E.g., 06/29/2023
E.g., 06/29/2023

An unprecedented law enforcement operation involving 17 countries has resulted in the takedown of Genesis Market, one of the most dangerous marketplaces selling stolen account credentials to hackers worldwide. As a result of an action day on 4 April, this illegal service was shut down and its infrastructure seized. 

Simultaneous actions were also carried out across the globe against the users of this platform, resulting in 119 arrests, 208 property searches and 97 knock and talk measures. 

This international sweep was led by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Dutch National Police (Politie), with a command post set up at Europol’s headquarters on the action day to coordinate the different enforcement measures being carried out across the globe. 

Genesis Market was considered one of the biggest criminal facilitators, with over 1.5 million bot listings totalling over 2 million identities at the time of its takedown. 

Why was Genesis Market so dangerous? 

Genesis Market’s main criminal commodity was digital identities. This marketplace would offer for sale what the market owners referred to as ‘bots’ that had infected victims’ devices through malware or account takeovers attacks. 

Upon purchase of such a bot, criminals would get access to all the data harvested by it such as fingerprints, cookies, saved logins and autofill form data. This information was collected in real time – the buyers would be notified of any change of passwords, etc. 

The price per bot would range from as little as USD 0.70 up to several hundreds of dollars depending on the amount and nature of the stolen data. The most expensive would contain financial information which would allow access to online banking accounts. 

The criminals buying these special bots were not only provided with stolen data, but also with the means of using it. Buyers were provided with a custom browser which would mimic the one of their victim. This allowed the criminals to access their victim’s account without triggering any of the security measures from the platform the account was on. These security measures include recognising a different log-in location, a different browser fingerprint or a different operating system. 

In addition, unlike other criminal marketplaces, Genesis Market was accessible on the open web, although obscured from law enforcement behind an invitation-only veil. Its accessibility and cheap prices greatly lowered the barrier of entry for buyers, making it a popular resource among hackers. 

The law enforcement response

The takedown of Genesis Market was a priority for law enforcement given the platform’s ability to facilitate all types of cybercrime. 

Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has been supporting this investigation since 2019 by coordinating the international activity with the help of the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) hosted at Europol. EC3’s support included data analysis, the organisation of operational meetings and the facilitation of the information exchange. A command post was also set-up at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands to ensure the smooth running of the action day across the world. 

Eurojust actively facilitated the cross-border judicial cooperation between the national authorities involved. The Agency hosted a coordination meeting in March 2023 to prepare for this week’s operation and hosted a command center on 4 April to resolve any legal issues arising during the parallel operations in 13 countries.

Commenting on this operation, the Head of Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre, Edvardas Šileris, said:

Through the combined efforts of all the law enforcement authorities involved, we have severely disrupted the criminal cyber ecosystem by removing one of its key enablers. With victims located across the globe, the strong relationships with our international partners were critical in the success of this case.”

How to tell whether your data was stolen 

With over 1.5 million bots listed on Genesis Market, chances are that your credentials have already ended up for sale on this criminal marketplace. 

The Dutch Police has developed a portal to check whether your information has been compromised. Visit https://www.politie.nl/checkyourhack and fill in your email address to control whether it is part of a Genesis Market leak. 

If your digital identity has been stolen, here are the steps you should take:

-Run your antivirus programme. In most cases, your antivirus will catch the malware and remove it. Only then should you change all your passwords – not before if you do not want the cybercriminals getting their hands on them. 

-Notify relevant stakeholders. Your bank, insurance company and any other important third party should be made aware of your identify theft.

Remember that cybercriminals are quick at adapting their techniques to benefit from any opportunity. There are simple preventive actions you can take to make it more difficult for them to access your devices and data: 

-If available, use antivirus software on all your electronic devices.

-Keep your software updated, including your browser, antivirus and operating system.

-Browse and download only official versions of software and always from trusted websites.

-Be wary while browsing the internet and do not click on suspicious links, pop-ups or dialog boxes.

-Think twice before clicking on links or attachments within unexpected emails.

-Set up unique passwords. Generate strong passwords or passphrases for each individual website and service. This is where the use of a password manager comes in handy.

-Activate multifactor authentication functionality whenever possible for all of your accounts.

The following law enforcement authorities took part in this investigation:

Australia: Australian Federal Police (AFP), State and Territory Police Forces

Canada: 25 Law Enforcement Agencies supported by Sûreté du Québec (SQ) & Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP)

Denmark: National Police (Politi)

Estonia: Police and Border Guard Board (Politsei ja Piirivalveamet)

Finland: National Bureau of Investigation (Keskusrikospoliisi/ Centralkriminalpolisen)

France: National Police (Police Nationale)

Germany: Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt)

Italy: National Police (Polizia di Stato)

Netherlands: National Police (Politie)

New Zealand: New Zealand Police - Ngā Pirihimana o Aotearoa

Poland: Central Cybercrime Bureau (Centralne Biuro Zwalczania Cyberprzestępczości)

Romania: National Police (Poliția Română)

Spain: National Police (Policia Nacional) and Civil Guard (Guardia Civil)

Sweden: Swedish Police Authority (Polisen)

Switzerland: Federal Police (fedpol), Cantonal Police of Zurich (Kantonspolizei Zürich)

United Kingdom: National Crime Agency (NCA)

United States: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)



April 11, 2023

PODGORICA, Montenegro--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Central Bank of Montenegro (CBCG) has agreed to collaborate with the enterprise crypto and blockchain solutions provider Ripple to develop a strategy and pilot programme to launch the country’s first digital currency in the form of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) or national stablecoin. Aligning with the CBCG’s core objectives, the digital currency’s introduction is another step forward to digitising financial services and fostering a world of greater financial accessibility for Montenegro’s citizens.

A CBDC is a digitised version of the currency issued by central banks. Today, over a hundred countries are exploring and developing a CBDC for many use cases including widening financial inclusion, modernising monetary policy, improving payment security and increasing cross-border payments efficiency.

