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Experts gather in Seoul to address threat of IP crime
SEOUL, Republic of Korea – Illicit trade is a growing threat to society as it incurs economic, societal and security costs. From counterfeiting and smuggling to the illegal sale or possession of goods and services, governments are losing billions in tax revenues, legitimate businesses are undermined, and consumers are exposed to unregulated products.
To counter this threat, some 450 law enforcement officials as well as security and industry experts from 70 countries and nine organizations are meeting at the 15th International IP Crime Conference, both in person and online.
INTERPOL and the Korean National Police Agency (KNPA) in partnership with Underwriters Laboratories are co-hosting the three-day event (19-21 September).
Amongst key topics, participants will discuss online piracy, operational and investigative support to fight IP crime globally, money laundering, pharmaceuticals – consumer health and safety, women in IP and capacity building.
Global Threat of IP Crime
IP crime touches all industry sectors, affecting the global economy and endangering public health. According to some estimates, the global trade in illicit pharmaceuticals alone represents more than USD 4 billion a year.
"A significant challenge is too many people still think of counterfeiting and piracy as a victimless crime, but these are serious transnational organized crimes run by extensive and complex criminal enterprises." Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General
“INTERPOL is here to help law enforcement, and partners, gain the knowledge, skills and best practices needed to face these threats and disrupt the criminal groups making huge profits from a very real human cost,” Secretary General Stock added.
Coordinated action against illicit markets
Unregulated and counterfeit medicines target the most vulnerable groups in society and endanger lives. Growing consumer demand and the COVID-19 pandemic has also led to the increased sale and supply of illicit medical products from unauthorized and unregulated websites.
In this context, INTERPOL coordinates regional and global law enforcement operations to help its member countries fight against illicit markets.
For example, Operation Pangea XV in June 2022 resulted in the seizure of an estimated USD 11 million in illicit medicines. At the same time, law enforcement agencies shut down or removed more than 4,000 web links containing adverts for illicit products.
“Close collaboration is essential to help combat illicit markets and protect valuable intellectual property. The Korean National Police Agency will be at the forefront of these coordinated efforts,” said Mr. YOON Hee Keun, Commissioner General of Korean National Police Agency.
Capacity building and training strategies
In partnership with UL, INTERPOL has developed a global online training platform, the International Intellectual Property Crime Investigators College (IIPCIC), which provides opportunities for self-paced training and educational webinars.
The interactive training platform has become an important educational tool for law enforcement and rights-holders worldwide, ensuring frontline officers have access to the necessary training and information.
Operational data vital to reduce global impact of cybercrime
Buenos Aires, Argentina - The evolving digital landscape in the Americas has increased the challenges and vulnerabilities regarding cybersecurity. Countries across the region now face cybercrime attacks ranging from Business Email Compromise and online scams to ransomware and money laundering.
Financially motivated groups have not only targeted organizations across Latin America, primarily with ransomware, but they have also broadened the scope of their operations. In the first half of 2020, Latin America for example recorded the world’s highest cyber-attack rates, with nearly three times more attacks via mobile browsers than the global average.
For example, Costa Rica became the victim of large-scale ransomware attacks initiated by a group called Conti in April 2022. Starting in the Costa Rican ministry of finance, the cyber-assault ultimately involved 27 different ministries in a series of interlinked attacks. Conti’s action left parts of Costa Rica’s digital infrastructure crippled for months, while at the same time disrupting public healthcare and the pay of some public sector workers.
One of Argentina’s largest internet service providers, Telecom Argentina also suffered a major ransomware attack involving around 18,000 computers in 2020. In this incident, hackers demanded a $7.5 million ransom, while employees were prevented from accessing databases and internal VPNs.
In this context, the 7th INTERPOL Americas Working Group on Cybercrime met from 12-16 September in Buenos Aires, Argentina to assess threats and trends across the region. The meeting brought together over 90 participants from 32 member countries, 4 international organizations and 13 public and private entities.
Police cooperation key to fighting cybercrime
Amongst key priorities, the Group discussed the Global Cybercrime strategy 2022 -2025, which will be published later this year. This strategy will develop in-depth understanding of the cybercrime threat and enhance capabilities to prevent, detect, investigate and disrupt cyberattacks.
The Group also discussed the establishment of an Americas Desk for the coordination of operations against cybercrime. This is line with INTERPOL’s global strategy, with other desks previously set up in Africa and the ASEAN regions.
Other topics focused on cyber response initiatives, cryptocurrency investigation, emerging cyber threats in Americas and sharing of investigative information.
“This Working Group is a good opportunity to enhance police cooperation at international and regional level so we can combat cybercrime in a more effective way and make the world a safer place,” said Juan Carlos Hernandez, Chief of the Argentinian Federal Police.
Capacity building in the Americas
Greater reliance on new technologies has paved the way for cybercriminals, as they attack with increased frequency and efficiency. Lack of sufficient attention to security as well as computer vulnerabilities provide cybercriminals with low-risk, high-reward opportunities for illicit gain.
Faced with this growing threat, INTERPOL carried out a range of activities in Latin America to raise awareness of cybercrime and promote closer regional cooperation. Key activities included training courses on INTERPOL policing capabilities, digital forensics, open-source intelligence, cryptocurrencies and dark web investigations.
Such activities fall under the Cyber Americas Project (funded by Global Affairs Canada) and the Global Action on Cybercrime Extended (GLACY+) project, a joint initiative of the European Union and Council of Europe.
