21 Nov 2017
Published in News

Jersey seizes £59m of criminal assets in a decade

BBC

Assets totalling nearly £59m have been confiscated from criminals connected to Jersey over a 10-year period, figures obtained by the BBC show.

A transparency campaigner said the return was “relatively modest” for an island “vulnerable” to money laundering.

Island authorities believe the amount demonstrates financial crime is being fought effectively.

It is estimated at least £100bn is laundered through the UK every year.

The information, obtained via a Freedom of Information request, shows in the 10 years to 2016, £58.8m of criminal money connected to Jersey was confiscated by authorities.

It was seized by island and international law enforcement agencies, with a proportion being re-invested to tackle crime on the island.

John Christensen, a former Jersey government advisor turned campaigner, says law enforcement agencies struggle to deal with complex money laundering operations using multiple “secrecy jurisdictions”.

Earlier this month the Paradise Papers revealed Apple used Jersey to legally reduce its tax bill.

21 Nov 2017
Published in News

Hong Kong’s bitcoin businesses local bank accounts frozen

South China Morning Post

Hong Kong’s bitcoin entrepreneurs say they have been forced to open bank accounts overseas to operate their businesses, after local banks froze or closed their accounts, threatening the city’s push to become a fintech hub.

Staff at Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange Gatecoin – which allow customers to exchange their digital money for fiat currency – were left perplexed after they received a phone call from a Hang Seng Bank representative on September 15, where they held a company bank account, and were told their account was suspended without a detailed explanation.

“It was a major disruption to our business,” Gatecoin marketing head Thomas Glucksmann said.

“We had just tripled our customer base in a two to three month period, the price of bitcoin was rallying, the amount of money clients were depositing was increasing – the timing couldn’t have been worse.”

21 Nov 2017
Published in News

Nigeria: Govt.’s $407m case against Shell, firms to resume

A Federal High Court in Lagos will on Jan. 23, 2018, resume hearing of a $406.8 million suit instituted by the Federal Government against Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd, over crude oil shipment.

The suit numbered FHC/L/CS/336/16 was filed by Prof. Fabian Ajogwu (SAN), counsel to the Federal Government.It has as defendants: Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria Ltd. and its subsidiary, Shell Western Supply & Trading Ltd.

The suit, which was billed for continuation of hearing, was stalled following the absence of the trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun.

Consequently, the continuation of hearing will resume on Jan. 23, 2018.

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Delays with EU anti-money laundering rules ‘frustrate’ transparency – lawmakers

KYC360 News

Certain groups within the European Union are deliberately delaying progress on a new anti-money laundering (AML) law in order to stall plans for public beneficial ownership registers, the EU parliamentarians charged with steering the legal process have warned.

The latest negotiations on the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) could not proceed after it emerged that the Council attended a trialogue, or special meeting, without a mandate to negotiate, and there was a lack of text as a basis for discussion.

Krišjānis Kariņš leading the negotiations on behalf of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee said: “The European Parliament regrets that the Council is not ready to undertake serious negotiations in order to reach an agreement.

“We are concerned that the delay in the negotiations between the Parliament and Council may be used as a reason to delay the implementation of 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive and, in effect, the setting up of beneficial ownership registers.”

The EU Parliament has negotiated “in good faith” from the very onset and expects the Council “to be constructive and willing to reach an agreement before the end of the year,” he added.

He was backed by fellow 5AMLD rapporteur Judith Sargentini, who has frequently stressed the need for transparency registers tin order to clamp down on cash being consealed.

“We have seen Lux leaks, the Panama Papers and now the Paradise Papers. The list is getting longer but members states fail to see the urgency,” Sargentini said, “we need to finalise this legislation and implement it as soon as possible as transparency around ownership will help to fight money laundering and tax evasion.

“The delay in finalising a deal on the 5th update to the AMLD is having a knock-on effect on implementation of the 4th update. This cannot continue.”

The subject of public registers of the beneficial or true owners of companies has caused huge division within members of the EU, with some advocating for information of corporate ownership to be accessible only to government and other agencies, while others believe such data should be made available to ordinary members of the public too.

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

India: Demonetisation had ‘drastic’ impact on monetary conditions – RBI top official

KYC360 News

The implementation of India’s demonetisation programme overwhelmed banks to such an extent that key monetary benchmarks could have crashed and governments stocks wiped out, a central bank executive said in a speech on Tuesday.

The programme, which was announced in November last by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, outlawed about 86% of bank notes in the country in a move aimed at tackling corrupt money.