Simultaneously, the European Central Bank is working to develop the Digital euro concept as a future means of safe, secure, and practical electronic payment in the euro area.

The CBCG Governor Radoje Žugić noted that “as a central bank committed to following up-to-date national banking trends, the CBCG is actively ensuring it maintains an efficient financial system. We look forward to collaborating with Ripple on the pilot project for creating CBDC or stablecoin.

Through the project, the CBCG will work with the Government of Montenegro and Montenegro’s academia to create a practical digital currency or secure currency solution to test the main blockchain technology’s functionality and potential. It will also analyse the advantages and risks that CBDCs or national stablecoins could pose concerning electronic means of payment availability, security, efficiency, compliance with regulations, and most importantly, the protection of end users’ rights and privacy.”

The project will go through several stages, including identifying the practical application of a digital currency or national stablecoin and the design to simulate its circulation and use under controlled conditions.

“The Central Bank of Montenegro is bringing the next level of digital transformation to its financial infrastructure and addressing some of the world’s biggest financial challenges, including financial inclusion,” said James Wallis, Ripple’s Vice President of Central Bank Engagements & CBDCs. “Ripple has a proven track record of successfully connecting disparate payment systems and championing blockchain’s utility to issue Central Bank Digital Currencies and solve for global payments to hundreds of financial institutions around the world. We are pleased that the CBCG has chosen Ripple to help launch its first digital currency and further address the country’s core financial objectives.”



National trainings in Central Asia for law enforcement, customs, and border control officers to counter international firearms trafficking and terrorism in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan

The United Nations Centre of Counter-Terrorism (UNCCT) of the United Nations Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) jointly conducted a series of five-day national trainings on ‘Countering Firearms Trafficking, Terrorism, and other crimes. Tools for effective investigation and prosecution’ in the Kyrgyz Republic (24–28 October 2022), the Republic of Kazakhstan (31 October – 4 November 2022), the Republic of Uzbekistan (21-25 November 2022), the Republic of Tajikistan (12-16 December 2022) and Turkmenistan (13-17 March 2023).

The trainings aimed to build the capacities of criminal justice, customs, and border control, as well as arms control authorities. In total, the series of workshops trained over 90 representatives from the relevant state institutions of each country such as State Committees for National Security, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Ministry of Defense, Supreme Court, State Customs Service, General Prosecutor's Office among others.

The trainings were designed to strengthen the capacities of those who detect, interdict, investigate and prosecute terrorism cases related to the illegal production, trafficking, and/or diversion of small arms and light weapons (SALW) and connect them with other serious crimes. Special consideration was given to gender and human rights in all relevant cases. 

Participants were briefed on the global dimension and the impact of illicit trafficking in firearms, with a focus on how these illicit activities are connected to and support terrorism. They also received an introduction to the United Nations main instruments to prevent terrorists from acquiring these firearms. Moreover, participants learned about national legal frameworks related to firearms and terrorism, and how to overcome legislative gaps and challenges during the investigation and prosecution phases.

The courses were a follow-up to trainings that were organized for national authorities of Central Asian countries earlier last year within the framework of the project on “Preventing and Combatting the Illicit Trafficking of SALW and their Illicit supply to Terrorists.” 

This initiative is funded by Canada.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, in his latest Report on Small Arms and Light Weapons (2021) stated that “threats related to the misuse, illicit transfer and destabilizing accumulation of small arms and light weapons and their ammunition have remained a defining factor in undermining peace and security at the national, regional and global levels.”



FATF Press Release

14 April 2023, Tokyo – This week, the Virtual Assets Contact Group of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) met in Tokyo to discuss global progress and challenges in regulating virtual assets. The Group stressed that countries worldwide need to urgently implement the FATF Standards to effectively regulate and supervise this sector.

“It is becoming more and more important to strengthen AML/CFT/CPF measures on virtual assets in light of the growing risk of virtual assets being misused for money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing, including theft and misuse of virtual assets by North Korea.”, Keynote speaker, Suzuki Eikei Parliamentary Vice-Minister for Financial Services, told the Group in Tokyo on Wednesday.

Since the FATF strengthened its Recommendation 15 in October 2018 to address virtual assets and virtual asset service providers, many countries have failed to implement these revised requirements, including the ‘travel rule’ which requires obtaining, holding and transmitting originator and beneficiary information relating to virtual assets transactions. The lack of regulation of virtual assets in many countries creates opportunities that criminals and terrorist financiers exploit.

The Virtual Assets Contact group brought together officials from 19 jurisdictions and international organisations and 80 industry representatives from virtual assets service providers, blockchain analytics companies, industry bodies and financial institutions. They discussed progress on implementing the FATF Standards on virtual assets (including the ‘travel rule’), challenges for effective implementation of the FATFs requirements for this sector, and emerging risks and threats.

The discussions from the meeting will feed into the 2023 FATF targeted update on global implementation of the FATF Standards (including the ‘travel rule’) and responses to emerging risks like decentralised financing (DeFi) and peer-to-peer transactions. The FATF expects to finalise the report in June 2023.

In February 2023, the FATF Plenary agreed on a roadmap to strengthen implementation of FATF Standards on virtual assets and virtual asset service providers. As part of this work, in the first half of 2024, the FATF will report on steps FATF members and FSRB countries with materially important virtual asset activity have taken to regulate and supervise virtual asset service providers.



The European Union intends to introduce legislation to trace and identify cryptoasset transfers, as part of a wider anti-money laundering push.

Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have adopted draft legislation strengthening EU rules against money laundering and terrorist financing with MEPs set to negotiate the final shape of the legislation with EU governments. The parliament will vote on it during its plenary session in April.

Ernest Urtasun MEP says: “Criminals thrive where rules allowing for confidentiality allow for secrecy and anonymity. With this proposal for a regulation, the EU will close this loophole.”

Under the new rules, cryptoasset transfers will, much like traditional money transfers, have to include information on their source and the beneficiary, including transactions from private user digital wallets.

