E.g., 08/17/2022
E.g., 08/17/2022
03/30/2022

Muscat: An agreement was signed between the National Centre for Financial Information and Oman Credit and Financial Information Centre (Mala'a) to exchange information in the field of combating money laundering and terrorism financing. 

"The National Centre for Financial Information and Oman Credit and Financial Information Centre (Mala'a) signed today a cooperation program for exchanging information in the field of combating money laundering and terrorism financing," The Royal Oman Police (ROP), said in a statement.

The program aims to enhance aspects of joint cooperation and coordination of efforts between the two centres through exchanging information and experiences, adopting international best practices to prevent and combat crimes related to money laundering and terrorism financing, in addition to holding and organising training programs and specialised workshops.

 The cooperation program was signed by Lieutenant Colonel Abdul Rahman bin Amer Al Kiyumi, CEO of the National centre for Financial Information, and Bassam Al Jamali, General Manager to Oman Credit and Financial Information centre.

https://timesofoman.com

03/29/2022

Muscat: The Capital Market Authority (CMA) organised a workshop titled 'Highlights on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing Terrorism' for insurance brokers targeting the employees acting as compliance officers of insurance brokers.

The workshop acquainted the participants with the applications related to insurance brokers and the role of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as well as the decisions of the CMA on the implementation of the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing Terrorism Law.

The workshop discussed the level of risks focusing on the risks of life insurance and the due diligence measures beside keeping records of information, immediate reporting and provision of information, risk assessment report and implementation of anti-money laundering and combating financing terrorism policies, directives and procedures.

The workshop was held in continuation of the endeavors to enhance the anti-money laundering and combating financing terrorism efforts in the sectors regulated by the CMA and as part of the companies’ attentiveness to the importance of training the employees on this matter.

It is worth note the workshop is part of a series of programmes and workshops related to anti-money laundering and combating financing terrorism within the plan of the Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing Terrorism Department this year to complete the awareness campaigns of last year as a set of workshops were executed beside many awareness events.

https://timesofoman.com

03/28/2022

Abu Dhabi, UAE – Some 20 border control and immigration officers from Abu Dhabi have been trained in the latest security document examination techniques to help enhance border security checks.

Instructors from INTERPOL’s Counterfeit Currency and Security Documents (CCSD) unit and its partner IDNow delivered the three-day (21 - 23 March) course hosted by the Ministry of Interior.

Participants were trained on the latest security features embedded in official government identity documents and provided practical exercises for identifying fraudulent documents including counterfeits, forgeries, and fraudulently-obtained documents.

“As the largest international law enforcement agency INTERPOL plays a critical role in supporting member states in combatting transnational crime. Security documents are increasingly being counterfeited or tampered with by criminals to facilitate transnational crime. This training programme will play an important role in improving capabilities for examining security documents and apprehending criminals,” said Lt. Col. Hamdan Al Yammahi, Deputy Director General, International Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Interior, Abu Dhabi.

IDNow Director of Document Management and Fraud Lovro Persen said: “As a specialist on detecting identity fraud, IDnow is very pleased to collaborate with INTERPOL and share its expertise in using artificial intelligence and machine learning to improve the detection of fake documents through training. Cooperation will help collective efforts to better fight identity fraud in a connected world. We can learn from each other and become more efficient and innovative.”

The use of INTERPOL global policing capabilities was also high on the training agenda, including its Stolen and Lost Travel Documents database, which holds more than 100 million records on a range of documents such as passports, identity cards, and visa stamps.

CCSD Coordinator Daniela Djidrovska said: “Training provides a vital opportunity to review best practices in the face of the continuous evolution of ID document fraud. This first joint INTERPOL-IDNow security document examination training focused on detecting various types of document fraud and will enhance the ability of border officers to recognize counterfeit security and travel documents.”

The three-day training also featured a number of incident case studies as well as country-specific presentations.

https://www.interpol.int

03/24/2022

FATF March 22, 2022

ML-TF Risks Arising from Migrant Smuggling

Migrant smuggling is a global issue. Every year, millions of migrants seek to escape regional conflict, political instability, persecution and poverty in search of a better future. They can risk their lives at the hands of migrant smugglers who see them as an opportunity to make financial gains and often have little regard for the migrants’ safety. The proceeds generated by migrant smuggling are estimated to exceed USD10 billion per year.

The FATF issued a report that analyses the money laundering and terrorist financing risks associated with migrant smuggling. While there has been an increase in migrant smuggling, many countries do not consider it a high-risk crime for money laundering and the associated financial flows are rarely investigated. 

The report identifies the most common methods to transfer and launder the proceeds of migrant smuggling, from hawala, integration of proceeds into legitimate business such as shops, travel agencies and transport companies, and the increasing use of professional money launderers. Using countries’ experiences, the report provides several recommendations and good practices that allow authorities to better trace criminal proceeds and enhance the effectiveness of money laundering investigations.

The report highlights the need for countries to understand the money laundering risks they face from migrant smuggling and to proactively follow the money linked to this criminal activity, including through increased collaboration with national and international authorities and the private sector.

