known as ‘Clan de Tanger’ and ‘Clan del Sur’, who are believed to have smuggled over 16 tonnes of cocaine and 150 tonnes of hashish via the Strait of Gibraltar into Spain for further distribution across Europe.  The drugs were hidden among shipments of tomatoes, watermelons and melons. The criminal group dismantled is considered to be the most active network operating around the Port of Algeciras.  

The corrupt law enforcement and customs officers were paid by the criminal organisation to make sure that the drugs were not intercepted as they were smuggled in the Spanish port of Algeciras.

In the frame of the investigation, the Spanish authorities conducted 34 raids which led to:

-The arrest of 61 individuals, including 7 under European Arrest Warrants issued by other countries;

-The seizure of 26 properties valued at over EUR 3 million;

-The seizure of 17 vehicles valued at over EUR 400 000;

-The seizure in cash of over EUR 1 million;

-The seizure of over 83 tonnes of hashish and 9 tonnes of cocaine. 

Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre supported the investigation by providing actionable intelligence and analytical support. On 11 May 2022, two Europol teams were deployed to Spain on the action day to facilitate the extensive exchange of information and provide forensic support for the seized electronic devices. 

Cases such as this one involving law enforcement and customs officers show how much corruption has infiltrated society. In its 2021 Serious Organised Crime Threat Assessment, Europol highlighted that over 60 % of criminal groups in the EU engage in corruption, making it a key threat to be addressed in the fight against serious organised crime. 

Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre has set up a dedicated team of experts – known as Analysis Project Corruption - to put a stop to it. 

https://www.europol.europa.eu

06/16/2022

Lithuania is planning to tighten anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing regulations on crypto

On Wednesday, Lithuania's local Ministry of Finance announced that it would introduce regulations to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing in the crypto market.

The Lithuanian government said it would increase its surveillance over crypto to combat money laundering threats and possible schemes by Russian elites to escape financial sanctions.

According to the local Ministry of Finance, multiple ministries of the Lithuanian government adopted law adjustments to Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing in the crypto sector. If passed by the Seimas, Lithuania's legislature, the current law's revisions would tighten user identification rules, and anonymous accounts would no longer be allowed.

The regulations would further tighten requirements for exchange operators, requiring them to register as a corporate body with at least 125,000 euros in nominal capital by January 1, 2023. The senior management of such organisations would have to be comprised of permanent residents of Lithuania.

The announcement justified the move in light of the growing crypto industry and the associated geopolitical risks. It said, "More nuanced regulation of the suppliers of crypto-services is also important considering the international regulatory tendencies and the geopolitical situation in the region when many Western countries impose financial and other sanctions on Russian Federation and Belarus." 

Lithuania's Minister of Finance, Gintarė Skaistė, mentioned in her official statement that the national procedures are in compliance with the future pan-European regulations. The announcement highlights the rapid rise of the country's crypto enterprises following a regulatory tightening in neighbouring Estonia — there were only eight new crypto companies in 2020, but 188 new organisations appeared in 2021.

In September 2021, Estonia announced a modification to the AML act. Non-custodial software wallets and decentralised finance products would immediately be prohibited under the revised law. The European Parliament passed an AML legislation package in April 2022, which could result in extreme transparency requirements for transactions between non-custodial wallets and crypto exchanges in the European Union.

A Ministry of Finance spokesperson stated that the new mandate is not intended to shut down multinational crypto firms but to emphasise the importance of good business strategies and following regulations. They also stated, "The new requirement for crypto companies to have a senior manager that would be a permanent resident of Lithuania is orientated towards better communication with supervisory institutions and ensuring the connection to the local market."

The spokesperson also informed that the draft legislation has yet to be approved by the parliament. The law's amendments are set to take effect on November 1, 2022. Most main clauses would go into force on January 1, 2023.

https://www.forbesindia.com

06/15/2022

11 June 2022, Berlin – Financial Action Task Force (FATF) President Dr. Marcus Pleyer urged the public and private sectors to work together by using new technologies to make efforts to combat money laundering and terrorist financing more efficient and effective.

“If we operate in bubbles – a bubble fighting crime – a bubble protecting privacy rights – a bubble for the private sector – a bubble for developing new technology – then we fail to address the real problems we face today. Connecting the dots across our various specialisations lets us see the bigger picture and solve the big problems of today and tomorrow,” Dr. Pleyer told the Conference on Digital Transformation in Berlin on Saturday.

More than 100 experts in financial crime, data protection, and technology gathered to discuss the potential benefits and challenges of digital transformation in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

The conference marked the completion of four projects under the FATF’s German Presidency, which has extensively considered the potential impact of new technologies on anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorist financing systems.

The FATF has proactively engaged with a range of national and international data protection and privacy (DPP) organisations to encourage greater compatibility of DPP and AML requirements, one of the key challenges identified by the private sector to greater innovation. Digital transformation relies on building a culture that embraces the use of technology, encourages responsible innovation, and ensures the protection of individual data rights, Dr. Pleyer said.