Before making a cryptoasset available to beneficiaries, providers such as crypto exchanges would have to verify that the source of the asset is not subject to restrictive measures and that there are no risks of money laundering or terrorism financing.

The rules would not apply to person-to-person transfers or among exchanges and providers acting on their own behalf.

“Technological solutions should ensure that these asset transfers can be individually identified,” the parliament says.

MEPs have also decided to remove minimum thresholds and exemptions for low-value transfers and want the European Banking Authority (EBA) to set up a public register of crypto firms that may have a high risk of money-laundering, terrorist financing and other criminal activities.



For effective compliance with Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) laws, the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) Tuesday, began a three-day training for operators of Bureau De Change.

The Director General, GIABA, Mr Edwin W. Harris in his remarks, noted that while the Mutual Evaluation Report of Nigeria captured 4,798 registered forex dealers with an asset base of $469,734,000.000, the sector has remained vulnerable to money laundering and terrorism financing activities.

According to him, limited awareness of money laundering and terrorism financing, attendant risks as well as poor implementation of preventive measures are some of the challenges confronting the sector.

Represented by the Acting Director, of Evaluation and Compliance, Dr Jeffrey Isima, the D.G stated that the primary objective of the workshop was to provide a platform for participants to share experiences and foster cooperation and collaboration for effective implementation of AML/CFT preventive measures in the currency exchange sector.

He said: “Specifically, the workshop seeks to raise awareness, develop a common understanding among stakeholders and enhance the capacity of participants on ML/TF issues within the foreign exchange bureau sector.

“It also seeks to enhance risk-based supervision of the sector, provide a platform for sharing of experiences and good practices on AML/CFT issues as well as promote cooperation, coordination and engagement among relevant competent authorities, self-regulatory authority (ABCON) and foreign exchange operators on how to effectively implement AML/CFT preventive measures.”

About 150 participants were drawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) and foreign exchange bureau operators.

The D.G. also expressed concern over the preponderance of black market operators, and the fact that a number of the transactions are cash-based, which he said, constitutes a serious ML/TF risk.

“These findings are consistent with the outcomes of a typology study on Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing through the Informal and Illegal Currency Exchange Service Providers in West Africa published by GIABA in 2020.

“The study found the sector vulnerable to ML/TF and concluded that money laundering through foreign currency exchange operations is a very efficient way of disguising the true origin of illegal proceeds and their integration into the legal financial system in the region.

“Some elements of context-specific to Nigeria call for attention when considering the currency exchange sector. Nigeria has the largest economy and financial sector in the region and has significant trade with countries in the region with important cash-based transactions.

“It also shares borders with countries that are members of two distinct monetary zones – The West African CFA zone and the Central African CFA zone. Trade and financial exchanges with these neighbouring countries involve currency exchange and therefore, a strong demand of Bureaus de Change services.

“The galloping inflation that the world economy is experiencing as well as the depreciation of the Naira, has led to greater demand for international currencies, in particular the US Dollar.”

The D.G., therefore, called on national stakeholders to cooperate and collaborate to improve the compliance of the currency exchange sector with acceptable international AML/FT preventive measures.

“On its part, GIABA will continue to provide technical support to its member States, including Nigeria to protect their national economies and financial systems against money laundering and terrorism financing.

Speaking, the President, of the Association of Bureau de Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON), Alhaji Aminu Gwadabe, commended GIABA for the training, insisting that crime prevention requires such a step-by-step approach including knowledge and information dissemination. According to him, the association comprised all licensed Bureau de Change that works together with the government against money laundering and terrorism, financing.

“As an association, we support any major reforms that will enhance the capacity of members. it is about working the theory, working the talk.

“We are moving a step forward from theory to effectiveness. That is the purpose of this workshop, and we have members from all six Geo-Political Zones of the country. We are willing to learn, unlearn and relearn.

Describing BDC as a trillion-naira sector, Gwadabe noted that aside from contributing greatly to the nation’s economy, the association has over time, helped in bridging the gap between the official and so-called a parallel market.

He however decried some stringent policies from the Central Bank which tend to suffocate operators by shutting down every avenue of sourcing foreign currencies, especially the diaspora remittance. This, he said, has greatly affected members and placed by fate in the hands of CBN regulators.



New Delhi, 6 April 2023 - This week, over 140 experts from across the FATF global network gathered at the FATF Joint Experts Meeting 2023 in New Delhi to discuss new or emerging money laundering and terrorist financing risks and ways to address them.

The FATF conducts work in a range of areas to identify the methods and trends that criminals use to launder money or fund terrorism and the annual Joint Experts' Meeting (JEM) provides a unique platform to build on and update understanding, based on the evidence and insights of law enforcement, financial intelligence, and security agency experts.

During the three-day event, hosted by the Indian Ministry of Finance, Department of Revenue, experts exchanged insights on money laundering and terrorist financing risks including cyber-enabled fraud, the misuse of citizenship and residency investment programs and terrorist financing through crowdfunding. They also discussed emerging terrorist financing risks, challenges faced by law enforcement authorities investigating and prosecuting money laundering and good practices and methods to tackle them.

In addition to the JEM, the FATF and UNODC held a joint one-day workshop on the risks and challenges associated with hawala and similar service providers. Authorities discussed measures and ways to increase the effectiveness of the global network to address these risks, while recognizing the need to safeguard financial inclusion efforts.

In his opening speech, the FATF President Raja Kumar welcomed global participants to this first physical JEM since 2019 and thanked the Indian government for hosting the event. He also reiterated that JEM offers a great forum for experts to share operational knowledge and experience, and to steer the FATF on the best course to deal with new and emerging risks and threats.

The discussion provided valuable input into FATF’s ongoing work, which will be discussed further at the June 2023 FATF Plenary in Paris.



The EU is in the final stages of launching a package of measures to shield the bloc from money laundering and terrorist financing at home and abroad, which each year is worth around €715bn to €1.87 trillion globally.