The FATF calls on countries to proactively follow the money linked to migrant smuggling. Strengthening institutional, international and regional cooperation is an important step. There should be particular focus on supporting countries directly affected by migrant smuggling.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org

03/23/2022

Anti-corruption agencies from across eastern Africa have expressed their commitment to intensify the fight against corruption in the region.

The agencies from Kenya, Burundi, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda underscored the need to deepen the fight to end corruption post the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are meeting in Kenya's capital Nairobi for the annual general meetings of the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities and the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Eastern Africa, which will conclude on Friday.

Kenya's Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission said the meetings are a testimony to Kenya's commitment as well as the resolve of other member states to fight and stop corruption in the region.

Martha Koome, Kenya's chief justice, urged the agencies to strengthen their institutional capacity to fight corruption. "Corruption and institutional weaknesses are linked together," she said.

Koome said Kenya's judiciary has pledged to do its utmost to combat corruption, noting that judicial corruption allows impunity to reign and undermines the rule of law.

"One of our key goals is to allow people to be actively involved in access to justice. Corruption is a major player in frustrating access to justice. It allows justice 'for a few at the expense of justice for all'. This, in my books, is untenable," she said.

Koome also said a truly accessible judiciary is one that deals with corruption effectively, a move she said not only meets the needs of the public, but also inspires confidence.

"The Judiciary will continue to work with all partners to identify, expose and stem out culprits and cartels, acknowledging the grave danger that we all face if this vice permeates and corrodes the justice system," she said.

Munira Bablo, acting general secretary of the East African Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, said the establishment of the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Eastern Africa has greatly supported the tracing and recovery of assets within and outside the region.

Transborder investigations

Twalib Mbarak, chief executive officer of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission in Kenya, said the interagency network has enabled the commission to access critical information from foreign jurisdictions during transborder investigations.

"There is a major case that a ruling came out two months ago, where the Kenyan court convicted and sentenced a suspect to serve 67 years in prison or pay a fine of $20 million in a matter whose investigation was facilitated through regional collaboration," Mbarak said.

"This is a good example of potential and future gains in asset recovery within the region." In many parts of East Africa, bribery continues to impede access to basic services.

https://global.chinadaily.com.cn

03/22/2022

BUENOS AIRES:  An operation coordinated by INTERPOL has led to the capture of nine of Latin America’s most wanted fugitives and positively located several more.

Under the banner of the European Union-funded ‘INTERPOL Support to EL PAcCTO’ project, the four-day operation (1-4 March) brought together investigators from across Latin America and four European countries specialized in tracking down fugitives.

In a command centre established within INTERPOL’s Regional Bureau in Buenos Aires, Argentina, INTERPOL coordinated intensive working meetings between the investigators aimed at locating and arresting a maximum number of fugitives on a list of priority targets established by the global police organization’s Fugitive Investigative Support (FIS) unit.

The operational model effectively pushes international police cooperation into ‘hyper drive’, allowing investigators to exchange actionable information in real-time.

Wanted for a variety of serious crimes, including drug trafficking, money laundering and heading organized crime groups, all fugitives were subject to INTERPOL Red Notices, a request to law enforcement worldwide to locate and provisionally arrest a wanted person.

For the first time, investigators from France, Italy, Portugal and Spain also joined the EL PAcCTO operation. Two of the nine arrests took place in France while two other fugitives were successfully apprehended in Portugal and Spain respectively.

“Each of these arrests is a success for our member countries. They not only tangibly make the world a safer place but demonstrate what can be achieved through robust international police cooperation,” said Stephen Kavanagh, INTERPOL’s Executive Director of Police Services.

“With operations like EL PAcCTO, INTERPOL aims to cast a police net so wide that no fugitive will be able to escape justice forever,” Mr Kavanagh added.

Drug trafficking, fraud, extortion

The flurry of arrests included the following cases:

-A French national was arrested by Argentina’s Federal Police in Buenos Aires, wanted by his home country on charges of money laundering, drug trafficking and links to organized crime.

-A Peruvian national was arrested in France, accused of recruiting and coordinating drug couriers to transfer cocaine abroad. While the individual’s movements initially suggested he could be located in Spain, investigators found that he had renewed his passport at the Peruvian consulate in Paris. Within two days, French officers from the Brigade Nationale de Recherche des Fugitifs participating in the EL PAcCTO operation had identified the fugitive’s house and arrested him. He is now awaiting extradition to Peru.

-A Venezuelan national was arrested in Spain, wanted by Argentina on charges of membership of a transnational criminal organization committing cyber-enabled property crimes, fraud and extortion. The Argentine authorities’ last record of the fugitive was that she had travelled to Europe and checks by Spanish investigators during the EL PAcCTO operation identified a potential location in a residential area near Madrid. Spain’s Drug and Organized Crime unit (Unidad de Droga y Crimen Organizado) opened an investigation, asking around in the area, and soon established that the fugitive had since left. With no registered vehicles or property, the Spanish authorities managed to locate the individual through surveillance efforts in collaboration with transport authorities.

-Two Ecuadoran nationals were arrested in Colombia, charged with operating an organized crime group. The police action was coordinated by Colombia’s National Police in the department of Putumayo, on the border between the two countries.

Law enforcement from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Italy, Panama, Peru, Portugal and Spain took part in the EL PAcCTO operation.