Keynote speaker, Deputy Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone of the UK Information Commissioner Office, also emphasised that AML and DPP are not mutually exclusive and can co-exist. He highlighted the importance of AML initiatives taking into account privacy concerns at the outset, and the opportunity for DPP authorities in shaping these initiatives.

FATF Ministers have identified Digital Transformation as a strategic priority of the FATF. Ahead of the Conference, the FATF published a Digital Strategy for Law Enforcement Agencies that focuses on key questions for digital transformation for money laundering and terrorist financing investigations and information exchanges.

The incoming FATF President, Mr T. Raja Kumar, whose term begins in July, committed to continuing engagement and work in this area. "Digital transformation is a necessity. Not a good-to-have, not a nice-to-have, but an imperative if you are going to keep up and win against the criminals," he told the conference.

A report on data protection will be considered by the FATF Plenary, the decision making body of the FATF, this week. If approved, it will be published in July 2022.

 

https://www.fatf-gafi.org

06/14/2022

-DMCC in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Economy and the Executive Office of the UAE Bullion Committee hosted two-day training session focused on the regulatory environment supporting the precious metals industry

- The training sought to enhance the current capacity in the industry and ensure the country’s broader efforts on anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism are being implemented

Dubai, UAE: DMCC – the world’s flagship Free Zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise – successfully hosted a two-day training session on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and Responsible Sourcing in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Economy and the Executive Office of the UAE Bullion Committee.

In reference to the Federal Decree Law No (20) of 2018 on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations, the two-day training session focused on the regulatory environment supporting the precious metals industry and discussed a wide range of important topics including money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud, bribery, and corruption, in addition to the ISAE 3000 standards for responsible sourcing reviews.

Held at DMCC’s headquarters in Almas Tower, the two-day session was led by industry leaders and specialised professionals from DMCC and the Executive Office of the UAE Bullion Committee with sessions delivered by experts from EY, the OECD, Responsible Gold and Al Tamimi & Co. The training sessions were attended by  participants from across the entire value chain in the gold sector. The training was designed to provide participants with the tools needed to address and combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

Feryal Ahmadi, Chief Operating Officer, DMCC, said: “AML and CFT need to be addressed on a global scale to ensure sustainable economic growth. The UAE has been taking great strides, creating a leading global hub with a robust regulatory and compliance framework where companies can trade and conduct businesses with transparency and confidence. As such, it is imperative that DMCC facilitates these salient conversations, supporting the long-term strength of the global commodities trade and ensuring a positive impact on communities throughout the commodities supply chain.”

Mohammed Al Kamali, Secretary-General of the Executive Office of the UAE Bullion Committee, stated: “We continuously strive to ensure that the industry is aware of the latest requirements and procedures. An important aspect of the training was to educate the sector regarding the recently launched UAE Good Delivery which is benchmarked to international procedures”. 

The UAE continues to implement an array of mechanisms to combat financial crime and strengthen the effectiveness of its AML and CFT efforts. To date, the UAE authorities have made unprecedented progress in adopting international standards for AML and CFT, with a particular focus on the precious metals industry. Through close and ongoing inter-agency coordination, international cooperation, and collaboration with the private sector, the UAE is set to further enhance its AML and CFT policies and response.

Similarly, DMCC has developed an effective compliance framework to ensure that all member companies’ operations are aligned with local and international laws, regulations, and best practices. With a clear emphasis on improving transparency and traceability, DMCC helps its member companies trade globally with confidence.

https://www.zawya.com

06/13/2022

How to undertake effective financial investigations to identify, investigate and disrupt the financing of terrorism was in focus during a five-day training course, which concluded today, 3 June 2022 in Sarajevo. The OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) jointly organized the training course with the support of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).

Twenty-two experts from the Ministry of Security of BiH, the BiH Prosecutor’s Office, the State Investigation and Protection Agency, Intelligence Security Agency of BiH, the Ministry of Interior of the Federation of BiH, the Ministry of Interior of Republika Srpska and Brčko District Police, including eight local trainers previously trained by the OSCE and UNODC, took part in the course.

They learned about techniques and methods to assist in the successful conduct of financial investigations as part of wider counter-terrorism operations. The course was particularly aimed at strengthening inter-agency co-operation through joint work on a realistic and localized scenario, which simulated an unfolding terrorist attack.

To strengthen links with international partners, a representative of the EUROPOL European Counter Terrorism Centre presented the wide array of support it can bring to local financial investigations.

The training programme on countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) has been implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina since December 2020 with the aim to further build the country’s CFT framework to better prevent terrorists from raising, using and moving for terrorist purposes, in line with international commitments and standards.

This course was organized with the financial support of the United States within the framework of the extra-budgetary project “Train-the-trainer and Training Courses on Countering Terrorist Financing”.

https://sarajevotimes.com

06/10/2022

Paris, 8 June 2022 - Law enforcement agencies around the world, regardless of their development and size, have been incorporating different digital tools and technologies to assist their daily work to detect and disrupt illicit financial flows.   