Until now, the competent authorities in each member state have been responsible for enforcement at the national level. But their success has not always been clear.


In 2022, "financial institutions have paid more than $5bn [€4.6bn] in fines for breaching current rules," said a leading MEP from the Socialists & Democrats, Eero Heinäluoma.


And every day, the European citizen loses €5 to money laundering, according to Renew Group MEP Dragos Pislaru. "This means less money for proper healthcare services, less money spent for our education system, for infrastructure investments and all the measures that could improve our wellbeing."


With a common European authority, "national authorities will no longer fall short on their responsibilities", said Green MEP Damien Carême during a virtual press conference on Tuesday (March 28).


A pan-European authority (the Anti-Money Laundering Authority, AMLA) will be set up to monitor correct application of the rules, detect possible threats and demand countermeasures (also from third countries), while being able to impose sanctions against non-compliant entities.


Parliament's proposal is that the new AMLA should have direct oversight of the 40 riskiest financially-obliged entities, which may include crypto-asset providers, and in the event that the competent national authority fails, AMLA should be able to extend its powers to other financial institutions.


In addition, with all the information collected, the authority will compile a centralised database to understand at a glance the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing across the EU.


The creation of this authority is one of three parts of the anti-money laundering package voted on Tuesday by the parliament's economic and home affairs committees, which also includes a 'single rulebook' with due diligence and transparency obligations, and an update of the existing directive.


"Strengthening oversight and harmonising legislation are two simple tools to close loopholes in the existing rules," said Carême.


To this end, parliament proposes extending the scope of these rules to NFT (non-fungible tokens) platforms, crypto-asset provider services, professional football clubs, or luxury traders.


These outfits would then be subject to due diligence processes and any suspicion of money laundering or terrorist financing by their clients should be reported to the competent authority for investigation.


Another way to avoid such loopholes, said the Green MEP, is to ban golden visas, which grant EU citizenship to foreigners who invest a "substantial" amount in an EU country.


In response to the limitations of existing rules, demonstrated during the imposition of sanctions on Russian oligarchs and other personalities connected to the invasion of Ukraine, mandatory registrations on beneficial ownership, bank accounts, land or real estate registers have been demanded.


Especially on assets worth more than €200,000. "We will also know who owns high-value assets such as yachts or private planes, and how the assets were purchased," explained MEP Luděk Niedermayer (EPP).


The details of the final package will be agreed during the inter-institutional negotiations (the so-called 'trilogues'), which are scheduled for May. Before that, parliament will still have to vote on Tuesday's agreed position with the other MEPs at the April plenary session.





More than 120 delegates representing MONEYVAL members and observers attended the annual MONEYVAL typologies meeting which took place virtually on the 24th of March 2023. Led by Isle of Man, the project analyses various aspects of the potential use of virtual assets (VA) and virtual asset service providers (VASPs) in money laundering or terror financing schemes. Issues related to risk, supervision and suspicious activity reporting are included in the scope of the report.

The topic of VA and VASPs has evolved tremendously in the recent years. A range of new products, services and business models have been developed that have the potential to spur financial innovation and efficiency and improve financial inclusion, but they also create new opportunities for criminals and terrorists to launder their proceeds or finance their illicit activities.

 The meeting was opened by Ms Elżbieta Franków-Jaśkiewicz, MONEYVAL Chair.

In the course of the debates, the project team gave a detailed presentation of the content of the draft report and the audience heard from experience of Malta, Gibraltar, Estonia, Romania, Liechtenstein, UNODC and FATF Secretariat.

Following this meeting and using the output of the debates, the project team together with the Secretariat will finalize the typologies report, with a view to its adoption by the MONEYVAL Plenary meeting in May 2023.



UN Office of Counter-Terrorism - UNOCT

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Coordination Compact held a virtual expert-level briefing to Member States ahead of the upcoming 8th biennial review of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, on Friday, 17 March 2023.

The event included the participation of some of the Chairs of the 8 thematic Compact Working Groups, a civil society representative and over 50 Member States. The briefing aimed at showcasing the central role of the Counter-Terrorism Compact in support of Member States’ balanced and integrated implementation of the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

The briefing, moderated by Mr. Rafi Shah, Chief of the Policy, Knowledge Management and Coordination Branch of UNOCT, included remarks from the representatives of Canada and Tunisia in their role as co-facilitators of   the 8th review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, as well as a civil society representative. The Counter-Terrorism Compact Secretariat presented the added value of the Coordination Platform to Member States and highlighted the strategic priorities for 2023. Chairs of the Compact Working Groups presented their priorities related to the 8th review of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, highlighting human rights and gender mainstreaming considerations, as well as the need for joint resource mobilization and a full-fledged evaluation of the implementation of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy across all Compact Entities, as part of the upcoming review. 

This event is part of the roadmap of the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy review process, and the outcome of the discussion will also feed into the side events to be organized on the margins of the Third United Nations Counter-Terrorism Week, scheduled to take place from 19 to 23 June 2023.



Law enforcement gathering to address regional crime threats including drug trafficking, cybercrime and environmental crime

SANTIAGO, Chile – Enhancing transnational cooperation to tackle current and emerging regional crime threats is the focus of INTERPOL’s 25th Americas Regional Conference.

Drug trafficking, human trafficking, environmental crime and cybercrime are among the key issues to be addressed during the three-day conference (21 – 23 March) with countries sharing their insights and expertise towards developing a cohesive regional strategy.

Opening the meeting, Chile’s Minister of Interior and Public Security Carolina Tohá Morales, said: “INTERPOL is not a political organization, but it does require political support. My presence is to tell you that for our President, this organization can count on our support, first line support, because we understand it as fundamental in order to combat crime.”

INTERPOL-coordinated operations across the region, such as Operation Turquesa IV targeting human trafficking and migrant smuggling across Latin America and the Caribbean, have seen significant results in addition to highlighting the global nature of organized crime.