As the withdrawn currency notes were returned by the public, deposits flooded into banks and swamped them with idle reserves.
“A wall of liquidity started moving through financial markets, threatening to take down everything in its path – interest rates; yields; exchange rates; asset prices,” said the Reserve Bank of India’s Michael Debabrata Patra.

“Standing alone between the ocean of liquidity and financial chaos, the RBI mounted an extraordinary liquidity absorption strategy. It combined unconventional instruments with regular operations when the liquidity tsunami was so overwhelming that it could have completely depleted the RBI’s stock of government securities that are used as collateral in reverse repo auctions.”

Patra added that in order to “tide over the delay in obtaining market stabilisation scheme securities from the government, the incremental cash reserve ratio (ICRR) was deployed and for the first time in the RBI’s history, an ICRR of the size of 100 per cent of the relevant demand and time liabilities of banks was applied.”

Meanwhile, Nobel Economics laureate Richard Thaler has said he while he backed aspects of demonetisation, the introduction of a larger denomination added puzzlement.

In a tweet exchange with Swaraj Kumar, who is believed to be a student, Thaler said: “The concept was good as a move to a cashless society to impede corruption but the rollout was deeply flawed and the introduction of the Rs 2000 note makes the motivation for the entire exercise puzzling.”

The Rs 2000 were introduced after the ban of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000.

However, replacing smaller denominations with a higher value note is reported to have left people stuck [for change].

Despite various criticism, Modi’s BJP party has defended the demonetisation policy, saying it has led to a drop in currency circulation, which signifies some success in fulfilling a goal to transform India into a less-cash economy and hence reduce the flow of black money.

By Irene Madongo

Related topics:

India Anti-black Money Day: Was it demonetisation worth the hassle?

India: Corruption can’t be cleared with one stroke

Demonetisation: India’s unprecedented move against corruption

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Australia: Bank enforces deposit limits following money laundering scandal

KYC360 News

The Commonwealth Bank of Australia is to introduce caps on the amount customers can deposit as part of new plans to fulfill its anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorism financing obligations.

The bank has come under pressure to reform its compliance structures after it was found criminals and terror financiers allegedly used it to launder millions.

From Tuesday 21 November, clients will have a $20,000 total daily deposit limit using their personal cards at deposit ATMs, regardless of the number of deposit transactions made in a day.

“We believe we are the first major bank to introduce card-based daily limits for cash deposits at our deposit ATMs,” a CBA statement said, adding that: “This change is another important step in the management of money laundering risks.”

The move is also aimed at striking a balance between the CBA’s obligation to prevent financial crime and meeting its customers’ legitimate banking needs, it explained.

Tuesday’s cap is an addition to other steps it has taken in its AML strategy, which includes reporting of any suspicious transactions conducted across its network and the reporting of every cash deposit of $10,000 or more.

The banks said it is in the process of contacting those customers it believes may be affected by the new probe.

“We are contacting them to provide information on the other options available to meet their banking needs.”

The new measures could be followed by more changes to improve its AML operations in the future, depending on the outcome of probes launched against it following the money laundering and terror funding allegations.

The bank is being investigated by Australian financial watchdog Austrac, and in August, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), announced it too would be launching a probe.

The aim of the APRA inquiry is to identify governance shortcomings and make recommendations on how they are addressed, as well as consider whether the CBA’s frameworks are conflicting with solid risk management and compliance outcomes.

Related topics:

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank faces second regulatory probe

Heads roll at Australia’s CBA amid money laundering scandal

Australia’s new accountability regime BEAR seeks to shake-up banking sector

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Australia: Rebel lawmakers vow to force inquiry into banks

20 November 2017

By Tom Westbrook, REUTERS

Rebel government lawmakers in Australia vowed on Monday to force a powerful inquiry into the country’s scandal-hit banking sector, further turmoil for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull as he languishes in the polls amid a citizenship crisis.

The threatened move is a major embarrassment for Turnbull, who has already rejected public and opposition calls for such an inquiry, and an unpalatable prospect for the country’s Big Four banks who hold a combined A$3.6 trillion (2.06 trillion pounds) in assets.

The banks have already faced a grilling in recent months by cross-party parliamentary committees over scandals including providing misleading financial advice, insurance fraud and rate-rigging.

But the probe being pushed by a handful of conservative government lawmakers would turn up the heat on the banks, with the power to compel executives to testify, to demand documents and to recommend both prosecutions and new legislation.