EL PAcCTO is a European Union-funded cooperation programme that seeks to strengthen capacities and facilitate international cooperation. Its partnership with INTERPOL aims to create and develop a permanent mechanism for fugitive investigations across Latin America.

First launched in 2018, INTERPOL-coordinated EL PAcCTO operations have so far led to the arrest or positive location of 121 fugitives across three continents.

https://www.interpol.int

03/21/2022

Argentina's money-laundering regulator is working to add service providers in the cryptocurrency ecosystem to its list of entities subject to reporting and recording customer transactions.

 

Argentina's money-laundering regulator, known as the UIF (Unidad de Información Financiera), is working to add service providers in the cryptocurrency ecosystem to its list of entities subject to reporting and recording customer transactions, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

 

The plan is to publish the new regulation in 2022.

 

Crypto firms will have to implement know-your-customer procedures and report suspicious transactions with digital assets.

 

In Argentina, the only regulation affecting digital service providers with virtual assets is a 2019 tax rule, which calls for compliance with tax reporting rules.

 

https://www.batimes.com.ar

03/18/2022

Nigeria, March 16, 2022 - The bill makes it mandatory for banks and other financial institutions to report any single transaction or lodgment in excess of N5 million for an individual, and N10 million in the case of a corporate body.

The Senate has passed a bill that seeks to amend the Money Laundering Act 2011.

The proposed amendment in the bill makes it mandatory for banks and other financial institutions to report any single transaction or lodgment in excess of N5 million for an individual, and N10 million in the case of a corporate body. This report will be done in writing and sent to a proposed Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering – to be domiciled under the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The bill tagged “Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition) (Enactment) Act 2022” is sponsored by Abdu Kwari (APC, Kaduna). The passage of the bill was sequel to the consideration of a report of the Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes.

Prior to Wednesday’s passage of the bill, the sponsor, had said it would help in the fight against corruption, money laundering and terrorism especially since the extant Money Laundering Act could not meet the required international standard. He has said a high level of corruption and financial crimes exist in the country due to identifiable lacunas in the Act.

Some key provisions:

Section 11(3) provides that any financial institution or designated non-financial business and profession that to submit a report of required transactions commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than N250,000 and not more than N1 million for each day the contravention continues.

The bill in Section 12 also prohibits the opening of numbered or anonymous accounts in fictitious names and shell banks. It provides that any person or financial institution that contravenes the provisions of Section 12 subsections (1), (2) and (3) commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment of not less than 2 years and not more than 5 years in the case of an individual; and a fine of not less than N10 million but not more than N50 million for a Financial Institution, in addition to the prosecution of the principal officers of the body, and winding up and prohibition of its constitution or incorporation.

And Section 13 of the legislation further mandates financial institutions and designated non-financial businesses and professions to identify and asses the money laundering and terrorism financing risks that may arise in relation to the development of new products and new business practices.

Consideration, passage

Mr Kwari, who is also the chairman of the committee, told the Senate that the bill seeks to repeal the institutional and legal framework on money laundering prohibition in Nigeria.

While presenting the report, he said the proposed amendment to the Money Laundering Act, would “provide for effective and comprehensive legal framework to re-invigorate the fight against money laundering in the country by leaning more on prevention as a useful tool to strengthen the existing legal regime in combating money laundering and other related crimes in the country.”

The bill, he explained, provides appropriate penalties and expands the scope of supervisory bodies to effectively address the challenges faced in the implementation of anti-money laundering laws in Nigeria.

“…It would provide protection for employees of various anti-graft institutions, and see to the establishment of the Special Control Unit Against Money Laundering under the EFCC. The unit when established, would be charged with the effective implementation of the money laundering laws in relation to designated non-financial businesses and/or professions in Nigeria.

“The enactment of this bill will resolve the institutional issues regarding the establishment of the Special Control Unit against Money Laundering under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, being implemented by the EFCC. “The bill seeks to introduce a certain supervisory and enforcement mechanism, through the imposition of administrative penalties for breach of any requirement imposed by law,” he said.

The Senate passed the bill after consideration by the Committee of the Whole.

https://www.premiumtimesng.com

03/17/2022

The centre will focus on complex money laundering schemes and the use of virtual assets to follow the financial trails of organized crime.

LYON, France – The world police body has launched the INTERPOL Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC) to provide a coordinated global response against the exponential growth in transnational financial crime.

Fueled by ever-increasing globalization and digitalization, criminals are able to commit financial crime with increasing efficiency and sophistication, undermining global financial systems, impeding economic growth and causing huge losses to businesses and individuals worldwide.

A 2020 survey by consulting firm PwC of businesses in 99 territories showed that nearly half of all respondents had reportedly fallen victim to financial crime in the previous two years, with losses totaling USD 42 billion. In terms of volume, fraud is now the most prevalent form of criminality in some countries.  

Corruption likewise adds to the complexity of the crime landscape, creating a fertile ground for organized criminal activities. The two crime types are inextricably linked, with both often relying on similar mechanisms to move and launder illicit funds, increasingly involving transnational organized crime groups.

According to a recent INTERPOL assessment, member countries reported that financial crime and corruption were among the top three threats they currently face.

Centralizing the international response

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the speed with which criminal groups can modify their methods to take advantage of new opportunities for defrauding individuals and companies, with millions of dollars stolen every day,” said INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.