Sergio Muñoz Yáñez, Director General of the Policia de Investigaciones de Chile (PDI) said: “The term ‘globalization of crime’ is a reality that today plagues every part of our continent. A united and collaborative police community is the best strategy to tackle transnational organized crime.

“The values and principles that inspired the creation of INTERPOL 100 years ago remain more alive and permanent than ever.”

Crime trends in the Americas

Illicit firearms trafficking, online child sexual abuse and ransomware were highlighted among the region’s top crime threats, according to INTERPOL’s 2022 Global Crime Trend Report. “This week’s conference brings together INTERPOL members from across a strategic region which represents more than one billion people,” said INTERPOL President Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi.

“Our discussions in coming days are an opportunity to understand how we can better protect them, and dive deeper into the crimes that threaten safety across the region.”

Encouraging even greater use of INTERPOL’s 19 global databases is also a key issue. Containing some 127 million records, more than 1.3 billion checks have been carried out so far in 2023, resulting in some 283,000 hits – each a potential break in an investigation.

“No criminal landscape is alike across the world. Whether across the Americas or in the rest of the globe, some dynamics are borderless. These are the threats we face,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock. “Ensuring fast, efficient and secure sharing of actionable police information is at the heart of INTERPOL’s mission and why we are gathered here today.

100 years of supporting Americas law enforcement

The Americas region has played a central role in INTERPOL’s 100-year history since the Organization was founded in 1923. The United States of America was one of 20 countries represented at the police congress in Vienna, Austria that established the International Criminal Police Commission, as INTERPOL was originally called.

In 1965 the Organization held its first Americas Regional Conference in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and in May 1990 an agreement was signed with Argentina for the establishment of an INTERPOL Regional Office for South America, the first of its kind.

This would eventually become the Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires which today serves 12 countries, and in September 2003, the Regional Bureau for Central America was opened in San Salvador.

The Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires also hosts one of the Organization’s three Command and Coordination Centres - the first point of contact for any country requiring urgent assistance from the General Secretariat or from another country.



Immediate Release March 24, 2023

WASHINGTON—Today, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) published its first set of guidance materials to aid the public, and in particular the small business community, in understanding upcoming beneficial ownership information (BOI) reporting requirements taking effect on January 1, 2024.

The new regulations require many corporations, limited liability companies, and other entities created in or registered to do business in the United States to report information about their beneficial owners—the persons who ultimately own or control the company—to FinCEN.

“The Corporate Transparency Act, through its beneficial ownership reporting requirements, provides the historic opportunity to unmask shell companies and protect the U.S. financial system from abuse by money launderers, drug traffickers, sanctioned oligarchs, and other criminals,” said Himamauli Das, Acting Director of FinCEN.

“We are committed to making this transparency process as simple as possible, particularly for small businesses who may have never heard of or interacted with FinCEN before.”

The following materials are now available on FinCEN’s beneficial ownership information reporting webpage, www.fincen.gov/boi:

-Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the reporting requirement.

-One Pagers on Key Filing Dates and Key Questions.

-An Introductory Video and more detailed Informational Video about the reporting requirement.

Additional guidance will be published at www.fincen.gov/boi in the coming months, to include a Small Entity Compliance Guide. Please check back often for more information.



CANADA - A new bill introduced by Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne would require federally-incorporated companies to publish their owners names yearly.

The “beneficial ownership” bill applies only to a few companies as most are incorporated in their home provinces.

“Greater corporate transparency and accountability are needed,” Champagne said in a statement. 

“This is why we are committed to implementing a beneficial ownership registry.”

Bill C-42 An Act to Amend the Canada Business Corporations Act requires that companies incorporated under the Act annually submit the names and home addresses of individuals holding “significant control.”

The information would be published on an industry department website beginning in 2025.

An omnibus budget bill C-19 passed in June 2022 allowed the department to compile data for public disclosure, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.

The Senate Banking committee, at hearings last May 11, complained the scope of the bill was too narrow. 

“How do we deal with money laundering across this country?” asked Senator Hassan Yussuff, who noted most companies, like real estate developers, are incorporated provincially, not under federal law.

Toronto-based advocacy group Transparency International Canada (TIC) said public registries have effectively reduced money laundering in other jurisdictions.

“These registries have become more urgent as transnational criminal networks and foreign state actors seek to exploit liberal democracies and hide dirty money,” said TIC in a statement. 

“Currently, 108 countries have made commitments to publicly accessible registries.” TIC in a 2019 report Opacity: Why Criminals Love Canadian Real Estate called Canada the “la la land for financial crime.” 

In Toronto, some $25 billion worth of transactions from 2008 to 2018 was deemed suspicious. 

“Vancouver is not the only Canadian target for criminals who want to hide dirty money in real estate,” said the TIC report.

In 2021 at the Senate National Finance committee, Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said the public disclosure of corporate owners was for Canadians “a big deal.” “This is a big deal and a big new step,” said Freeland. “I think this is really important to Canada,” said Freeland. “I see the world moving in this direction.”



Riyadh - Asharq Al-Awsat

Saudi authorities have been keen on strengthening legislative and regulatory frameworks to combat money laundering crimes, confirmed Deputy Governor for Supervision at the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) Yazeed AlSheikh.

Speaking at the 14th Compliance and Anti-Money Laundering (CAML) seminar in Riyadh, AlSheikh reaffirmed that the Kingdom attaches great importance to combating financial crimes, including money laundering and terrorism financing.

The deputy governor stressed that money laundering crimes and their accelerating developments constitute one of the major challenges facing the international community and governments worldwide.

It also negatively impacts the stability of financial and economic systems, explained AlSheikh, highlighting how this also threatens international peace and security.

AlSheikh stated that holding the CAML seminar reflects Saudi Arabia’s commitment to fulfilling its international obligations.

The seminar presents an appropriate opportunity for practitioners working in concerned authorities, financial institutions, and specific non-financial businesses and professions to learn about the best international experiences and practice in the field, added AlSheikh.