Related topics:

AML going South? Money laundering and “non-financial businesses and professionals” in Australia

Australian charities targeted for money laundering, terrorism financing

Australia’s Commonwealth Bank faces second regulatory probe

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Germany: Talks in forming coalition collapse, Merkel faces challenges

BBC

Talks on forming a coalition government in Germany have collapsed, leaving Angela Merkel facing her biggest challenge in 12 years as chancellor.

The free-market liberal FDP pulled out after four weeks of talks with Mrs Merkel’s CDU/CSU bloc and the Greens.
FDP leader Christian Lindner said there was “no basis of trust” between them.

What happens next is unclear, but Mrs Merkel is meeting President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who has the power to call elections.
The German stock market slipped slightly on the news that the talks had collapsed.

Mrs Merkel said she regretted the collapse, adding she would formally tell the German president that negotiations had failed.
Her bloc won September’s poll, but many voters deserted the mainstream parties.

“As chancellor, I will do everything to ensure that this country is well managed in the difficult weeks to come,” she said.

Related topics:

German elections: After past failures, what lies ahead for financial crime in new Merkel era?

Panama Papers: Germany conducts first raids over tax leaks

Russian sanctions removal depends on Ukraine ceasefire agreement – Merkel

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Middle East: Energy sector is overtaking finance for cybercrime

Times of Oman

Energy is overtaking banking and finance as a target for cyber-criminals in the Middle East, yet companies in the sector are leaving themselves significantly more open to a successful attack, leading international experts have told the Security in Energy conference in Abu Dhabi.

Co-located within the Abu Dhabi International Petroleum Exhibition and Conference (ADIPEC), Security in Energy recognises the increasingly critical importance of IT systems to oil and gas operations.

In an opening address to delegates, Ibrahim Al Shamrani, Executive Director of Operations at Saudi Arabia’s National Cyber Security Centre, said 300 new malware samples were being discovered each day, and that his organisation was facing a growing number of attacks on the energy industry.

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Lithuanian parliament passes bill similar to Magnitsky Act

By Rapsi News

Lithuanian Seimas has passed a bill on sanctions against persons, who are believed to be involved in the death of Hermitage Capital auditor Sergey Magnitsky on November 16, 2009, the resolution of the country’s parliament reads.

Lithuania is a fifth country to adopt an act related to Magnitsky’s case. Previously, similar documents were passed by the United States, Estonia, Canada and Great Britain.

According to the bill, foreigners, who are involved in major violations of human rights, corruption and embezzlement, are prohibited from entering Lithuania.

These persons are also prohibited from acquiring and holding assets on the country’s territory, and all existing assets are to be frozen.

The bill is to be implemented by ministers of internal and foreign affairs.

Authors of the bill have called for national parliaments of EU and NATO to pass similar legislation.

PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Nigeria tax evasion: Lawmakers threaten arrest of telecom CEOs

By James Emejo, This Day Live

The Chairman, House of Representatives Ad-hoc Committee investigating the activities of telecoms operators and vendors, Hon. Ahmed Abu (APC, Niger) has threatened to serve bench warrants against chief executives of major telecommunications companies over their failure to appear before it and defend allegations of tax evasion amounting to about N143 billion.

At the resumed hearing over the weekend, Chief Executives of MTN Nigeria, Globacom, Airtel Nigeria, 9mobile Nigeria, former chairman of the defunct Etisalat, Mr. Hakeem Bello Osagie as well as Executive Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Babatunde Fowler, for the umpteenth time did not appear before the committee.

Irked by the development, the committee members forced its chairman to issue a warning that failure to appear on a yet to be communicated date, will leave the lawmakers with no other option than to issue arrest warrants against them.

20 Nov 2017
Published in News

Brazil: Ex-Trump Panama project broker investigated over alleged laundering

17 November 2017

By Brad Brooks, REUTERS

Federal prosecutors in Brazil are conducting a criminal investigation into alleged international money laundering by a man at the centre of a Reuters inquiry into U.S. President Donald Trump’s first international hotel project.

Reuters reviewed more than 350 pages of a sealed investigation by federal police into Alexandre Ventura Nogueira, who spent two years in Brazil after fleeing Panama in 2012.

The inquiry has not previously been disclosed. Nogueira was instrumental in selling many units in the Trump Ocean Club International Hotel and Tower in Panama City, an investigation by Reuters and NBC News found.

“Federal prosecutors in Sao Paulo have been investigating Alexandre Henrique Ventura Nogueira since 2013 for financial crimes and money laundering,” the prosecutors’ office said in a written statement.