“INTERPOL’s new crime centre will expand and streamline the world police body’s existing initiatives in tackling financial crimes, illicit money flows and asset recovery by centralizing the international response to transnational financial crime and corruption,” added Secretary General Stock.

Adopting a multi-agency approach, IFCACC will work closely with key stakeholders to strengthen collective efforts against financial crime and corruption.

These include the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs), the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, law enforcement agencies, police organizations and the financial sector.

Action on the ground

By providing investigative, operational and analytical support, as well as capacity building, IFCACC will target fraud and payment crime, money laundering and asset recovery, and corruption.

The new centre will coordinate the Organization’s HAECHI operations, which target cyber-enabled financial crime. The previous two HAECHI operations brought together law enforcement in 20 countries, resulting in thousands of arrests and intercepting more than USD 100 million in illicit funds.

Operation HAECHI-II saw INTERPOL officials pilot test a new global stop-payment mechanism, known as the Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol (ARRP). This enables more member countries to submit and handle requests to follow, intercept or provisionally freeze illegal proceeds of crime. It is estimated that less than 1 per cent of criminal funds flowing through the international financial system are currently intercepted by law enforcement.  

The centre will also coordinate operations and capacity building activities targeting telecom fraud and other types of social engineering scams, money laundering and corruption in sport. IFCACC will also lend its expertise to other INTERPOL projects covering crime areas with a corruption or financial crime component, such as human trafficking or environmental crime.

As the illegitimate use of virtual assets, particularly cryptocurrencies, has matured significantly in recent years and is now a widespread method to facilitate crime, IFCACC will also lead the Organization’s efforts providing operational support against money laundering associated with virtual assets.

“Whether it’s corruption or financial crime, the criminal business model remains the same: bad actors, motivated by money and operating on a global level,” said Rory Corcoran, Acting Director of IFCACC.

“Now, with this dedicated centre, we will be able to help police follow that money better than ever before, intercepting illicit funds before they disappear and arresting perpetrators, whether they’re hiding behind a screen or a public office.”

https://www.interpol.int

03/16/2022

National News Agency NNA - Tuesday 01 Mar 2022 - 01:58

Lebanon - President of the Republic, General Michel Aoun, informed the US Treasury delegation, that “Lebanon continues to combat corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing operations”.

The President also asserted that Lebanese laws are applied firmly and accurately in this field, and international financial institutions testify to that.

In addition, President Aoun indicated that “Lebanon actively participates in international efforts to combat money laundering, and plays its role in the Financial Action Group for this purpose in the Middle East region. For this purpose, it established the National Coordination Committee for Combating the Financing of Terrorism and the National Anti-Corruption Commission”.

Stances of President Aoun came while meeting a US Treasury delegation, today at the Presidential Palace.

The delegation included: First Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury responsible for combating the financing of terrorism and financial crimes, Mr. Paul Ahren, and the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, Mr. Eric Meyer. US Ambassador to Lebanon, Mrs. Dorothy Shea also attended the meeting.

The President pointed out to members of the US delegation that the most prominent titles of his presidential term was the fight against corruption, and that this process will continue unabated in the remainder of this term.

Moreover, the President confirmed that the “Capital Control bill is present in the Parliament, and it was one of the most prominent points mentioned in the decree calling for the Parliament to hold an exceptional contract so that it can study and complete it before the end of their current mandate next May”.

On the other hand, President Aoun thanked the delegation for the support provided by the United States of America to Lebanon in the face of the difficult conditions it is going through, especially support for the army and military forces, as well as humanitarian, development, health and educational assistance.

The American delegation had presented the objectives of their visit to Beirut, focusing on cooperation with the Lebanese government in following up the banking situation in the country, especially issues related to money laundering, combating corruption, on-going negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, and the status of the Lebanese banking sector.

https://www.nna-leb.gov.lb

03/15/2022

STRASBOURG 3 MARCH 2022

Over the last two weeks (14-24 February 2022), MONEYVAL delegations participated in the tenth virtual course focused on anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing and counter-proliferation financing techniques. The training course was jointly delivered by training specialists from the FATF Training Institute in Busan, Republic of Korea and experts from FATF’s partner MONEYVAL.

The Standards Training Course aimed at enhancing participants’ understanding of the FATF Standards on AML/CFT and the implementation of effective measures to combat ML/TF.

It was an intermediate level training, designed for AML/CFT practitioners with prior exposure to the FATF Standards, and was delivered through a series of e-learning, presentations, group discussions and small group activities. In addition, this course is also designed for practitioners looking to improve their countries’ AML/CFT measures.

The MONEYVAL Secretariat expresses its gratitude to the FATF Training Institute for hosting this outstanding training and for assisting MONEYVAL delegations in enhancing their acknowledge of the FATF Standards.

https://www.coe.int

03/14/2022

Seized pieces include archaeological objects, furniture, coins, paintings, musical instruments and statuettes

LYON, France – A global operation targeting illicit trafficking in cultural goods has led to 52 arrests and the seizure of 9,408 cultural artefacts across the world. These priceless items include archaeological objects, furniture, coins, paintings, musical instruments and statuettes.