The exchange of experiences will strengthen and build the technical and knowledge capabilities of practitioners in the Kingdom, he reaffirmed.

Moreover, AlSheikh highlighted several important issues related to legislation and challenges related to combating proliferation financing and Internet fraud crimes.

CAML is organized by SAMA, Anti-Money Laundering Permanent Committee (AMLPC) and Refinitiv (An LSEG Business) and is held under the patronage of Ayman Alsayari, Governor of SAMA.

The annual event welcomes several regional and international speakers from Financial Institutions, Regulators, Technology firms and Advisory Groups. It is recognized as a valuable platform for an exchange of ideas and information between the Kingdom’s business leaders, financial institutions and local professionals.

CAML, in five sessions, tackled the topics including the latest global regulatory developments, the latest challenges in proliferation financing, cyber-enabled fraud crime, financial inclusion, and outsourcing AML activities.




Egypt’s national strategy to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism is a roadmap to protect Egypt’s financial and non-financial sectors from money laundering, terrorist financing, and arms proliferation, Chancellor Ahmed Saeed Khalil, head of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Unit, said. This will achieve financial stability, which will have a positive impact on supporting the Egyptian economy and achieving Sustainable Development Goals.

This came in a speech delivered by Counselor Khalil on Sunday at the launch of the Unit for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, the new phase of the National Strategy for Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, in the presence of members of the National Coordinating Committee in the field of Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism, and heads and representatives of relevant national authorities.

He stressed the need to ensure that the national strategy to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism, launched in 2013, is comprehensive and provides an integrated system to address these types of crimes in line with regional and international standards and conventions.

The Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Unit is co-ordinating with the National Co-ordination Committee, which specializes in combating money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as all other relevant entities, to develop the national strategy and update it regularly to keep pace with local, regional and international developments, he said.

“”The new phase of the strategy, which we are about to launch on Sunday, stems from the international standards issued in this regard, primarily the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), in light of its role as the international body charged with setting international standards in the fight against these crimes,” said Khalil.

“The strategy is in line with international and regional conventions concerned with combating these two crimes and other related crimes.

“Among them are the conventions on Combating Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, conventions related to the suppression of the financing of terrorism, conventions on combating transnational organized crime, as well as conventions related to preventing and combating corruption”.he added.

He stressed that the report on the mutual evaluation of measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing in Egypt, which was adopted by the Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) General Meeting in June 2021, was taken into account as well as international best practices in this regard.

He stressed that the principle of participation is one of the main pillars that led to the conclusion of the new phase of the national strategy, noting that all stakeholders were involved in the development and preparation of this version to make it a comprehensive strategy.

“This phase is an extension and an update of the objectives of the previous phase, especially concerning the objectives related to ensuring a common understanding of the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing at the national level, modernizing legislative and oversight frameworks in line with international standards, increasing the commitment of the entities subject to the requirements of combating them, and intensifying local, regional and international cooperation in this field,” he concluded.



INTERPOL’s Americas conference highlights need for coordination to tackle associated crimes

SANTIAGO, Chile – INTERPOL’s 25th Americas Regional Conference closed with a reinforced mandate for the Organization to unify the regional and global response to drug trafficking and linked criminal activities.

The three-day (21 – 23 March) meeting, which brought together some 100 senior police officials from 37 countries, provided a platform for in-depth exchanges on the varied challenges created by drug trafficking and associated crimes.

Ranging from an increased demand for illicit firearms, which aggravates the overall impact of violent crimes, to the massive profits enabling crime organizations to threaten national security, the pervasive nature of drug trafficking requires a reinforced and coordinated global law enforcement response.

Record drug seizures

“We continue to see record drug seizures in source, transit and destination countries, but little impact on market values,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“The exchanges here in Chile, combined with the concerns expressed to me by political leaders worldwide, reinforce the need for a revitalized global coalition to combat drug trafficking.

“But to be effective, there must be greater and more systematic sharing of information of all linked crimes, such as money laundering and firearms trafficking, and INTERPOL is ideally and uniquely placed to support this effort,” concluded Secretary General Stock.

Environmental crime trends

Emerging trends linked to environmental crimes, was also a key item on the conference agenda.

In addition to encouraging greater action to tackle illegal online wildlife markets, which continue to grow at an alarming rate, delegates also supported calls for stronger efforts to combat illegal mining, forestry crime, illegal waste and fisheries crime – all of which have a devastating effect on the economies and natural resources of the Americas Region.

A series of measures to address the threat posed by the nexus between organized crime and terrorism across the region were also supported by participants, including:

-enhancing the exchange of data on terrorists and terrorist organizations and their support mechanisms

-greater intelligence sharing on subjects and modus operandi linked to chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incidents and improvised explosive devices

-promoting the systematic inclusion of biometrics and financial information linked to terrorist and criminal profiles in INTERPOL databases and alerts.

With cyberattacks easily replicated in other countries or regions, increasing use of INTERPOL’s tools and capabilities to prevent, detect, investigate and disrupt cybercrime was also a key recommendation.

To mark INTERPOL’s Centenary, all four regional conferences will be held in the same year. The European session will take place in North Macedonia in May, with the African conference hosted by Angola in October, each bringing a regional perspective to global policing via INTERPOL.



AFP March 2023

The AFP is unleashing a highly-skilled, multi-agency taskforce to target criminals who are laundering tens of millions of dollars in Australia every day to bankroll lavish lifestyles and further crime.

Revealed today, Taskforce Avarus is the next targeted offensive against Australian and offshore organised criminals, who are laundering money through the nation’s financial system and property market at an alarming scale.

Recent investigations have exposed the extent of large-scale and systemic money laundering throughout Australia, with a high proportion driven by illicit drug trafficking.