The inquiry slowed after Nogueira fled Brazil in October 2014, but the statement added: “The case remains open, Brazilian authorities are aware of the target’s suspicious activities in other countries, and we hope that will help to locate his whereabouts.”

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Scotland: Killer of financial adviser must pay Crown £1

By Emma Hughs, FT Adviser

A murderer serving life for killing a financial adviser has been ordered to pay the Crown £1.

Colin Coates, 47, who was jailed for killing 27 year old Lynda Spence in April 2011, is believed to have made £119,967 from crime.
But Coates maintains he has no money left.

At the High Court in Edinburgh on Wednesday (15 November) Judge Thomas Hughes ordered Coates to pay 100 pence to the Sheriff Clerk’s office in Airdrie, Lanarkshire.

However, the judge allowed prosecutors to seize more money from Coates should they discover he has more assets.

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Swiss regulator finds JPMorgan broke money laundering rules

17 November 2017

Reporting by Oliver Hirt, Silke Koltrowitz, David Henry, REUTERS

Swiss financial markets authority FINMA has found that the Swiss subsidiary of U.S. investment bank JPMorgan (JPM.N) broke anti-money laundering rules, a Swiss court document showed.

FINMA ruled on June 30 that JPMorgan Switzerland had “seriously infringed” regulatory oversight provisions, according to a ruling issued by the Federal Administrative Court on Nov. 8 and published on Thursday.

The case involved a “violation of obligations of diligence on questions of money-laundering,” the court document said.

The court had been examining whether FINMA’s previously undisclosed decision on JPMorgan could be made public, in a case first reported by the Handelszeitung paper.

Both FINMA and JPMorgan declined to comment on FINMA’s ruling

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Brexit: EU gives Theresa May two weeks ultimatum

BBC

Theresa May has been told she has two weeks to put more money on the table if the EU is to agree to begin Brexit trade talks before the end of the year.

EU Council President Donald Tusk said he was “ready” to move onto the next phase of Brexit talks, covering future relations with the UK.
But he said the UK must demonstrate more progress on the “divorce bill” and the Irish border by early next month.

Mrs May said “good progress” was being made but more needed to be done.

The talks are currently deadlocked over the UK’s financial settlement, citizens’ rights and Ireland with Irish PM Leo Varadkar accusing the UK of not “thinking through” the Irish border issue.

a jobs summit in Sweden, Mr Tusk said he wanted to see further progress if he was to recommend to EU leaders at their next meeting on 14 December to give the green light to the next phase of talks.

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Corruption: Saudi crackdown will not hit investments, says minister

17 November 2017

By Ahmad Ghaddar, Dmitry Zhdannikov

Saudi Arabia’s corruption investigations are linked to a just few individuals and will not hinder investments in the kingdom, its energy minister said on Thursday.

Khalid al Falih said the crackdown was way overdue and would also not have any impact on plans to float shares in oil giant Saudi Aramco.

“Everybody understands that this is a limited, domestic affair that the government is simply cleaning house,” he said on the sidelines of the U.N. climate conference in Bonn, Germany.

Saudi Arabia’s future king has tightened his grip on power through an anti-corruption purge by arresting royals, ministers and investors including billionaire Alwaleed bin Talal who is one of the kingdom’s most prominent businessmen.

The move by Prince Mohammed bin Salman against Saudi’s political and business elite also targeted the head of the National Guard, Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, who was detained and replaced as minister of the powerful National Guard by Prince Khaled bin Ayyaf.

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Sanctions: N.Korea petitions Russia to let workers stay – Ifax

17 November 2017

By by Maria Tsvetkova, REUTERS

North Korea has petitioned the Russian parliament to help 3,500 migrant workers from the isolated Asian country stay in Russia despite new U.N. sanctions, the Interfax news agency reported on Friday, citing a Russian lawmaker.

Tougher sanctions on North Korea, imposed by the United Nations Security Council over Pyongyang’s ballistic missile and nuclear programs on Sept. 11, banned countries from providing new work permits for North Korean nationals, but allowed existing workers to remain.

Most of the around 30,000-40,000 North Korean migrants legally working in Russia were hired before the new sanctions entered into force and the ban will not affect them, Interfax said, quoting an earlier statement from Maxim Topilin, Russia’s labor minister.

But the ban could apply to 3,500 workers who only signed their contracts in September, the month when the U.N. Security Council, including Russia, voted for the new sanctions, Interfax reported.