Operation Pandora VI, the operational phase of which ran from 1 June to 30 September 2021, saw law enforcement authorities in 28 countries carry out checks and controls in airports and at border crossing points, as well as in auction houses, museums and private homes.

Special focus was placed on the monitoring of online markets. To that end, a cyber patrol week was organized by the National Police Force of the Netherlands (Politie) to identify suspicious sales online.

Over 170 investigations are still ongoing, as a result of which more seizures and arrests are anticipated as investigators around the globe continue their pursuit of those spoiling and destroying cultural heritage.

Led by Spain (Guardia Civil), Pandora VI was coordinated at the international level by Europol, INTERPOL and the World Customs Organization (WCO). Operational Coordination Units working 24/7 were established by Europol on one side, and the WCO and INTERPOL on the other, to support the exchange of information as well as to disseminate alerts, warnings and perform cross-checks in different international and national databases.

Operational highlights

French Customs (Douane) seized 4,231 archaeological objects which included approximately 3,000 coins, as well as bells, buckles, rings and pieces of pottery which were looted from archaeological sites by a single individual using a metal detector. In a separate case, French Customs also seized three ancient statuettes dating back to the La Tolita – Tumaco pre-Columbian culture.

The Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional) recovered a treasure consisting of 91 gold coins from the Roman Empire worth an estimated half a million euros on the black market. The investigation began after these coins were detected in a well-known auction house in Madrid. The investigators later identified the Spanish archaeological site from which these coins were looted.

Officers from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seized a shipment containing 13 pieces of ancient Mexican artefacts from the Post-Classic to the Aztec era, including one skull and 12 adzes (chopping tools).

A processional cross dating from the 13th century was recovered by Romanian Police (Poliția Română) and returned to the Evangelical Church Museum of Cisnadie, from where it was stolen in 2016. The object had been recorded in INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art Database and was identified via INTERPOL’s ID-Art mobile app.

Italy’s Carabinieri Corps (Arma dei Carabinieri) seized 79 archaeological goods of different types and age in the Mediterranean region. These goods were lacking documentation certifying their lawful origin or import into the national territory.

The Art and Antiques Crime Unit (National Police Force of the Netherlands) recovered two Kees Verweij paintings which had been reported as stolen, following checks of an online sales catalogue involving an Amsterdam auction house.

Officers from the Hellenic Police (Ελληνική Αστυνομία) recovered a marble column dating back from the Roman period, alongside 13 ancient coins and 3 pottery vessels dating back from the Hellenistic period.

Metal detectors remain a hot commodity amongst looters, with seven European law enforcement authorities reporting the seizure of 90 metal detectors destined for illicit use at archaeological sites.

International coordination

Europol, as co-leader of this action, played a key role in implementing the entire operation by facilitating information exchange and providing analytical and operational support. The WCO provided its CENcomm secure communication channel and facilitated intelligence exchange among different agencies.

INTERPOL, through its I-24/7 secure communication system, connected countries in the Balkans and European Union participating in the exchange of information, supporting the entire operation with a dedicated expert to double check searches against INTERPOL’s Stolen Works of Art Database in order to locate and identify items that had been stolen and items that were still missing.

Operation Pandora, which was first launched in 2016, is an annual law enforcement operation. To date, it has netted 407 arrests and resulted in the recovery of 147,050 cultural goods.

Pandora VI participants:

INTERPOL Member countries: Albania, Austria, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Portugal, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States.
Third party: Kosovo.

https://www.interpol.int

03/11/2022

President Joe Biden has signed an executive order on government oversight of cryptocurrency that urges the Federal Reserve to explore whether the central bank should create its own digital currency

WASHINGTON -- President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order on government oversight of cryptocurrency that urges the Federal Reserve to explore whether the central bank should jump in and create its own digital currency.

The Biden administration views the explosive popularity of cryptocurrency as an opportunity to examine the risks and benefits of digital assets, said a senior administration official who previewed the order Tuesday on the condition of anonymity, terms set by the White House.

Under the executive order, Biden also has directed the Treasury Department and other federal agencies to study the impact of cryptocurrency on financial stability and national security.

Brian Deese and Jake Sullivan, Biden's top economic and national security advisers, respectively, said the order establishes the first comprehensive federal digital assets strategy for the United States.

"That will help position the U.S. to keep playing a leading role in the innovation and governance of the digital assets ecosystem at home and abroad, in a way that protects consumers, is consistent with our democratic values and advances U.S. global competitiveness," Deese and Sullivan said Wednesday in a joint statement.

Last week, Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Mark Warner, and Jack Reed asked the Treasury Department to provide information on how it intends to inhibit cryptocurrency use for sanctions evasion.

Daleep Singh, a deputy national security and economic adviser to Biden, told CNN on Wednesday that “crypto’s really not a workaround for our sanctions.”

The executive order had been widely anticipated by the finance industry, crypto traders, speculators and lawmakers who have compared the cryptocurrency market to the Wild West.

Despite the risks, the government said, surveys show that roughly 16% of adult Americans — or 40 million people — have invested in cryptocurrencies. And 43% of men age 18-29 have put their money into cryptocurrency. Coinbase Global Inc., the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States, said the company had not seen a recent surge in sanctions evasion activity.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said last week that “many participants in the cryptocurrency networks are subjected to anti-money laundering sanctions” and that the industry is not "completely one where things can be evaded.”