KUWAIT CITY, Sept. 19 (Xinhua) -- Kuwait hosts on Monday a regional workshop to enhance expertise and exchange information in combating terrorist financing with virtual currencies.
The two-day workshop convenes experts from the member states of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center (TFTC), a multilateral network among the United States and six Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar.
During his speech, Kuwaiti Assistant Foreign Minister for Development Affairs and International Cooperation Hamad Al-Mashaan said that the workshop will shed light on issues related to virtual currencies and the affiliate hazards they pose in financing terrorism.
"There is no doubt that the entire world suffers from terrorist threats and financing operations, which are trying to destabilize the region, damage the political and economic systems and threaten the international peace and security," he said.
He also mentioned the effective role of Kuwait in the field of combating terrorism and its financing, whether in joint international efforts or through regional meetings.
With Europol’s support, the Hungarian authorities have cracked down on fraudsters targeting public sector companies
At a press conference today, the Anti-Economic Crime Department of the Budapest Metropolitan Police Headquarters (Budapesti Rendőr-főkapitányság Gazdasági Bűnözés Elleni Főosztály) presented the results of their latest crackdown against fraudsters, carried out with the support of Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre.
These two joint actions – referred to as Operation Wine Cellar and Operation Theatre - were carried out in November of last year, the details of which can only be released now due to operational reasons. The investigators have since been working on the financial information collected during the various house searches to identify new investigative leads.
The Budapest Metropolitan Police has apprehended almost a hundred individuals after unravelling two complex fraud schemes involving invoice fraud.
The clampdown targeted an organised crime group responsible for defrauding 94 legal entities of an estimated EUR 2.8 million. These companies were mostly state and municipality-owned.
The syndicate used a sophisticated money laundering infrastructure to hamper law enforcement’s ability to trace the illegal gains.
The criminals would impersonate a service company to inform their victims that the service company now had a new bank account to which the payments for the provided services should be sent.
Once the payments were made to the bank accounts controlled by the criminals, the funds would be moved around to conceal their illegal origin.
Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre has been supporting the Hungarian investigators with these two cases since 2020, confirming the links with other European countries and identifying new leads to develop the intelligence picture on the activities carried out by these two groups.
Europol teams, composed of money laundering specialists and financial analysts, were deployed to Hungary on both action days to assist the investigators with the house searches and the forensic analysis of the seized devices.
Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU Member States in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and other serious and organised crime forms. Europol also works with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.
The British-Irish suspect is believed to have laundered more than $200m in illicit cash.
Al Jazeera news - Police have arrested “one of Europe’s biggest money launderers” after a raid in southern Spain, saying the British-Irish suspect is believed to have shifted more than 200 million euros ($200m) in illicit cash.
The operation led by Spain’s Guardia Civil and coordinated by Europol is seen as a significant blow against the notorious Kinahan organised crime group, which United States law officials have called “a threat to the entire licit economy”.
The chief suspect in the case was detained on Monday “as a result of an international law enforcement operation led by the Spanish Guardia Civil”, Europol said.
“Two of his associates were also arrested in Spain, and one in the United Kingdom,” Europol said in a statement on Thursday.
John Francis Morrissey
Europol did not name the suspect, but a source close to the investigation and Irish newspapers said he was John Francis Morrissey, 62, a known associate of the Kinahan gang.
Based out of Dubai, the Kinahan crime group – led among others by Irishman Daniel Kinahan – “smuggles deadly narcotics, including cocaine, to Europe, and is a threat to the entire licit economy through its role in international money laundering”, US Treasury Department Under Secretary Brain E Nelson said.
Morrissey peddled a brand of vodka along Spain’s tourist-heavy Costa del Sol, allegedly to disguise his white-washing activities, law officials said.
He also worked as an enforcer for the Kinahan cartel and helped with drug shipments from South America.
“[Morrissey] and his associates were in charge of collecting large amounts of cash from criminal organisations, which they would then ‘deliver’ to other criminal organisations in other countries,” said Europol.
Underground banking system
Using the so-called hawala underground banking system, which works on the basis of face-to-face transactions, “it is believed that the suspects have laundered over 200 million euros using this method”, Europol said.
Morrissey “is one of our high-value targets”, Europol spokeswoman Claire Georges told the AFP news agency.
“His arrest followed a complex investigation,” she said.
The probe was led by the Spanish Guardia Civil, who worked with the British National Crime Agency, Dutch police, the Irish Garda and Europol, which coordinated the international operation.
Earlier this year, the US Treasury Department sanctioned the Kinahan crime family, as well as Morrissey and several other alleged associates of the group.
Morrissey was “designated for materially assisting, sponsoring, or providing financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, the Kinahan group”, the US Treasury Department said in April.
Employed as a “brand ambassador” for Nero Drinks, a British-based company that makes a premium vodka, Morrissey was “heavily invested in the company”, it added.
However, Morrissey has given “a significant portion of the business to Daniel Kinahan to compensate for loads of drugs seized by law enforcement”, the US Treasury Department said.
“The main members of the organisation in Spain had created a brand of vodka promoted in nightclubs and restaurants in the Costa del Sol to disguise the source of their earnings,” said Europol.
“One of the suspects arrested ran a car dealership and was in charge of providing vehicles to the criminal organisation in which he had built concealed compartments to transport the large amounts of cash undetected,” Europol added.