In May 2022, the FATF completed work that explores how law enforcement agencies can use technology, including advance analytics, to successfully investigate money laundering and terrorist financing, mitigate the risks of these crimes, and share information within the public sector and with the private sector in a secure manner. 

The full confidential report is available to public authorities, in particular law enforcement agencies. Operational agencies may get in touch with their domestic AML/CFT coordinating agency for access to the report.

As part of this project, the FATF published a public summary of key strategic questions that law enforcement agencies should be asking before embarking on their journeys of digital transformation. This summary also includes legal, ethical and other strategic considerations that need to be taken into account in an effective digital strategy.

This work complements the Phase 1 report on Digital Transformation of AML/CFT for Operational Agencies that focuses on detection of suspicious activities and analysis of financial intelligence and was completed in October 2021.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org

06/09/2022

Interpol

The suspect’s arrest follows a year of international police collaboration, acting on information initially shared by private partners.

SINGAPORE: The cybercrime unit of the Nigeria Police Force arrested a 37-year-old Nigerian man in an international operation spanning four continents, coordinated and facilitated by the recently created Africa operations desk within INTERPOL’s cybercrime directorate.

The suspect is alleged to have run a transnational cybercrime syndicate that launched mass phishing campaigns and business email compromise schemes targeting companies and individual victims.

Law enforcement and cybersecurity firms have witnessed the striking increase in many forms of cybercrime in recent years, exploiting the context of COVID-19 and forming what INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock has called a “parallel pandemic”.

INTERPOL’s Africa desk, called the African Joint Operation against Cybercrime (AFJOC) and funded by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, was launched in May 2021 to boost the capacity of 49 African countries to fight cybercrime.

Tracking the suspect’s movements, online and offline

That same month, the police operation, codenamed Delilah, was initiated by an intelligence referral from several INTERPOL partners from the private sector: Group-IB, Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 and Trend Micro.

The intelligence was enriched by analysts within INTERPOL’s Cyber Fusion Centre, which brings together experts from law enforcement and industry to turn information on criminal activities into actionable intelligence. INTERPOL’s AFJOC desk then referred the intelligence to Nigeria and followed up with multiple case coordination meetings supported by law enforcement in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Investigators began to map out and track the alleged malicious online activities of the suspect, thanks to ad hoc support from private sector firm CyberTOOLBELT, as well as tracking his physical movements as he travelled from one country to another. Nigerian law enforcement successfully apprehended the suspect at Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.

“The arrest of this alleged prominent cybercriminal in Nigeria is testament to the perseverance of our international coalition of law enforcement and INTERPOL’s private sector partners in combating cybercrime.” Garba Baba Umar, Assistant Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force, Head of Nigeria’s INTERPOL National Central Bureau and Vice President for Africa on INTERPOL’s Executive Committee.

“I hope the results of Operation Delilah will stand as a reminder to cybercriminals across the world that law enforcement will continue to pursue them, and that this arrest will bring comfort to victims of the suspect’s alleged campaigns,” the Assistant Inspector General added.

“This case underlines both the global nature of cybercrime and the commitment required to deliver a successful arrest through a global to regional operational approach in combatting cybercrime,” said Bernardo Pillot, INTERPOL’s Assistant Director, Cybercrime Operations.

“The persistence of national law enforcement agencies, private sector partners and the INTERPOL teams all contributed to this result, analysing vast quantities of data and providing technical and live operational support,” Mr Pillot added. “Cybercrime is a threat that none of our 195 member countries face alone.”

At a time of increased cyber threats targeting businesses and the general public, INTERPOL encourages everyone to follow the safety advice featured in our #JustOneClick, #WashYourCyberHands and other online awareness campaigns, visible on our @INTERPOL_Cyber Twitter page.

https://www.interpol.int

06/08/2022

Pakistan - Punjab University Hailey College of Banking & Finance (HCBF) in collaboration with the National Institute of Banking & Finance (NIBAF) organised a seminar on “Money Laundering”.

Joint Director of State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) currently working with NAB, Lahore Gulzar Khan, Principal HCBF Prof Dr Mubbsher Munawar Khan, Joint Director NIBAF Rao Ahmed Mukhtar, faculty members, students and employees attended the seminar.

In his address, Gulzar Khan gave a detailed presentation on threats caused to the national sovereignty and the economy by the menace of money laundering. He also briefed the participants on the protocol of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). He also highlighted areas to be strengthened for placing the country on the FATF.

Rao Ahmed Mukhtar briefed the regulatory framework of SBP in developing a comprehensive policy to be practiced by the banks for control of money laundering.

Dr Mubbsher Munawar Khan also spoke on the threats caused by money laundering. He stressed the need to promote public awareness on this issue. He appreciated the efforts of the SBP officials in sharing their knowledge and experience with the students of HCBF.

https://pakobserver.net

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