As for the Federal Reserve getting involved with digital assets, the central bank issued a paper in January that said a digital currency “would best serve the needs” of the country through a model in which banks or payment firms create accounts or digital wallets.

Some participants in digital currency welcome the idea of more government involvement with crypto. Adam Zarazinski, CEO of Inca Digital, a crypto data company that does work for several federal agencies, said the order presents the opportunity to provide “new approaches to finance.”

“The U.S. has an interest in growing financial innovation," Zarazinksi said. He added that China and Russia were looking at crypto and building their own currency. More than 100 countries have begun or are piloting their own digital sovereign currency, according to the White House.

Katherine Dowling, general counsel for Bitwise Asset Management, a cryptocurrency asset management firm, said an executive order that provides more legal clarity on government oversight would be “a long term positive for crypto.”

But Hilary Allen, a financial regulation professor at American University, cautioned against moving too fast to embrace cryptocurrencies.

“I think crypto is a place where we should be putting the brakes on this innovation until it’s better understood,” she said. “As crypto becomes more integrated into our financial system it creates vulnerabilities not just to those who are investing in crypto but for everybody who participates in our economy.”

On Tuesday, the Treasury Department said its financial literacy arm would work to develop consumer-friendly materials to help people "make informed choices about digital assets.”

“History has shown that, without adequate safeguards, forms of private money have the potential to pose risks to consumers and the financial system,” said Nellie Liang, undersecretary for domestic finance.

https://abcnews.go.com

03/10/2022

UAE - The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) has come a step closer to issuing the regulatory and supervisory framework related to virtual assets issued for investment purposes.

The SCA has completed its consultation with concerned authorities in the UAE to develop necessary regulatory framework to address the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing related to virtual assets and virtual asset service providers, the authority said in a statement.

The authority aims to ensure that the virtual assets sector adheres to the recommendations and requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

The Securities and Commodities Authority is the sole authority in the UAE mainland – with the exception of the financial free zones, ADGM and DIFC – for licencing, supervising, and overseeing the virtual assets activities and services issued for investment purposes as well as monitoring the compliance of the licencees by the Authority with the recommendations and requirements of FATF. Also, the SCA does not regulate virtual assets issued for payment purposes.

This is in accordance with the Federal Decree No. 20 of 2018 on Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Illegal Organisations and its amendments and implementing regulations, the state-run news agency, Wam, reported.

Exchanges licensed by the SCA and other local competent authorities in the mainland can apply for a license for virtual assets exchange, subject to approval and its compliance withall regulations and procedures issued by the authority.

The SCA has also notified that any person wishing to conduct a virtual assets services provider business in the mainland must obtain an initial approval from the authority, in accordance with the Regulations Manual of the Financial Activities (the licencing rulebook), before obtaining a commercial license from the competent authority.

The authority also notified that virtual asset service providers who have commercial licenses and are providing any virtual asset services must apply to the authority to obtain the necessary licenses to practice such activity. They also need to confirm their obligation to comply with all legislation related to anti-money laundering controls in the country regarding virtual assets.

The Securities and Commodities Authority said that it looks forward to the cooperation and participation of all entities and concerned parties in establishing the protective compliance in accordance with the legislation, aiming to enable innovation through progressive regulations based on principles of due diligence and agility; using protocols to effectively reduce financial fraud and criminal activity by powerful real-time tracking; ensuring compliance with FATF directives on combating money laundering and terrorist financing; encouraging risk mitigation through awareness and training, disclosure, management, and governance; conducting proportionate and deterrent supervision; and ensuring compliance with FATF requirements by participants.

The SCA has confirmed that breach of the aforementioned regulatory and supervisory framework shall be subject to appropriate legal and supervisory actions.

https://www.arabianbusiness.com

03/09/2022

Wildlife crime is growing up to three times the rate of the global economy

The illegal acquisition and consumption of wildlife are among the top global drivers of the decimation of some of the world’s most endangered species and a severe threat to the delicate balance between ecosystems and biodiversity.

Celebrated under the theme “Recovering key species for ecosystem restoration”, this year’s United Nations World Wildlife Day is shining a light on the status of some of the globe’s most critically endangered species.

While sometimes overlooked, law enforcement has a critical role to play in protecting endangered fauna and flora and, consequently, in safeguarding wider ecosystems and bringing about a greener future.

Wildlife and forestry crime make up the world’s fourth largest illegal trade and INTERPOL works relentlessly to enable police forces in its 195 member countries to tackle wildlife crime from all angles and across all continents.

Linked with cyber and financial crime

Borders do not restrict wildlife crime, nor lessen its consequences on climate change, biodiversity, security and public health. Endangered species, critical to the worlds ecosystem, are lucrative targets for the world’s transnational organized crime groups.

A truly global approach to tackling this threat is vital. INTERPOL’s environmental security programme helps to disrupt and dismantle the networks involved in this illegal trade by assisting enforcement authorities on all continents to enforce national and international laws and treaties effectively.

Because wildlife crime is often linked with cyber and financial crime, INTERPOL provides member countries with the tools and databases required to follow key suspects along these crime paths, from detection to investigation, arrest, prosecution and conviction.