Monday’s arrests indeed came after Spanish police opened a probe early last year after seizing 200kg (440lbs) of cocaine and 500,000 euros ($500,000) in cash, stashed in hidden compartments in vehicles used by the gang.
“The case was rapidly brought to Europol due to its international nature,” the agency said.
The Saudi Arabian General Prosecution has ordered the confiscation of $1.06 billion (4 billion riyals) and a 25-year jail term for a criminal gang accused of money laundering, state television reported on Monday.
The gang was comprised of one Saudi citizen and five people with other Arab nationalities, state TV said.
Those arrested were referred to the specialized court after the public prosecution accused them of money laundering an amount that exceeded 4.29 billion riyals, Saudi state-run al-Ekhbariya television said.
The foreign nationals were able to conduct illegal money transfers with the help of the Saudi citizen.
“The investigation procedures revealed that the citizen extracted commercial records for a number of entities, opened bank accounts, and handed over the entities and accounts to the residents, who in turn made huge financial operations, financial deposits and transferred them abroad,” the report said.
It added that authorities found that the source of the funds resulted from illegal violations of regulations and crimes.
A judgment was issued containing proof of the crimes committed by the gang members and it was ruled that a similar value of funds transferred abroad be confiscated. This is in addition to the confiscation of the proceeds of the crime from funds seized in bank accounts and commercial real estate.
The court also decided to impose a fine that amounted to 200 million riyals on those involved. The Saudi national was sentenced to 10 years in jail and will be prohibited from leaving the country for the same time span. The residents, according to al-Ekhbariya, were sentenced to 25 years in prison and will be prevented from entering the Kingdom again after serving time.
The 6th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies – a two-day gathering of thousands of crypto specialists and financial investigators from law enforcement, regulators and the private sector – came to an end today at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands.
As cryptocurrency use expands into practically every country and sector, so does its abuse to commit new forms of crime and launder dirty money, said speakers.
Yet with the right tools, capacity and cooperation, the unique characteristics of blockchain-based technologies offer an unprecedented opportunity to investigate organised crime and money laundering networks and to recover stolen funds.
Keeping up as crypto enters the mainstream
The speeches and panels painted a picture of how “traditional” and virtual organised crime and money laundering typologies are merging. Cryptocurrencies are increasingly involved in trade-based money laundering cases, for example, and linked to a broad range of crimes including drug smuggling, sports match fixing and proliferation financing.
Professional money launderers are taking advantage of the ever-growing options provided by crypto assets – from mining to decentralised services – to launder proceeds from both physical and cybercrimes.
But law enforcement, regulators and the private sector are working hard to stay ahead of those who abuse crypto assets to commit crimes and launder money.
-Legislation is tightening. New EU regulations, for example, will ensure that crypto assets are treated like any other assets for the purposes of anti-money laundering regulation and supervision.
-Multiple successful cases, some laid bare during the conference, illustrate how investigators are taking advantage of the unique characteristics of blockchain-based technologies to “follow the money”. This has allowed them to identify not only scammers and hackers but also more traditional organised crime groups and money laundering networks.
-Law enforcement and judicial authorities are increasingly treating virtual assets like any other asset from a legal perspective, easing their seizure, management and eventual transformation into fiat currency.
-Private companies are innovating fast to provide the tools and analytical capacity to trace funds laundered across multiple blockchains using different obfuscation techniques.
Increasing understanding and capacity in the crypto sphere among all players – regulators, law enforcement, the private sector – is vital to tackling organised crime and money laundering, both physical and virtual.
About the conference
The 6th edition of the annual Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies (#6CrC) took place in hybrid format on 1–2 September 2022. The conference was hosted by Europol with the support of the Basel Institute on Governance through the joint Working Group on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies.
With over 1,700 registered participants from 119 countries, the first day was dedicated to public-private cooperation and exchange. Speakers represented regulators (European Parliament), law enforcement (Europol), think tanks (Royal United Services Institute), virtual asset service providers (Binance), and specialised companies involved in crypto investigations, data analysis and asset recovery (Asset Reality, Chainalysis, CipherTrace, Sportradar and TRM Labs).
The second day of the conference was strictly limited to law enforcement and related public authorities, such as financial intelligence units. Specialised cryptocurrency investigators from France, Korea, Hungary, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States shared case studies and experiences with their international colleagues, which numbered more than 1,100 from 95 countries.
Experts examine mechanisms to prioritize cross-border tracing, seizure and confiscation of criminal assets
Singapore, 13 September 2022 – The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and INTERPOL have launched a joint initiative to deprive criminals of their dirty money, marking a turning point in global efforts to recover illicit assets.
While asset recovery should be a key pillar of a country’s approach to combating money laundering and terrorist financing, countries intercept and recover less than one per cent of global illicit financial flows, according to estimates by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Stolen assets are often moved out of countries quickly and channeled to or through multiple countries, rendering the process of asset recovery complex and requiring lengthy international cooperation.
The first ever FATF-INTERPOL Roundtable Engagement (FIRE) event gathered 150 high-level experts who highlighted the pressing need to:
-promote national policies and actions that prioritize the tracing, seizure and confiscation of criminal assets;
-enhance operational cooperation at the national, regional and international levels;
-increase effective information sharing among public authorities and with the private sector.