It is believed billions of dollars are being laundered in Australia every year. Intelligence and investigations have revealed that:

-One Sydney criminal gang in 2022, on some days, was laundering $1 million every hour for three to five hours;

-On behalf of organised crime, students, foreign nationals and others are making multiple, significant illicit cash deposits in ATMs – going from one ATM to the next;

-Money mules are being flown throughout Australia to collect illicit money and then deposit it into ATMs;

-Safe houses across Australia are hiding illicit money – sometimes millions of dollars;

-Cash couriers have moved large amounts of illicit cash to “dead drop zones” in parks and bushland;

-Criminal syndicates are using baby formula, vitamins and high-end goods to launder money;

-Criminal syndicates are opening bank accounts in the names of law-abiding Australians to move money offshore; and;

-Illicit money is being used to invest in property, often further enriching organised crime.

Taskforce Avarus is using the firepower of the AFP, AUSTRAC, Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and Australian Border Force to unravel the complex structures and methods criminals adopt to hide their illicit money. With Commonwealth partners in the Taskforce, the AFP will also seek the participation of a number of public private relationships, including financial institutions that currently assist law enforcement to combat money laundering.

Working closely with private industry will make the sharing of information faster and increase bilateral capability. Overseas law enforcement agencies, which have significant partnerships with the AFP, will also work closely with the Taskforce.

The AFP collaborates with its law enforcement counterparts to target money laundering organisations and assist with arrests offshore and possible court processes in Australia.

Additionally, the AFP participates in the Five Eyes Law Enforcement Group’s Money Laundering Community of Practice, which brings together senior law enforcement leaders and subject matter experts to share intelligence and cooperate on international operations.

Australia will host the next face-to-face meeting of the Communities of Practice in Sydney later this year.

The AFP’s investigative resources now dedicated to the Taskforce have executed 164 search warrants.

Forty-two people have been arrested, 66 charges laid, and criminal groups have been deprived of more than $250 million in cash and assets.

Overall in 2022, the AFP charged 74 people with 82 money laundering offences. In the same year, the AFP-led Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) obtained restraining orders over criminal assets, including real estate, cash, cryptocurrency, vehicles, jewellery and luxury items, with a combined value of about $160 million.

Operation Avarus-Midas last month alone resulted in the arrest of nine people in Australia and one person in Malaysia. The AFP executed 13 premises search warrants across Sydney on 1 February, 2023. The CACT sought and obtained restraining orders in the Supreme Court of NSW over 20 properties, with all assets, including seized cash and luxury items totalling more than $200 million, including $30 million in cryptocurrency.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Eastern Command Stephen Dametto said money laundering undermined Australia’s national security, the economy and social security system.

“These money laundering syndicates being targeted by the taskforce are sophisticated, international groups with one purpose - to provide a shadow economy enabling crime,’’ Assistant Commissioner Dametto said.

"They exist only to launder money on behalf of organised crime and rely on the expertise of professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, to help them evade law enforcement.

“This dirty money that is laundered through our economy is not only bankrolling lavish lifestyles but also funding future crime, such as more illicit drug importations and weapons trafficking. Put simply, without the ability to launder their money, transnational serious organised crime ceases to function.

 “While law-abiding Australians are earning an honest day’s living, paying their taxes or being good community citizens, organised crime gangs are using money gained illegally to increase their wealth.

 “They are buying homes, commercial property, investing in our financial systems and living large without the financial pressures felt by ordinary Australians.”

AUSTRAC Deputy CEO Intelligence Dr John Moss said there was an inaccurate perception that money laundering was a victimless crime. ”It’s important to understand that money laundering is not something that just happens in movies. It is a real-world crime with real-world consequences, and not in some place far away, but right here in Australia, and in our communities,’’ Dr Moss said. “Criminals engage in the activities which are the most lucrative, like trafficking in drugs or humans. So when criminals are cleaning the money made from these crimes, people shouldn’t lose sight of the child that was exploited, or the violence and deaths caused by the trafficking of illicit drugs.

 “That’s why AUSTRAC is proud to be part of this taskforce and brings our strong partnership with the financial industry through the AUSTRAC-led Fintel Alliance, our deep expertise in Financial Intelligence and our regulatory powers to work with our law enforcement partners to hit transnational, serious and organised crime where it hurts.”

ABF Assistant Commissioner Erin Dale said the ABF is committed to whole of government priorities in combatting money laundering activities that are facilitated through, and impact the integrity of, Australia’s border. “This taskforce allows the ABF to maintain a contemporary operational presence in the area of serious organised crime where there is an identified border nexus,” Assistant Commissioner Dale said.

 “Multi-agency activities like AVARUS provide an important opportunity for law enforcement partners to leverage the ABF’s substantial capabilities. “And so while the ABF will continue to fiercely protect the integrity of Australia’s border, Taskforce AVARUS will only serve to further enhance our capability to target activities driven by criminal syndicates,” she said.

Anyone with information about suspicious border activity or border-related crime the community can report it anytime through Border Watch at borderwatch.gov.au. Information can be provided anonymously.

ACIC Executive Director Intelligence Operations Jennifer Hurst said that the ACIC is committed to supporting its partners deliver on their functions as they relate to money laundering which is a key enabler for transnational serious organised crime.

“The vast majority of organised crime is motivated by profit. The ACIC is committed to working collaboratively with our partners to develop intelligence on money laundering to better inform operational responses and insights.”



With the support of Eurojust and Europol, judicial and law enforcement authorities in the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Slovakia have taken down an organised crime group (OCG) responsible for the production and distribution of at least 4.7 tonnes of methamphetamine in Europe. During a joint action, 16 suspects were arrested and over 3.3 million tablets containing raw material for the production of the drug were seized.

According to the investigation, the perpetrators used a Romanian company to purchase the precursors (raw materials) and incorporate them into two pharmaceutical products, 50 and 120 milligram tablets of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine. They used a formula that allowed them to quickly extract these precursors afterwards for the production of methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories. One of the suspects was partner and director of this company.