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Nigeria: Former state governor charged with money laundering

By Ahmed Tahir Ajobe, Minna, Daily Trust

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arraigned former Niger State Governor, Dr. Muazu Babaginda Aliyu and Umar Muhammad Nasko, a former commissioner of environment, parks, gardens and forest resources on eight count charges bothering on money laundering and abuse of office of about N2 billion before a Federal High Court sitting in Minna, Niger state.

The case which was before a Federal High Court in Abuja was transferred to a sister court in Minna over matter bordering on jurisdiction.

The duo were accused of laundering ecological funds released by the federal government to the state sometime in 2014.

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Fifa bribery: Argentine football exec commits suicide

By Ed Malyon, Independent

A former Argentine football official killed himself on Tuesday, the same day that he was accused of taking bribes during the second day of a Fifa corruption trial that began in New York this week.

Jorge Delhon, an executive with the Argentine government’s Football For All scheme, was alleged to have accepted $500,000 per year from 2011-2014 to secure the broadcasting rights to international football games during testimony in Brooklyn on Tuesday.

He was later found dead on rail tracks in the Lanus suburb of Buenos Aires after colliding with a train.

Former sports marketing executive Alejandro Burzaco, who was indicted and is now a key witness for the US, has already pleaded guilty to handing out millions of dollars in bribes to a raft of senior officials in South American football.

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Price of bitcoin in post-coup Zimbabwe is not $13,000

By Joon Ian Wong, Quartz Media

Bitcoin is apparently surging in Zimbabwe after the military seized power in an apparent coup. Bloomberg reports that bitcoin is trading in Zimbabwe at over $13,000, nearly double the global price of bitcoin.

But that’s not quite the whole picture.

The price that Bloomberg and other media have quoted comes from a cryptocurrency exchange in Zimbabwe called Golix.

The Golix website shows a wide spread between bids and asks, with the current price settling at around $13,500. But go to another marketplace for bitcoin in Zimbabwe and you will see much lower prices.

Golix appears to be the sole cryptocurrency exchange in Zimbabwe. But most markets that aren’t well served by exchanges, like Zimbabwe, usually have a thriving peer-to-peer scene.

That’s what you see when you go to LocalBitcoins, the biggest global platform for peer-to-peer bitcoin trading.

17 Nov 2017
Published in News

Corruption: Indonesian politician who disappeared in scandal found

By Kate Lamb, Guardian

The search for Indonesia’s house speaker Setya Novanto, who disappeared after becoming the target of an arrest warrant, came to a dramatic end on Thursday when he was reportedly found unconscious in hospital.

The high-profile politician had been on his way to meet anti-corruption investigators when his car collided with an electrical pole in south Jakarta, said his lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi.

Novanto, who is parliamentary speaker and head of the influential Golkar party, has been dogged by persistent allegations that he played a central role in a massive corruption scandal involving an electronic identity card project.

It is alleged he is among a group of legislators and businessmen that siphoned off millions from the project, costing Indonesia $170m in state losses.

After repeatedly dodging calls to be questioned by Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), a warrant for his arrest was issued on Wednesday evening.

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

China’s bitcoin crackdown has helped Japan embrace the cryptocurrency

By Akiko Fujita | Hollie Wong, CNBC

A year ago, China accounted for 90 per cent of all bitcoin trade.

But since Beijing banned initial coin offerings (ICOs) and regulators started to crackdown on bitcoin exchanges in September, another Asian powerhouse has swooped in to embrace the crypto movement.

Japan recognized bitcoin as a legal form of payment earlier this year, and bitcoin trade in the country now accounts for about half the volume of global trade, compared with about a quarter in the US.

Now big retailers are joining the movement, as the cryptocurrency’s legalization has encouraged them to partner with bitcoin exchanges and begin accepting the digital currency as payment.

There’s already more than 4,500 stores in Japan that let you pay with bitcoin, and the Nikkei says that number could increase fivefold by the end of the year.

Mai Fujimoto, known as Miss Bitcoin in Japan, has become a type of “crypto evangelist.”

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

US: Tillerson says sanctions won’t solve Myanmar’s Rohingya crisis

By SCMP

Washington’s top diplomat on Wednesday said he would not yet push for sanctions against Myanmar over the Rohingya refugee crisis, but he called for a independent investigation into “credible” allegations that soldiers were committing atrocities against the Muslim minority.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was speaking after a one-day stop in Naypyidaw, as global outrage builds over impunity for a military accused of waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the Rohingya.