In a joint drive to reinforce and mobilise the community of global experts, the conference (held on 12 and 13 September) brought together law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence units, asset recovery offices, prosecutors, policy makers, international organizations and private sector industry leaders.
Opening the event, Mr K Shanmugam, Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, emphasised the important role that INTERPOL and the FATF play in the global fight against transnational crime, money laundering and terrorism financing. Minister Shanmugam reaffirmed Singapore’s commitment to continue contributing to the important work of the FATF and INTERPOL. He also underscored how close international collaboration and strong public-private partnerships can bring about better outcomes in asset recovery.
“Increasing the visibility and priority of asset recovery at national level sets the tone for all stakeholders, sending a clear signal that we are acting to cripple organized crime syndicates, better protect society and contribute to sustainable economic growth. By catalysing global efforts, this exciting FATF and INTERPOL initiative can make an impactful lasting change in the way we go after the proceeds of crime,” said FATF President T Raja Kumar.
INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock said: “The magnitude of illicit profits, and the velocity at which billions are moving across borders, is deeply worrying. Organized crime groups are undermining global financial systems and inflicting huge losses on businesses and individuals alike. We must do more to deliver the significant operational impact that is needed today. By ambitiously pursuing every solution, every piece of actionable data, we will bring these illicit flows out of the dark and back to the legitimate economy.”
Participants agreed that a stronger understanding of the global financial crime landscape, especially in relation to cyber-enabled financial crime, is central to efforts against illicit flows.
Delegates welcomed the initiative by FATF and INTERPOL to reinforce international law enforcement and judicial networks that work on asset recovery and the tools available, including the pilot of INTERPOL’s global stop-payment mechanism, the Anti-Money Laundering Rapid Response Protocol (ARRP). They also agreed on the need to strengthen the FATF’s Standards so that countries are better equipped to act effectively at every stage of the asset recovery process.
Through a series of plenary and workshop sessions, experts looked at the strategic and operational changes required at national and international level to ignite asset recovery and take the profit out of crime. These changes include a shift in law enforcement perspectives and culture, enhanced international networks and tools, and stronger legislation and global standards against money laundering.
Accountants are key to fighting against money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion according to IFAC
The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has published an action plan to help the accountancy profession tackle economic crime and corruption.
The Action Plan for Fighting Corruption and Economic Crime sets out more than 30 specific actions for IFAC and the accountancy profession related to education, evidence-based policy, global standards, partnership, and thought leadership.
The global accountancy profession is a “central ally” in the fight against corruption and economic crime, according to IFAC CEO Kevin Dancey.
“Corruption and related economic crimes, such as money laundering, bribery, tax evasion and fraud, are significant obstacles to economic growth and human development and, ultimately, to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals—all seventeen of them,” said Dancey.
He added that the action plan illustrates some “time tested” alongside new ways that show the global accountancy profession is central to tackling economic crime. He hopes the plan will drive positive change.
The plan has five key pillars:
-Harnessing the full potential of education and professional development
-Supporting global standards
-Contributing towards evidence-based policymaking
-Strengthening impact through engaging and public partnership; and
-Contributing expertise through thought leadership and advocacy.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) has welcomed the new action plan published by IFAC.
“We believe that accountants play a key role in the fight against economic crime, so we’re pleased to support IFAC’s anti-corruption plan which sets out specific actions for accountancy bodies to take in relation to tackling corruption and economic crime,” David Gomez, ICAEW senior lead, ethics, said.
“At ICAEW, we’re continuing to engage with government on economic crime and corporate transparency, while we’re also ensuring our members are aware of these issues as part of their CPD.”
IFAC’s plan harnesses the profession’s reach across public practice, business, and the public sector to directly contribute to the fight against corruption.
The ICAEW also believes the plan outlines indirect action, by supporting integrity and transparency in business and government, as well as effective global and domestic policymaking.
Sept 12 (Reuters) - The Australian financial crimes regulator said on Monday it opened an investigation into British sports betting giant Entain Plc (ENT.L) to assess whether it was complying with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said it began the enforcement investigation after an extensive supervisory campaign covering the whole corporate bookmaking sector, without giving further details.
"Reporting entities have a responsibility to ensure they identify, assess and manage risks of money laundering and terrorism financing, develop adequate processes and devote the necessary resources to comply with their AML/CTF obligations," AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer Nicole Rose said in a statement.
Online betting has exploded in Australia since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when physical gambling shopfronts were forced to shut in stop-start lockdowns over nearly two years.
London-listed Entain, which has about one-sixth of Australia's online betting market via the Ladbrokes brand, and larger rival Flutter Entertainment Plc , Australia's largest online betting house which has Sportsbet, reported large revenue increases in calendar 2020 and 2021.
Last month, the British gambling regulator fined Entain 17 million pounds ($19 million), its biggest fine, for what it called "completely unacceptable anti-money laundering and safer gambling failures".
Entain, which in 2021 made an approach to buy certain assets of Australia's No. 2 online betting operator Tabcorp Holdings Ltd (TAH.AX), said in a statement the company was cooperating with the investigation.
AUSTRAC had conducted a standard assessment of the company's Australian business' historical Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing policies and procedures between July 2016 and June 2020, Entain added.
