KYC360 Weekly Roundup - 27th May 2022

Published on May 27, 2022

Russia Sanctions Update

While the rate of which sanctions being imposed against Russia has slowed considerably, their effects are being felt across the broadest spectrum of society, from energy bills affecting the poorest households across Europe to Russia’s richest oligarchs feeling the squeeze on their vast fortunes.

Meanwhile, Western powers are turning their attention to ensuring not only that sanctions are implemented effectively, but that they are empowered to freeze and seize the assets of sanctioned individuals and entities.  It has been a busy time for regulatory bodies and investigative reports, with FATF releasing AML updates on France and Israel, Romania and Afghanistan coming under scrutiny, while the U.S. and Switzerland look to bolster their regulatory regimes. 

We also shine the spotlight on the ever-present scourge of money laundering, and report on an upsurge in scams and fraudulent activity. And finally, we wrap up this week’s Roundup with a selection of the most newsworthy items from around the world. 

 

Sanctions-1Sanctions 

Brussels to make breaking Russia sanctions a criminal offence 

The European Commission proposal aims to unify the bloc’s approach and make sanctions evasion a serious crime in all 27 members of the EU. This would allow all member states to confiscate the assets of companies and individuals that evade EU sanctions imposed on Russia and other sanctioned nations. 

Report: Western countries unite in commitment to freezing and seizing Russian dirty money 

Denying safe havens to Russian kleptocrats and uncovering their illicit wealth requires multilateral efforts. Several Western governments are now joining forces to create a dedicated task force which will focus on both implementing sanctions effectively and securing meaningful action to freeze and seize assets. 

Latest EU sanctions to target new group of Russia’s business elite

As the EU, UK, and the US search for Russians to add to their sanctions list, they are increasingly turning to managers of private Russian companies with close ties to the West. But many observers question the logic behind this move as it is unlikely they would have any influence over the Kremlin and would only be seen to be puppets of foreign powers.  

Sanctioned oligarch’s son alleged to have £160m London property empire 

The son of a Russian billionaire sanctioned for supporting the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has been linked to a £160m portfolio of London properties. It is claimed that Said Gutseriev, who holds both British and Russian nationality, has amassed a collection of luxury properties in central London. 

Former UN chief urges no wavering on Russia sanctions 

The former Secretary-General of the United Nations Ban Ki-moon, has called on global gas industry leaders to maintain their sanctions on Russia, despite their impact on the world economy.  

Senior Russian diplomat resigns over Ukraine war 

Boris Bondarev, who was a counsellor at the Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, has resigned his post. He cited the “aggressive war” on Ukraine and is one of the most high-profile condemnations of Russia’s invasion to date, saying that those who “conceived” the war want “only one thing” to “remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces” and enjoy “complete impunity.” 

Davos talks: Ukrainian President calls for maximum sanctions on Russia 

In a virtual speech to the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Ukrainian President Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions against the Kremlin, saying they needed to go further to stop Russia’s aggression, including a total oil embargo, blocking its banks, and cutting off all trade.

Russian oil giant slashes production as sanctions hit the sector

Rosneft, Russia’s biggest oil company has borne the brunt of the impact from a slowdown in production following sanctions, with Bloomberg analysis claiming that since February Rosneft’s output has fallen by around 560,000 barrels per day. 

Why Vladimir Putin’s fortune will never be uncovered 

Robert Mazur, a federal agent for 27 years, court-certified expert in money-laundering related matters, best-selling author of “The Infiltrator”, explains why he believes that the world will never uncover Putin’s hidden wealth. 

 

Financial_ServicesMoney Laundering, Fraud & Corruption

127 people currently facing charges of money laundering in Malta 

As Malta waits to find out whether it has done enough to be taken off the FATF’s ‘greylist’ of untrustworthy jurisdictions, a parliamentary question revealed the extent of money laundering in the country. Local businesspeople have been under the microscope of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, which in 2021 saw a 200% increase in suspicious transactions. 

Abu Dhabi Court convicts 79 people of fraud and money laundering 

The Abu Dhabi Criminal Court has convicted an organised criminal gang of fraud and money laundering over internet scam that used fake URLs of a Chinese website offering securities brokerage and trading services. The gang tricked their victims into investing in securities and then laundered the money to conceal its source. 