His comments came as de facto civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi hit back at accusations that she has been silent over the refugee crisis,
saying she has focused instead on speech that avoids inflaming sectarian tensions.

More than 600,000 Rohingya have fled the mainly Buddhist country since the military launched a counter-insurgency operation in northern Rakhine state in late August.

While Myanmar’s military insists it has only targeted Rohingya rebels, refugees massing in grim Bangladeshi camps have described chilling and consistent accounts of widespread murder, rape and arson at the hands of security forces and Buddhist mobs.

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

UK: Firm registered at Downing Street under Mafia name

By Jon Stone, the Independent

Italian journalists have moved to set up a company in the name of a notorious mafia boss headquartered at 10 Downing Street – to illustrate weaknesses in British law they say helps people set up shell companies to launder money across the globe.

Reporters at Il Sole 24 Ore said it took just 15 minutes and £12 to register the company at the Prime Minister’s address with Companies House under a false name with no real proof of who they were.

Describing the stunt as a “provocation”, the newspaper said “there is nothing easier than creating ghost companies that can hide illegal activities or recycle money” under Britain’s liberalised corporate registration system.

British overseas territories dominated the map of tax havens in the Paradise Papers leaks, with some MEPs accusing the UK of holding up EU efforts to crack down on tax dodging.

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

Iceland: Panama Papers tax evasion cases dropped

By Helena Ciric, Iceland Review

Around 60 cases against suspected tax evaders have been dropped by the district attorney’s office due to a break in case proceedings while waiting for a decision from the European Court of Human Rights. Kjarninn reported first.

Many of the dropped cases are against individuals who appeared in the Panama Papers and a large part of the cases have to do with individuals who stored funds in tax havens outside of Iceland. According to Fréttablaðið, many of the cases concern Icelandic fishermen who work abroad.

The first cases were dropped less than one month ago and more are expected to be dropped in the near future. There are more than 150 tax evasion cases currently being processed by the district attorney’s office which concern over ISK 30 billion (USD 290 million/EUR 245 million) in taxes.

http://icelandreview.com/news/2017/11/15/dozens-tax-evasion-cases-dropped?language=en

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

Zimbabwe crisis: Country on edge, Mugabe’s future unclear

BBC

Zimbabweans are waiting to see what steps the military will take next after seizing control of the country.

President Robert Mugabe is under house arrest. A Roman Catholic priest known to him for years is trying to mediate a deal on his future with the military.

South African ministers have been in the capital Harare meeting the army and political parties.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc is to hold emergency talks shortly.

President Mugabe, 93, has been in control of Zimbabwe since it threw off white minority rule in 1980.

However, the power struggle over who might succeed him, between his wife Grace Mugabe and her rival, former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has split the ruling Zanu-PF party in recent months.

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

UK ‘to pay’ Iran £400m, denies jailed mum link

KYC360 News

The United Kingdom is preparing to transfer £400 million in frozen money to Iran as payment for a decades-long debt, according to media reports, amid suggestions the move will also serve as a “goodwill suggestion” to free a British mother jailed in Tehran.

The £400 million is understood to be part of a £650 million payment that Iran made to the UK regarding a 1970s arms deal.

However, only part of the goods were delivered when the then government was toppled in 1979 and the new regime cancelled the order.

Britain was meant to have refunded Iran the balance, but has reportedly been held back by sanctions, which have stretched over many years; government lawyers are said to be working out a way to process the payment without violating EU and US sanctions.

KYC360 approached both the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) and Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation for clarification on the matter.

Neither departments denied the reports, but both the FCO and Treasury (on behalf of OFSI) issued a statement saying:

“This is a longstanding case and relates to contracts signed over 40 years ago with the pre-revolution Iranian regime.

“Funding to settle the debt was paid to the High Court by the Treasury and IMS in 2002. Iran’s Ministry of Defence remains subject to EU sanctions.”

“It is wrong to link a completely separate debt issue with any other aspect of our bilateral relationship with Iran.”

The UK’s reported gesture to pay a 40-year old debt at this point in time has stoked suggestions that it is in fact a ploy to smooth relations with Iran, specifically as it seeks the release of jailed Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe.

The British mother-of-one is being held in Iran despite growing calls for her release.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been strongly criticised for incorrectly saying she was teaching journalism in Iran, which the regime now reportedly claims is evidence she is plotting to overthrow the government.

Johnson has since told Parliament that Iran’s Foreign Minister said his [remarks] have had no link to her case.

His gaffe has been a cause of concern, with key figures calling for him to step down.