The Abu Dhabi Blockchain and Virtual Assets Committee emphasised the significance of regulating blockchain and virtual asset operations to adhere to anti money laundering
AUGUST 26, 2022 - Under the chairmanship of Mohamed Ali Al Shorafa, head of the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED), the Abu Dhabi Blockchain and Virtual Assets Committee (ADBVAC) held its inaugural meeting to discuss a strategy for blockchain and virtual assets.
The committee emphasised the significance of regulating blockchain and virtual asset operations to adhere to anti money laundering/combatting the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) with international and local norms and regulations and create an environment that is safe, sound, and transparent, which would help foster confidence and draw more businesses to Abu Dhabi.
The committee was created to increase Abu Dhabi’s competitiveness in the blockchain and virtual asset space, coordinate the efforts of entities involved, communicate with regulators, and promote industry participants’ compliance with international standards and regulatory requirements, particularly AML/CFT regulations, while also fostering information sharing and best practices.
To this end, the ADBVAC is comprised of representatives of major entities and stakeholders active in this field including Dhaher bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Registration Authority, Wai Lum Kwok, senior executive director Authorisation at ADGM, Mohammed Kaissi, director of Strategic Projects at ADQ, Faisal Al Hammadi, executive director Incubation at ADQ, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi , CEO of Masdar, Dr Nikolas Meitanis , advisor at Masdar CEO Office, Ibrahim Ajami, head of Ventures and Growth at Mubadala, Abdulla Al Shamsi, director–general of Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), and Dr Maryam Buti Al Suwaidi, CEO of Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA).
Addressing the first meeting, Al Shorafa said: “The formation of Abu Dhabi’s Blockchain and Virtual Assets Committee reflects our leadership farsighted vision and approach, which enabled Abu Dhabi to nurture a supportive business environment, unparalleled connectivity and infrastructure and an entrepreneurial mindset that presents investors with growth opportunities.”
“The committee is bringing together all the relevant stakeholders to build a robust, credible, and comprehensive regulatory and business ecosystem that addresses key risks and major governance issues, such as AML/CFT, investor protection, tech governance, and custody risk, to promote blockchain and virtual assets.”
“This will allow us to capitalise on blockchain technology and virtual assets to achieve Abu Dhabi’s aspirations, and the priority areas for this will be growth clusters including agritech, fintech, healthcare and biopharma, energy, tourism, and ICT as we aim to foster businesses in these sectors to expand and accelerate”.
The unit was set up after the force's criminal asset confiscation command had seized more than $600 million from the proceeds of crime since its inception in February 2020.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) formed a unit to tackle the use of cryptocurrency as a means of money laundering and offshoring, the Australian Financial Review (AFR) reported Monday.
The unit was set up after the force's criminal asset confiscation command beat its 2024 target of seizing $600 million from the proceeds of crime by two years. The command was formed in February 2020.
Stefan Jerga, who heads the new unit, said the use of crypto in crime had increased significantly in recent years, and now required a standalone team.
“It’s targeting assets, but it’s also providing that valuable, investigative tracing capability and lens for all of our commands across all of our businesses, whether they’re national security-related, child protection, cyber – or the ability to trace cryptocurrency transactions across the relevant blockchains is really, really important," Jerga said, according to the report.
AFP Commissioner Reece Kershaw said that while the amount of cryptocurrency seized was small relative to cash and property, a focus on crypto provided benefits through great intelligence insights into the business models of organized crime.
The Department of State Services (DSS) has called for stronger synergy among law enforcement agencies in the country to tackle terrorism financing.
Abuja - The Director General of the agency, Yusuf Bichi Magaji, made the call yesterday while declaring open a workshop on Terrorism Financing Risk (TFR) for law enforcement agencies and judicial officers, organised by the Service in Abuja. Bichi, represented by the Director, Training and Staff Development, Brown Ekwoaba, Bichi, said the overwhelming response from law enforcement agencies requires that all hands must be on deck to expose the nefarious activities of perpetrators for possible prosecution.
He said beneath the expectation was a clarion call to action for improved inter-agency collaboration aimed at detecting, disrupting and preventing the abuse of the country’s financial system by terrorists and other criminal networks.
He said: “The ever changing nature and sophistication of threats make it imperative for security operatives to be critical thinkers, in order to fashion out better and efficient ways to tackle threats. Among the evolving global crimes are money laundering and terrorism financing, which require the development of a working national anti-terrorism and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime for the country. Nigeria, as a committed stakeholder, needs to contribute its quota in protecting the integrity and stability of the international financial system by terminating resources available to terrorists, as well as making it difficult for those engaged in crime not to profit from their criminal activities, as stipulated by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
“This process requires countries to identify, assess and understand prevailing financial risks, with a view to mitigating the same. A nation striving for cohesion like ours, must effectively disrupt terrorist networks through the application of anti-money laundering/countering financing terrorism measures.
“Through money laundering, criminal organisations and organised crime syndicates, benefit from their illegal activities, with some utilising cross border channels, such as drug and human trafficking, arms smuggling, among others. With criminal elements perfecting concealment of origin of illicit funds, it behooves on us, that a strengthened anti-criminal response to money laundering activities will contribute to cutting off sources of finance, as well as countering the financial incentives which drive the crime.”
He expressed the hope that the workshop would, among others, demonstrate relevant investigative techniques adopted and to be adopted by law enforcement agencies in countering terrorism financing, as well as abilities to identify links between predicate offences and illicit financial activities.
“While I concede that the task to combat illicit flow of funds may be daunting, it is, however, not insurmountable. Therefore, we must all join hands with knowledge, commitment and focus to change the tide.”