Drugs gang laundered proceeds through ice cream parlours and takeaways 

Members of the gang were directors of Limited companies, including ‘WTR Sheds’, ‘Mikey’s Sweet Dreams’ ice cream parlour, ‘Botatelli’s Ice Cream’, and a takeaway called ‘Spudway’. All of which were fronts for laundering vast amounts of cash derived from their criminal activities. 

Teen killer charged with running $2 million COVID-relief scam from jail 

A teenager who murdered her mother has been charged with running a $2 million COVID-19 unemployment relief scam from her prison cell. From June 2020 to April 2021, Natalie Le DeMola allegedly obtaining the personal identity information of other inmates and their visitors, to file for unemployment relief funds during the early days of the pandemic.

Former tax office worker jailed after posing as dead man in £171k fraud scheme 

James McGee claimed to be a deceased man to make VAT repayment claims using knowledge from a 34-year-career with HMRC to carry out the fraudulent act. The investigation by the public body and the National Crime Agency (NCA) led to his conviction and a 30-month jail sentence. 

Berlin dentist believed to have swindled Moscow out of millions 

It is alleged that a dentist and his Ukrainian mistress used forged Kremlin powers of attorney to sell Russian government-owned properties worth millions. The case has reached the highest levels of politics, with the Russian Embassy asking the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the German Foreign Ministry for assistance. 

Former Panamanian president’s sons sentenced to 3 years prison for money laundering

Two sons of ex-Panama President Ricardo Martinelli have been sentenced to 3-year prison terms in a U.S. court for laundering millions of dollars in bribe payments made by Brazilian construction firm Odebrecht to a high-ranking Panamanian official. 

 

RequirementsLegislation, Regulation and Sustainability

FATF: France AML/CFT Mutual Evaluation Report May 2002 

This new report summarises the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) measures in place in France following the on-site visit in 2021. It analyses and reports on the level of compliance with the FATF 40 Recommendations and the level of effectiveness of France’s AML/CTF system. 

FATF: Israel follow-up report & technical compliance re-rating May 2022 

A new FATF follow-up report sets out the progress that Israel has made to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing since their 2018 assessment and updates on all actions the country has taken. 

Romania receives money laundering and terrorist financing National Risk Assessment report 

The Council of Europe Economic Crime and Cooperation Division, in cooperation with the European Commission Directorate General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM) and Romanian authorities hosted a high-level event to present the findings of the NRA report to high-level officials in Romania. 

Report: Illicit financing in Afghanistan: Methods, mechanisms, and threat-agnostic disruption opportunities 

Drug traffickers, warlords, terrorist groups, and former government officials, are exploiting Afghanistan to achieve their own political and economic objectives. This in-depth report explores the current challenges facing the country and what steps can be taken to counter illicit actors. 

FCA cautions UK against rushing to create ‘crypto hub’

The chair of Britain’s financial regulator has cautioned against a rush to add crypto markets to the FCA’s remit after the government announced its desire to make the UK a crypto hub.   

U.S. senators call for full funding of FinCEN’s anti-money laundering operations 

A group of U.S. senators has requested the maximum possible funding for the Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), in order to support the implementation and enforcement of key anti-money laundering and anti-corruption reforms.   

Swiss-based think tank calls for greater international collaboration on the regulation of crypto 

Global coordinated action against illicit crypto-markets and the exploitation of loopholes between different jurisdictions is one of several recommendations made in a recent paper, drafted by the Basel Institute of Governance and The International Academy of Financial Crime Litigators. 

Insurance giant Marsh brokers deal for environmentally disastrous pipeline project 

Marsh, the world’s biggest insurance broker has won the contract to find insurers for the east African crude oil pipeline (EACOP), a huge and environmentally damaging project expected to generate more than 33 million tons of carbon emissions each year. Over 100 Marsh employees signed a letter urging the company not to broker the deal that would have “disastrous consequences” for the climate. 

 

Gambling_GamingGaming and Gambling

Sweden’s gambling regulator fines online gaming operators €138,000 

Online gaming operators Mr Green and Evoke Gaming were fined for failing to report accurate information. The two operators, which are in the process of being sold by Caesars Entertainment to 888 Holdings, will pay a combined SEK1.45m (approx. €138,000) penalty for breaching Swedish regulations, which came into force in 2019. 

 

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