The tablets produced in Romania were shipped to companies in several European countries that purchased them without having a marketing authorisation in those countries. The tablets did not reach their declared destination, but were sent to various locations in Poland. From there, the shipments were split into smaller quantities and delivered to the Czech Republic and Slovakia, where they were distributed to clandestine laboratories. 

Using the 'Czech method' of producing methamphetamine in clandestine laboratories, approximately 0.70 kg of methamphetamine was obtained from one kilogram of ephedrine/pseudoephedrine hydrochloride.

Between January 2021 and February 2023, the members of the criminal group allegedly organised the transport and delivery of 168 788 870 tablets containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine (approximately 6.7 tonnes of ephedrine hydrochloride), from which a total quantity of at least 4.7 tonnes of methamphetamine could be produced.

During joint action days from 26 February until 2 March, 16 suspects were arrested in the four countries involved. 

In Poland, 3 184 500 pills containing ephedrine for a value of approximately EUR 840 000 (PLN 4 012 470) and 121 776 pills containing pseudoephedrine were seized. Additionally, PLN 366 200, EUR 177 215, USD 260 and CZK 1 400 were also seized.

A total of EUR 148 163, CZK 711 082 and PLN 22 433 were seized from bank accounts in the Czech Republic. Cash was also found and seized during the searches.

In Slovakia, EUR 1 129 220 was seized.

A joint investigation team (JIT) among involved countries was set up in November 2022 with the support of Eurojust. The Agency also hosted three coordination meetings to facilitate judicial cooperation and provide support for the coordinated investigative efforts.

Europol has been supporting the investigation since August 2022 by facilitating the information exchange, cross-checking operational information against its databases and providing analytical support. A Europol mobile office was also deployed to Slovakia on the day of action to assist the national authorities with their investigative measures.  

The following authorities took part in this investigation:

-Czech Republic: Regional Public Prosecutor´s Office in Ostrava, Czech Police, National Anti Drug Unit 

-Poland: The National Prosecutor´s Office Department for Organized Crime and Corruption in Katowice and Wroclaw, Police Central Bureau of Investigation in Katowice and Wroclaw and Polish Border Guard in Nowy Sacz

-Romania: Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice – Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism – Central Structure – Department for Combatting Drug Trafficking; Romanian National Police Directorate for Countering Organised Crime – Central Antidrug Service, and the Directorate for Special Operations

-Slovakia: Regional Public Prosecutor´s Office in Žilina, Presidium of the Police Force National Crime Agency Drug Headquarters



Europol supports Germany and the US in taking down the infrastructure of ChipMixer: as much as EUR 40 million seized

German and US authorities, supported by Europol, have targeted ChipMixer, a cryptocurrency mixer well-known in the cybercriminal underworld. The investigation was also supported by Belgium, Poland and Switzerland. On 15 March, national authorities took down the infrastructure of the platform for its alleged involvement in money laundering activities and seized four servers, about 1909.4 Bitcoins in 55 transactions (approx. EUR 44.2 million) and 7 TB of data.

ChipMixer, an unlicensed cryptocurrency mixer set up in mid-2017, was specialised in mixing or cutting trails related to virtual currency assets. The ChipMixer software blocked the blockchain trail of the funds, making it attractive for cybercriminals looking to launder illegal proceeds from criminal activities such as drug trafficking, weapons trafficking, ransomware attacks, and payment card fraud. Deposited funds would be turned into “chips” (small tokens with equivalent value), which were then mixed together - thereby anonymising all trails to where the initial funds originated. 

A service available both on the clear and on the darkweb, ChipMixer offered full anonymity to their clients. This type of service is often used before criminals’ laundered crypto assets are redirected to cryptocurrency exchanges, some of which are also in the service of organised crime. At the end of the process, the ‘cleaned’ crypto can easily be exchanged into other cryptocurrencies or directly into FIAT currency though ATM or bank accounts. 

EUR 2.73 billion in crypto assets laundered with “chips”

The investigation into the criminal service suggests that the platform may have facilitated the laundering of 152 000 Bitcoins (worth roughly EUR 2.73 billion in current estimations) in crypto assets. A large share of this is connected to darkweb markets, ransomware groups, illicit goods trafficking, procurement of child sexual exploitation material, and stolen crypto assets. Information obtained after the takedown of the Hydra Market darkweb platform uncovered transactions in the equivalent of millions of euros. 

Ransomware actors such as Zeppelin, SunCrypt, Mamba, Dharma or Lockbit have also used this service to launder ransom payments they have received. Authorities are also investigating the possibility that some of the crypto assets stolen after the bankruptcy of a large crypto exchange in 2022 were laundered via ChipMixer. 

Europol facilitated the information exchange between national authorities and supported the coordination of the operation. Europol also provided analytical support linking available data to various criminal cases within and outside the EU, and supported the investigation through operational analysis, crypto tracing, and forensic analysis. The Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce (J-CAT) at Europol also supported the operation. This standing operational team consists of cybercrime liaison officers from different countries who work on high-profile cybercrime investigations.

National authorities involved:

-Belgium: Federal police (Police Fédérale/Federale Politie)

-Germany: Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) and General Prosecutors Office Frankfurt-Main (Generalstaatsanwaltschaft Frankfurt/Main, Zentralstelle zur Bekämpfung der Internetkriminalität)

-Poland: Central Cybercrime Bureau (Centralne Biuro Zwalczania Cyberprzestępczości)

-Switzerland: Cantonal Police of Zurich (Kantonspolizei Zürich)

-USA – Federal Bureau of Investigation, Homeland Security Investigation, Department of Justice



In partnership between MENAFATF and the FATF Training Institute, a FATF Standards Training Course was delivered during the period of two weeks of intensive tuition (5-16 March 2023) to MENAFATF member countries. The Standards Training Course aimed at enhancing participants’ understanding of the FATF Standards on AML/CFT/CPF and assisting experts and practitioners in the implementation of effective measures to combat ML/TF, and improving their countries’ AML/CFT measures.