Earlier in his address, Director of Operations, DSS, Mr Joseph Nuhu Dashwep, said the Service has developed and implemented a variety of strategies aimed at combating terrorists’ threats underpinned by a decisive focus on their finances. He said regardless of the adoption of these measures, it should be emphasised that effective combating of financial crimes and terrorism is a collaborative effort involving all stakeholders, especially law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence units, regulatory agencies and the judiciary.
Also speaking, the Deputy Director, Legal Services, Dauda Usman, said all hands must be on deck to combat the menace of terrorism financing, whose activities are ravaging most parts of the country.
EBA 01 September 2022
-EBA observes that most competent authorities have devoted resources to ensure effective functioning of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CFT) colleges.
-EBA finds that ongoing cooperation and proactive information exchanges between supervisors has not been fully achieved yet in all AML/CFT colleges.
-EBA recommends the organisation of AML/CFT colleges to be more risk-based.
The European Banking Authority (EBA) published today its second report on the functioning of AML/CFT supervisory colleges in the EU. The Report finds that, although competent authorities are committed to implementing the AML/CFT colleges framework, they need to do more to ensure ongoing collaboration and proactive information exchange within colleges.
This Report sets out findings and observations from EBA staff participation in AML/CFT college meetings and from its monitoring activities. In the report, the EBA sets out its observations of good practices with an aim to help competent authorities to enhance their effectiveness in future. These include well-structured and organised college meetings by lead supervisors, pro-active participation and sharing of comprehensive information by some members and an effective involvement of prudential supervisors in some colleges.
The report also highlights areas for improvement. In particular, it points out that, due to their immaturity, AML/CFT colleges are not yet fully embedded in supervisory processes. The Report reminds the supervisors of the importance to exchange information in colleges on an ongoing basis and without delay, particularly where material weaknesses in the institution’s AML/CFT framework have been identified. It also emphasises the need for colleges to be organised in a more risk-sensitive manner with more frequent meetings being held for those cross-border institutions that are exposed to higher risks of ML/TF.
Legal basis and background
-Directive (EU) 2018/843 (AMLD) introduced an explicit requirement for competent authorities to cooperate with each other but did not provide a framework of how this cooperation should happen in practice. The ESAs Guidelines (JC 2019 81) on cooperation and information exchange between competent authorities supervising credit and financial institutions published in December 2019 provide details how competent authorities should give effect to the cooperation requirements set out in AMLD, by establishing a framework for AML/CFT colleges.
-Colleges are permanent structures that serve to enhance cooperation between different supervisors involved in the supervision of cross-border institutions. The outcomes of the various ML/TF scandals involving various European banks, showed that the absence of such cooperation would often lead to ML/TF risk not being identified and addressed in good time.
-In 2021, a total of 227 AML/CFT colleges were established and the EBA is a member of each college. The EBA attended meetings of 37 colleges and provided feedback to the lead supervisors on the effectiveness of each college. In addition, the EBA provided technical support to all colleges and worked to raise awareness of AML/CFT colleges through presentations, training events and workshops.
Zawya Staff Writer, Saudi Press Agency September 3, 2022
The Forum will last for three days with the participation of 350 banking experts from 21 countries
Sharm El-Sheikh: The Naif Arab University for Security Sciences is organizing the Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Forum, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, in cooperation with the Union of Arab Banks, the UN Counter-Terrorism Centre, and the Central Bank of Egypt, which kicked off today and will last for three days with the participation of 350 banking experts from 21 countries.
President of Naif Arab University for Security Sciences, Dr. Abdul Majeed bin Abdullah Al-Bunyan, delivered a speech at the event where he welcomed the attendees, stressing that the university urged the establishment of such events and scientific programs to improve security efforts and build Arab capabilities to confront security risks and combat crime.
He underscored the university's efforts in preparing studies and research that contribute to the formation of policies related to confronting terrorism, adding that the university has launched the Financial Integrity Program to train experts and specialists in money laundering and combating terrorism.
Secretary-General of the Arab Interior Ministers Council, Dr. Mohammed Ali Kuman, stressed in his speech the importance of cutting off funding for terrorists, stressing that it is no less important than the intellectual and security confrontation of terrorism.
The Secretary-General of the Union of Arab Banks, Wissam Fattouh, highlighted the importance of cooperation between the banking, judicial and security sectors to combat all forms of crime, stressing that money laundering and terrorist financing remain the biggest challenge for banks and international regulatory, judicial and security authorities.
Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Union of Arab Banks, Mohamed-El-Atribi, underlined the danger of pirates targeting the financial system to destabilize clients’ confidence, doubling the importance of joint action at all levels to curb financial crime in all its forms.
The forum highlights the importance of cooperation between security agencies, judicial bodies, and the banking sector to combat money laundering and terrorist financing and the risks that Arab societies face as a result of financial crimes, and their impact on economic and financial stability. It also discusses the best ways to increase the effectiveness of combating these crimes, especially in light of accelerated and advanced financial technologies.
The gathering also aims to strike a balance between developing innovations in the financial and banking sector, enhancing compliance with legislation and controls, ensuring data protection in banks and cybersecurity, and enhancing understanding of financial institutions and stakeholders on best practices to reach the real beneficiary of dealing with them, discussing ways to conduct a money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessment, and integrating its results.