Criminals constantly adapt their modus operandi in attempts to avoid detection. By engaging with the entire wildlife sector and supply chain to identify and catalogue wildlife crime methods – and issuing INTERPOL Purple Notices -  INTERPOL is able to help member countries stay one step ahead.

More than 3,000 offenders arrested

INTERPOL also coordinates global police operations that have brought many wildlife criminals to justice.  These operations help dismantle the networks behind environmental crime and have led to the seizure of tonnes of illicit wildlife products, including live endangered species.

Over the past decade, INTERPOL has coordinated more than 50 regional and global wildlife crime operations. The organization’s intelligence-led operations have helped identify trafficking hotspots and criminal targets, while ensuring the seizure of protected wildlife, from live big cats to reptiles to timber.

Last October, INTERPOL’s Thunder 2021 operation against wildlife and timber crime saw the disruption of wildlife crime networks and hundreds of arrests worldwide, with the involvement of customs, police and financial intelligence units, as well as wildlife and forestry agencies in 118 countries. The operation identified some 300 suspects and the seizure of:

423.31 kg and 520 pieces ivory-derived products

25 live and 85 big cat parts;

2.1 kg and 51 pieces of rhino horns and three rhino carcasses;

856 kg and 4,491 pieces of pangolin scales;

9,796 of turtles and tortoises;

5,094 birds and 171 bird-derived products;

342 live reptiles and 253 reptile-derived products;

820 live, 4,675 pieces and 5990.3 kg of marine products including totoaba, corals, eels, shark fins and sea cucumbers;

516.7 kg, 7,246 live and 1.4 million plant-derived items;

2,143 pieces, 97.4 tonnes of timber and 280 pieces, 11.7 tonnes and 313m3 of rosewood.

The operation triggered worldwide arrests and investigations linked to illegal trading, processing, exporting and importing of protected wildlife and forestry products.  Since the first edition in 2017, Thunder operations have seen some 8,000 seizures of protected wildlife and forestry species and the arrest of more than 3,000 offenders.

In the past year, other INTERPOL-coordinated operations have yielded significant arrests and seizures of endangered species, including notably Operation Golden Strike, which triggered worldwide arrests and further investigations linked to wildlife trafficking.

https://www.interpol.int

03/08/2022

ABU DHABI - The Executive Office to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing has said that the total value of anti-money laundering and terrorism financing penalties collected in 2021 amounted to nearly US$1.048 billion (AED3.848 billion).

This amount comprised asset seizures worth $625 million (AED2.3 billion), fines for non-compliance to anti-money laundering and terrorism financing regulations worth $64 million (AED235 million), penalties on major financial institutions in the UAE worth $5.3 million (AED19.5 million), tax evasion and money laundering fines on individuals worth $10.8 million (AED39.6 million), confiscations valued at $109 million (AED400 million), preventive measures to address terrorist financing and collective actions amounting to $234 million (AED892.3 million) against 48 defendants and companies convicted in one case by the Abu Dhabi Courts for money laundering and fraud.

In an interview with the Emirates News Agency (WAM), Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the UAE Executive Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing, said that these figures underscore the significant progress made by the country in addressing anti-money laundering and terrorism financing, in line with international standards and its commitment to combatting financial crimes, and as part of its national priorities.

Highlighting the achievements of the Office since its establishment, he said that it had closely cooperated with its partners from the public and private sector to support the anti-money laundering and terrorism financing system.

"On the legislative front, several major legal amendments were recently adopted, including the anti-money laundering law that includes wider powers related to confiscations, as well as controlling virtual assets," Al Zaabi stated. The anti-money laundering law’s executive regulation is currently being amended, and the rules cover entities listed on United Nations (UN) Security Council lists.

In February 2021, the UAE established the Office for Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing to coordinate relevant national efforts in the areas of sectoral and objective risks, under the framework of a national risk assessment.

The Office carried out 5,529 desk inspections, including substantive reviews using a wide range of industry sector data on Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) and collected through supervisory assessments, forms and follow-up visits.

As of 2021, the number of double taxation agreements has reached some 137.

Concerning the handling of virtual assets, Al Zaabi said, "Modern financial tools and financial innovation or financial technology are among the promising sectors that are exposed to the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing. Therefore, we are working to adopt a balanced strategy to ensure the growth of these sectors, to serve the national economy while ensuring that these risks are mitigated so they cannot be sources of threat and mechanisms for money laundering and terrorist financing."

https://www.zawya.com

03/07/2022

Paris, 4 March 2022- The sixth Plenary of the FATF under the German Presidency of Dr. Marcus Pleyer concluded today.

Delegates representing the 206 members of the Global Network and observer organisations, such as the IMF, the United Nations and the World Bank, met for four days of meetings. The event took place in a hybrid form with the majority of participants able to travel to meet in person in Paris due to gradual easing of COVID-19 related restrictions in many countries.

FATF Members discussed the tragic developments and the loss of life in Ukraine and issued a statement that expresses FATF’s grave concern about the invasion’s impact on the money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing risk environment as well as the integrity of the financial system, the broader economy and safety and security.

