News in Brief – March 2021

AFRICA
  • The Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) says 26 members have been arrested by security operatives, over alleged unlawful foreign exchange (FX) transactions by the Department of State Security Services (DSS)
AMERICAS
  • One of California’s most profitable card rooms in the Bay Area was fined $5.3m by California state for violating anti-money laundering controls. Failure to properly report an investigation by the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network lead to the largest penalty in the history of California’s gambling regulation
  • The findings of Suriname’s National Risk Assessment (NRA) on anti-money laundering (AML) and Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Corruption were released and there are inherent problems with corruption
  • Cryptocurrency exchange fraud may be the newest pop-up bank robbing scheme out there as 6 are charged with conspiracy
ANZ
  • Alleged Sydney bitcoin money laundering syndicate under investigation of $5m funnelled through cryptocurrencies
  • The Department of International Affairs (DIA) issued the first formal warning against real estate agency Property Brokers for failure to comply with Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism laws
  • Under the changes known as “Tranche Two”, the number of Australian entities that report to AUSTRAC would rise from about 15,000 entities to more than 100,000 with lawyers, accountants and real estate agents forced to join the reporting regime. AUSTRAC, financial intelligence regulator, will now undergo questioning on their capacity to monitor and enforce breaches
  • AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose advised there was no evidence that nine Australian banks compromised by drug cartels did anything wrong ($500 million in drug money passed through their systems)
  • Crown Resorts has confirmed an $8 billion takeover offer from US private equity giant Blackstone although the board has not formed a view yet
ASIA
  • The Anti-Money Laundering Council of the Philippines issued a freeze order on the bank deposits and assets of United Church of Christ (UCCP) Haran bank, a religious group’s center allegedly used to finance or support terrorism.
  • Malaysian national on a pension was charged in the Sessions Court with eight counts of money laundering involving  a total of RM753,220 allegedly from smuggling of elephant tusks
EUROPE
  • £1.4m cash found on criminal (money launderer and former Czech Republic national) in luggage at Heathrow airport which he was trying to smuggle out of the UK on a flight headed for Dubai
  • The deputy of Russia’s anti-money laundering body Rosfinmonitoring. announced the organisation will begin monitoring cryptocurrency transactions that involve conversion from crypto to fiat and they appear to be already getting cooperation from banks
  • Prime Minister Robert Abela is warning the financial services sector that Malta is in a crucial stage relating to the Moneyval assessment. It is confirmed that the government has received a draft Moneyval report, with its conclusions being analysed by technical experts
  • The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global anti-money laundering watchdog, has released updated guidance on digital assets and digital asset service providers
  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has commenced criminal proceedings against NatWest Plc for offences under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007
MIDDLE EAST
  • A memorandum of understanding was signed Wednesday between the Justice Ministry’s Israel Money Laundering and Terror Financing Prohibition Authority and the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit
  • Three Lebanese nationals have been sentenced for financing terrorist bodies. The Special Investigation Commission of the Lebanese central bank exposed their illegal activity after monitoring their bank accounts in France, Germany, and other European countries, and revealed that they had been transferring money to terrorists.

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