GENEVA -- The arbitrary shutdown of hundreds of civil society organisations in Nicaragua is deeply concerning and would have a chilling effect on activists and human rights defenders across the country, UN experts warned today.
In a letter addressed to the Nicaraguan Government on Monday, UN experts said the cancellation of the legal personality of hundreds of associations "represents a clear pattern of repressing civic space."
The experts echoed a statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights earlier this year regarding the crackdown on civil society in Nicaragua.
They expressed shock about the wide extent of the shutdowns by the National Assembly at the request of the Government. They counted the closure of more than 700 organisations, 487 of them only in the past month.
Even though the closure of civic space has been observed since the political unrest in 2018, the closure of organisations has accelerated as a result of a 2020 Law on Foreign Agents and a 2022 Law on Regulation and Control of Non-Profit Organizations (NPO), which was recently enforced.
Ahead of the NPO Law entering into force in May, the experts provided their legal analysis and expressed their concerns. Specifically, the NPO Law imposes burdensome administrative and registration procedures, the disclosure of data of beneficiaries, and significantly restricts foreign funding. To date, the experts have not received a response to their observations.
"We regret to see that, once again, counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering legislation is being misused to unnecessarily and disproportionately restrict the activities of civil society and fundamental freedoms," the experts said, pointing to a global trend.
They said the shutdowns have not only affected human rights organisations, including those working towards the rights of women and indigenous people, but also those that promote democratic values and counter the negative effects of climate change.
The shutdowns also impact associations that provide humanitarian aid and medical services as well as educational, cultural and artistic institutions, and religious foundations.
"This situation will have even more devastating consequences for marginalised individuals and groups who rely on those services for their survival, for instance, rural and indigenous communities, children and youth, women, migrants and asylum seekers," the experts said.
The UN experts expressed concern about the deterring effect that these shutdowns have on members of civil society. Hundreds of activists have already fled the country and sought refuge in neighbouring States due to fear of reprisals, they said.
"We urge the State to abstain from further closures and immediately reverse these severe restrictions on associations. A functioning, well-established and diverse civic and political space is key in any democratic country," the experts said.
ABU DHABI, 25th August, 2022 (WAM) -- The Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF), met on Thursday to conclude a review on progress in the first half of 2022.
Highlights Include: The UAE has signed five new international judicial cooperation agreements (IJCAs) with: the United States, Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, and Italy.
Regular strategic engagement and technical workshops have been held with the European Union (EU), the United States and United Kingdom.
The National Economic Registry now contains the ultimate beneficial ownership (UBO) of 77 percent of corporate vehicles – an important standard for transparency. Plans are in place to reach 100 percent.
Suspicious transactions reporting (STRs) increased 51 percent year-on-year (1Q21 vs 1Q22) demonstrating greater AML/ CFT understanding by private sector and monitoring by supervisory authorities.
16 government agencies and more than 20 private sector representatives have joined a Private Public Partnership to enhance effectiveness of AML/CFT regime and develop a legislation for sharing information between public and private sectors.
There have been significant AML/CFT enforcement actions Hamid Al Zaabi, Director General, said:
"We have a clear agenda for combating illicit finance and preserving the integrity of the global financial system. It is anchored in embedding the institutional capabilities set out in the UAE’s National Risk Assessment, National Action Plan and National Strategy for AML/CTF. We carried the positive progress of 2021 into the first six months of this year and we take encouragement from that.
''Our priority remains to build long-term, sustainable capabilities and to accelerate the development of the UAE’s ability to detect, investigate and understand money laundering and terrorist financing as we advance financial crime compliance frameworks in the UAE and around the world."
International Cooperation In September 2021 the UAE signed a landmark partnership with the UK to tackle illicit finance. This has facilitated new opportunities for cooperation, such as the exercise with the UK National Crime Agency to combat the smuggling of significant volumes of cash and gold from UK airports.
During the course of 2022 regular bilateral UAE-UK dialogues have been held to discuss improving information, financial intelligence and facilitating action against AML/CFT. Similar events have been held with the European Union (EU) and the United States. The UAE has also signed five new international judicial cooperation agreements (ICJAs) with the United States, Russia, Netherlands, Denmark, and Italy. During a visit to the US in July 2022, the EO led a delegation from the UAE that met with Department of Treasury, private sector entities and leading think-tanks to discuss areas of collaboration in combating money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing.
Reporting of suspicious transactions and financial intelligence The UAE Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is the central agency that works closely with relevant competent authorities to determine links between possible proceeds of crime, money laundering or terrorist financing.
The number of suspicious transaction (STR) reports received by the FIU increased by 51 percent year-on-year (1Q21 vs 1Q22) with the financial sector contributing the vast majority. This demonstrates the success of outreach and educational programmes designed to raise and deepen AML/ CFT awareness.
The FIU was strengthened by an increase of over 85 percent in human resources and the development and adoption of new tools, which raised the effectiveness of money laundering investigations, including for predicate offences and asset-tracing.
This builds on the investments in people and technology such as the Fawri Tick system, GoAML, Integrated Enquiries Management System (IEMS) and the National Economic Registry (NER).
Efforts have also focused on improving designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBPs) transaction-monitoring systems. Work has also been conducted to help DNFBPs identify, assess and take effective action to mitigate their money laundering, terrorist financing and proliferation financing risks.