The Plenary approved key work that will prepare for the next round of mutual evaluations and finalised an update to Recommendation 24, to improve transparency of beneficial ownership of legal persons. The FATF approved a report on the money laundering and terrorist financing risks of migrant smuggling, and agreed to release a guidance for public consultation that will help the real estate sector to implement risk-based measures to better detect and prevent money laundering.

The FATF agreed to begin work on enhancing asset recovery by strengthening collaboration between the FATF/FSRBs and the Asset Recovery Networks – CARIN and the ARINs, and also agreed to further consider strengthening Recommendations 4 and 38 on the domestic and cross-border frameworks. Delegations also started new work on the proceeds of the trafficking of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

The Plenary also agreed on the appointment of a new President of the FATF (2022-2024). 

http://www.fatf-gafi.org

03/04/2022

ABU DHABI - The Executive Office of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) has been commended as part of the International Monetary Fund’s most recent Article IV report, which highlighted the UAE’s "major efforts" to improve its AML/CTF response in line with "deficiencies identified by the Financial Action Task Force."

Additional entities commended included the AML/CTF unit in the Central Bank of the UAE and its efforts to "operationalise a new risk-based supervisory framework." 

The report, which was published on 17th February 2022, highlighted that "Directors welcomed the progress made with the AML/CFT framework and encouraged the authorities to sustain the reform momentum" while welcoming "progress to strengthen AML/CFT measures."

Commenting on the publication of the report, Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing, said, "The acknowledgement of our national efforts to improve our collective response to money laundering and terrorism financing from a respected institution such as the International Monetary Fund highlights the agility of the UAE to recognise challenges and address them in an organised and methodical manner. Through ongoing cooperation with both local and international regulators, we will continue to safeguard the country’s financial sector from illicit activity."

In addition to the high-level efforts made, the report also cited the UAE’s new legislation, which "was passed to require the submission of beneficial ownership information by all legal entities registered in the UAE."

The report also noted that the UAE had "delivered several important legislative and institutional reforms." Conducted annually, the IMF Article IV Consultations include a press release, informational annex, and staff report, which is prepared by IMF team members for the Executive Board’s consideration.

Typically, the report includes an in-depth assessment of the country’s current socioeconomic status while recognising achievements and highlighting areas of improvement.

https://www.zawya.com

03/03/2022

Nigeria’s fight against Terrorism financing would soon receive a boost following an assessment visit to the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) by a team from the UK Treasury Department.

A statement issued by CAC’s Head of Media, Mr Rasheed Mahe, on Saturday, in Abuja, gave the indication following an in-country assessment meeting held between the UK Department of Treasury (HMT) and the Commission.

According to the statement, the head of the assessment team, Allison Kelly supported by Ian Collins, said that the meeting was aimed at evaluating performance, peer review and generating inputs that would lead to greater efficiency, among others.

 Kelly revealed that the team had held similar meetings with other relevant government agencies with a view to identifying the areas for the HMT’s intervention.

At the meeting, there were separate presentations from some CAC officials, including the Director Compliance, Justin Nidia Biraol, who spoke on the “Use of Legal Persons for Terrorism Financing, The Use of Beneficial Ownership Information to aid Terrorism Financing Investigations.”

The Special Assistant to the Registrar General, Terver Ayua-Jor, also dwelled on “Identifying Beneficial Ownership of Companies Involved or Used in Terrorism Financing”. The Director of Incorporated Trustees, Olutoyin Abe, spoke on the “Registration of NGOs” and the challenges associated with post-incorporation.

While Ambrose Obeta, CAC’s Head of ICT, highlighted some challenges and rolled out areas of possible collaboration and support from the vising HMT team, that would enable the Commission to operate at par with its global peers in the area of combating terrorism financing.

In his remark, the Registrar General of the Commission, Alhaji Garba Abubakar, expressed delight over the visit which, he said, had huge potential in enhancing, among others, the Commission’s enforcement of compliance-related matters.

Represented by Mrs Ifeoma Isaac, the Director of Customer Service,  Abubakar pledged CAC’s support to realise the objective of the meeting, which was a follow up to a workshop earlier held in the UK.

He noted that the meeting was also to discuss findings and address deficiencies witnessed in Nigeria’s fight against terrorism financing and proliferation financing.

Terrorism financing is the act of providing financial support, funded from either legitimate or illegitimate sources, to terrorists or terrorist organisations to enable them carry out terrorist acts.

https://www.vanguardngr.com

03/02/2022

Paris, 28 February 2022

Under the German Presidency of Dr Marcus Pleyer, delegates representing 206 members of the Global Network and observer organisations, including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, will take part in the FATF Plenary on 1-4 March 2022.

The event will take place in a hybrid format with a significant number of participants expected in person due to the gradual easing of COVID-19 related restrictions in many countries.

During four days of meetings, delegates will discuss key issues, including revisions to the FATF Recommendations to strengthen transparency of beneficial ownership information, a priority for the FATF and the international community.

Delegates will finalise a report that focuses on the money laundering and terrorist financing risks arising from migrant smuggling. They will discuss the assessment of France’s measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, and hear the progress made by some jurisdictions identified as presenting a risk to the financial system.

The outcomes of the FATF Plenary will be published on Friday 4 March, at the close of the meeting.

https://www.fatf-gafi.org

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