However, he has been making efforts to improve the situation, including meeting with Nazanin’s husband Richard Ratcliffe.

“The Foreign Secretary concluded [their] meeting by saying that no stone would be left unturned in the case of Mrs Zaghari-Ratcliffe, and that of our other dual nationals detained in Iran,” a FCO statement said of the meeting.

By Irene Madongo

Related:

Trump refuses to certify Iran deal, imposes new sanctions

UK lifts sanctions on key Iranian bank

Iran’s future after new US Sanctions

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

British regulator warns against ‘extremely high-risk’ cryptocurrency CFDs

KYC360 News

The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority has issued a warning against investing in complex financial structures with cryptocurrencies as the underlying investment.

Placing money in contracts for differences (CFDs), such as financial spread bets, could result in money being lost rapidly and price volatility, the FCA said.

“The value of cryptocurrencies, and therefore the value of CFDs linked to them, is extremely volatile,’ said an FCA statement, “they are vulnerable to sharp changes in price due to unexpected events or changes in market sentiment.”

“The value of some cryptocurrencies recently fell by more than 30% in a single day.”

It also stated that charges tend to be significantly higher than for other CFD products – fees can include the spread (the difference between the prices at which a firm offers to buy or sell a CFD position), and funding charges and commissions.

“Cryptocurrency CFDs are an extremely high-risk, speculative investment. You should be aware of the risks involved and fully consider whether investing in cryptocurrency CFDs is appropriate for you,” the regulator said.

Traders of cryptocurrency CFDs have the protections offered by the UK’s financial services regulatory framework, because the FCA regulates CFDs.

However, these protections will not compensate traders for any losses incurred.

Cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies that are not backed by central banks or government.

The FCA has, in line with regulators in other countries, previously warned about the dangers of investing in digital currencies.

In September it issued a statement regarding the risks associated with initial coin offerings (ICO), a digital way of raising funds from the public using a virtual currency.

The FCA highlighted volatility associated with the platform and also the potential for fraud.

“You should only invest in an ICO project if you are an experienced investor, confident in the quality of the ICO project itself (e.g. business plan, technology, people involved) and prepared to lose your entire stake,” the FCA said at the time.

By Irene Madongo

Related topics:

UK: Bitcoin Visa-linked card to hit supermarkets, cash machines

The decline and fall of cryptochina: Beijing bans ICOs and forces exchanges to close

Switzerland: Watchdog launches investigation into initial coin offerings, issues guidance

16 Nov 2017
Published in News

FIFA: $1m bribe paid for Qatar World Cup vote

By Oliver Laughland, Guardian

A senior Fifa official took at least $1m in bribes to vote for Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup, a witness testified in court on Tuesday, as part of a broad investigation into corruption at Fifa.

Julio Grondona, a senior vice-president at Fifa and head of the Argentinian football association until his death in 2014, allegedly told the witness, Alejandro Burzaco, an Argentinian sports marketing executive, that he was owed the money in exchange for his vote, which helped Qatar secure the lucrative tournament.

Qatar’s victory, announced in December 2010 after four rounds of knockout voting by Fifa’s 22-person executive committee in Zurich, has been plagued with allegations of bribery and misconduct.

The sworn testimony, given in a New York City court on Tuesday, is some of the strongest evidence the 2022 vote was tainted.

Related topics

Citigroup receives subpoena in FIFA bribery scandal

Swiss authorities to review suspicious financial activity linked to FIFA World Cups

The curious link between FIFA bribes and Libor rigging

15 Nov 2017
Published in News

Fox, top broadcasters involved in Fifa bribery, says witness

By Oliver Laughland, Guardian

Some of the world’s largest broadcasters, including Fox Sports, were involved in bribe payments to Fifa officials in order to secure the broadcast rights to major South American football tournaments, a key witness in the investigation into corruption at football’s governing body has told a federal court in New York City.

Alejandro Burzaco, the former CEO of Torneos y Competencias, a major sports marketing company based in Argentina, testified that five other companies he had partnered with, including Brazilian network Globo and the Mexican network Grupo Televisa, had bribed Fifa officials during his tenure.

Burzaco gave evidence on the second day of the trial of three former South American football administrators, charged with accepting millions of dollars in bribes.

The hearing is part of a sprawling federal investigation into endemic corruption at Fifa resulting in more than 40 criminal charges filed against football and marketing executives implicated in the global conspiracy.