Targeted Financial Sanctions Authorities in the UAE have successfully carried out a number of high-profile arrests in relation to financial crime working in close cooperation with partners in Europe, Africa and the US. In addition, thorough investigation has led to the proceeds of crime being recovered, or confiscated.
Similarly, the swift implementation of targeted financial sanctions or freezing orders have also been used as key steps in the enforcement process. The UAE is committed to going further by incorporating relevant provisions to prevent terrorist financing into the new law regulating charities.
Competent authorities have also increased their understanding of targeted financial sanctions evasion typologies in both the public and private sectors. For example, the Executive Office for Control and Non-Proliferation has focused on money transfer services such as hawala, imposing dissuasive measures on firms that fail to demonstrate AML/CFT compliance. Significant fines have also been issued to some DNFBPs for breaching AML/CFT standards.
The UAE has also addressed technical deficiencies pertaining to freezing obligations in the Local List, whereby firms are required to freeze assets where the UAE authorities impose a freezing order in relation to targeted financial sanctions for terrorist financing and proliferation. In June 2021, the UAE received an upgrade in relation to this Recommendation, R.6, from MENAFATF, for the measures taken to improve the Local List system. The UAE has added 38 individuals and 15 entities to the Local List, while the UAE Cabinet approved their inclusion in the national terrorism list.
In March 2022 the UAE worked closely with international counterparties on the dual listing of individuals belonging to a terrorist group. This led to the UAE’s law enforcement agencies taking action to arrest the individuals, raid their offices and homes, and collect physical and electronic evidence.
Embedding a risk-based supervision and enforcement The UAE’s risk-based approach (RBA) is central to the effective implementation of the FATF recommendations. This includes targeted RBAs in high risk areas such as dealers of precious metals and stones. RBAs have enabled the competent authorities to target firms for inspections, encouraging remedial action where non-compliance is identified.
Total enforcement actions imposed by supervisory authorities during this period exceeded AED 42 million.
The UAE confiscated more than AED 2.35 billion (US$640 million) in illicit assets in 2021, of which AED 15 million (US$4 million) was in gold and precious metals.
The UAE has had numerous successes leading to: the arrest of a European thief who had stolen AED 3 million (c. US$ 817,000); uncover of a fraudulent scheme in cryptocurrency trading and money laundering, leading to arrests and prosecutions of the accused; and 40 people jailed and fined AED 860 million for fraud and money laundering., among many other significant arrests and international cases such as the arrest of suspect Sanjay Shah, and with South African authorities to arrest the Gupta Brothers.
BERLIN, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Germany wants to create a new financial crime authority that would bundle several fragmented competencies, including sanctions enforcement, said a finance ministry paper on Tuesday.
There are currently more than 300 supervisory bodies across Germany, a figure the finance ministry would like to reduce.
With the new authority, the finance ministry hopes to make it easier to tackle complex international money laundering cases, which have long been a weak spot for the country.
"We need to do better in many areas," said a government representative, referring to the fight against money laundering.
The current FIU unit, which receives suspicious activity reports, will work with the new authority, and a coordination unit will be set up to supervise the non-financial sector.
Details on the ministry's plans will be published this week.
AMMAN — Jordan is committed to anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), Governor of the Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) Adel Sharkas said on Monday.
During the opening ceremony of a forum regarding compliance with international standards related to AML/CFT, Sharkas highlighted the CBJ efforts to improve the requirements of international standards, notably through the issuance of guidelines and holding capacity-building training programmes.
The forum was organised by the Union of Arab Banks (UAB), in cooperation with the Association of Banks in Jordan (ABJ), the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
The event is part of the Kingdom's efforts to lead international cooperation in AML/CFT, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
The CBJ, through the national committee of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism, has reviewed and introduced amendments to the related legislation to comply with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards, which resulted in the issuance of the new anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism law, as well as a new “Companies Law” that addresses shortcomings in the "actual beneficiary" of financial operations, according to Petra.
Secretary General of the UAB Wissam Fattouh said that the volume of money laundering operations around the world is enormous, and growing.
"It could reach some $2 trillion annually, which is equal to 5 per cent of the global GDP,” Fattouh said.
ABJ Chairman Bassem Salem called for allocating additional sources to support anti-money laundering, stressing the Jordanian banks’ adherence to all standards and regulations related to AML/CFT, and further emphasising their cooperation with all related bodies, including the higher committee of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 22): Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) on Monday (Aug 22) signed a terms of collaboration (TOC) towards strengthening regulation and supervision of anti-money laundering, countering financing of terrorism and targeted financial sanctions.
The TOC set out the respective regulatory and supervisory responsibilities of BNM and SSM in the regulation and supervision of company secretaries and trust companies, the two entities said in a joint statement.
"It will also provide for a more structured approach to assess money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risks in these two sectors, as well as to promote institutional capacity building in these areas," the statement read.
SSM chief executive officer Datuk Nor Azimah Abdul Aziz said it is important for company secretaries and trust companies to know and understand their roles and risk exposures related to ML/TF.
This will form the basis for them to understand and develop countermeasures against these criminal activities. Today’s (Monday) signing is a significant stride towards that goal,” she said.
BNM governor Tan Sri Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus said the central bank is confident that SSM will be able to take on greater responsibility to conduct anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism supervision on company secretaries and trust companies in the near future.
“BNM is pleased to have SSM working closely with us to secure and maintain the integrity of the financial system,” she said.