15 Nov 2017
Published in News

Trial of alleged $4 billion bitcoin laundering mastermind adjourned

By REUTERS

Greece’s Supreme Court adjourned an appeal hearing on Wednesday for the extradition to the United States of a Russian suspected of masterminding a $4 billion bitcoin laundering ring.

Alexander Vinnik is accused of running BTC-e — a digital currency exchange used to trade bitcoin — to facilitate crimes ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking since 2011.

He was arrested on a U.S. warrant in July while on holiday in Greece, and in October a panel of judges cleared his extradition to the United States.

Vinnik denies the charges and has told Greek judges that he was a technical consultant to BTC-e and not its operator.

15 Nov 2017
Published in News

Murder, money laundering in Malta – a challenge for EU

By Francesco Guarascio, REUTERS

The European Union has called very publicly for Malta to bring to justice the killers of a journalist who accused the Mediterranean island’s leaders of profiting from global corruption.

But it has for years been much less vocal — and had little success — in ensuring Malta act to prevent money laundering, according to sources familiar with the work of the Maltese authorities and a Reuters review of EU and Maltese data.

The data show the smallest EU state has been slow to apply international guidelines on naming firms that do not take action against dubious practices, and the number of convictions and sanctions for money laundering has been low.

Malta has also consistently registered fewer reports of “suspect transactions” from banks, casinos and other financial operators than any other EU state, according to the data, despite having a disproportionately large financial sector.

The European Parliament urged the European Commission, the EU’s executive, on Wednesday to investigate Malta’s adherence to the rule of law and voiced “serious concerns” about police independence and international money-laundering on the island.

But criticism of Malta on money laundering — in low-key reports by international supervisory bodies and by anti-corruption campaigner Daphne Caruana Galizia, killed by a car bomb on Oct. 16 — appears so far to have had little impact.

“Malta has sold its sovereignty to dirty money. The European Commission should take a more active role in investigating the condition of rule of law in Malta,” Sven Giegold, a member of European Parliament from Germany’s Greens party who campaigns against financial crime, told Reuters.

He said an international investigator was needed to counter a “culture of impunity and fiddling between political and economic elites” in Malta.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-malta-carbomb-moneylaundering/murder-and-money-laundering-in-malta-a-challenge-for-eu-idUKKBN1DE2ER

15 Nov 2017
Published in News

India thieves dig 25ft tunnel to rob bank

BBC

Thieves in the western Indian city of Mumbai robbed a government-owned bank after gaining access via a 25ft (8m) tunnel that they dug over four months.

The police told the BBC that cash and jewellery were stolen but the value of the haul is yet to be determined.

Authorities believe the group rented a space next to the Bank of Baroda so they could dig the tunnel.

They are said to have run a grocery shop on the premises to provide cover for their activities.

The suspected thieves have been missing since the robbery on Saturday night.

It is not clear how the men managed to dig the tunnel for months without arousing suspicion.

15 Nov 2017
Published in News

UK: Brexit secretary seeks transition deal ‘early 2018’

BBC

David Davis has moved to reassure the City in a speech at the bank UBS.

He said he hoped to get agreement on a time limited Brexit implementation period “very early next year”.

The Brexit Secretary stressed it depends on the EU negotiators obtaining a mandate to agree it but if he can achieve that, that would be very welcome news for many businesses.

It may still be too late for some who have begun to trigger contingency plans and don’t intend to mothball them.

The City is also very concerned about the mobility of its workforce around Europe and Davis had some new thoughts on that.

In his speech on Tuesday he said: “We want to ensure that our new partnership with the EU protects the mobility of workers and professionals across the continent.

“Whether this means a bank temporarily moving a worker to an office in Germany or a lawyer visiting a client in Paris, we believe it is in the interests of both sides to see this continue.”

15 Nov 2017
Published in News

Bermuda: Money laundering fears in betting shops

By Sam Strangeways, Royal Gazette

A lack of regulation for betting shops could raise red flags when the island’s anti-money laundering measures are investigated by overseas experts next year.

Correspondence shared with The Royal Gazette reveals that warnings about the absence of controls to prevent dirty-money transactions within the betting industry have been made to Bermuda’s leaders, including David Burt, the Premier, as well as to the Government’s National Anti-Money Laundering Committee.

Mr Burt told this newspaper in response to questions that “Bermuda must assess the money-laundering risks within the betting sector to determine if anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist funding laws need to be put in place.”

He admitted legislation governing betting shops was “outdated” and under review, adding that the Government would “update the framework for the licensing of bookmakers and betting agents, taking into account the risks presented by this sector”.

A source claimed the Government should have heeded the warnings sooner.