23 Mar 2017
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UK: FCA sends warning over fake emails from regulator

The FCA has sent out a warning over fake emails from scammers pretending to be the regulator.

In a note on its website, the FCA said that it had identified three separate emails using three separate fake FCA email addresses which had been sent not by the regulator, but by other parties.

The regulator advises anyone who received the emails to delete them without reading.

The note reads: “We are aware that an email has been sent which appears to be from fca.updates@fca.org.uk. This email was not sent by the FCA and recipients should delete the email without opening.

23 Mar 2017
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Van Gogh paintings worth millions back on display 14 years after museum heist

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam has welcomed home two paintings by the Dutch master, more than 14 years after they were ripped off the museum’s wall in a night-time heist.

“They’re back,” said museum director Axel Rueger. He called their return one of the “most special days in the history of our museum”.

The paintings, the 1882 View of the Sea at Scheveningen and 1884-85 work Congregation leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen were discovered last year by Italian police investigating suspected Italian mobsters for cocaine trafficking. The works have never been sold, so their value is unknown – but Van Gogh landscape paintings have sold for £50m at auctions.

23 Mar 2017
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China’s ZTE joins an unwanted club of US sanctions busters

ZTE Corp, China’s largest listed telecommunications equipment supplier, earlier this month joined the unenviable fraternity of companies that paid stiff penalties after pleading guilty to breaching the United States’ longstanding sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

The company was slapped with a total penalty of US$1.2 billion on March 8, becoming the first technology company alongside some of the world’s largest banks as the biggest US sanctions busters to settle with Washington.

22 Mar 2017
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G20 finance chiefs agree on concerted effort to fight financial crime

In a concerted effort, G20 finance chiefs have pledged to jointly fight cyber-attacks on the global banking system in response to the theft of $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh in 2016. The agreement is set to be finalised on Saturday.

Meeting in German resort town Baden-Baden, the money-men of the G20 have agreed that  regardless of the origin of the attack, they will assist each other in fighting off attacks, promising cross-border cooperation to maintain financial stability.

22 Mar 2017
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Russian mafia boss still at large after FBI wiretap at Trump Tower

There, indeed, was an FBI wiretap involving Russians at Trump Tower.

But it was not placed at the behest of Barack Obama, and the target was not the Trump campaign of 2016. For two years ending in 2013, the FBI had a court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on a sophisticated Russian organized crime money-laundering network that operated out of unit 63A in Trump Tower in New York.

The FBI investigation led to a federal grand jury indictment of more than 30 people, including one of the world’s most notorious Russian mafia bosses, Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. Known as the “Little Taiwanese,” he was the only target to slip away, and he remains a fugitive from American justice.

22 Mar 2017
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Trump’s ex-campaign chief accused of money laundering in Ukraine

A Ukrainian lawmaker accused Monday Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, of trying to hide and launder a US$750,000 consultancy payment he received from the disgraced former president Viktor Yanukovych.

“This is money stolen from Ukrainian citizens and has been paid to Manafort for [his work] with our former corrupt president,” Serhiy Leshchenko, the member of parliament who presented the invoice to the public, told Radio Free Europe.

“This corruption must be exposed,” he demanded.

22 Mar 2017
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Article – Dramatic Kenyan bribery law underscores the new reality: Washington and London have no monopoly on talking tough

Many compliance professionals have traditionally used the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977 (USA) and the Bribery Act 2010 (UK) as their lodestar for designing anti-bribery systems and responses. If something was good enough to comply with US or UK law, they thought, it would probably be fine everywhere else. Kenya’s new Bribery Act, which pairs onerous obligations with severe penalties, may mark the start of a new era in which developing countries pass and enforce anti-bribery laws that are far more stringent than those in “traditional” compliance jurisdictions.

Public concern about bribery is on the rise in Kenya. In April 2016, a residential building in Nairobi collapsed, killing a number of occupants. Immediately, ordinary Kenyans and politicians alike blamed corrupt local government officials for allowing the unsafe building to continue to be occupied. With a general election scheduled for August 2017, the President and government are keen to send a message about bribery.

22 Mar 2017
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City minister Simon Kirby tells MPs money laundering is too big an issue for one country alone to tackle

The City minister today stressed money laundering is too big and too global a problem to be tackled by the UK on its own.

Answering an urgent question raised in the House of Commons, Simon Kirby said: “Domestic changes alone aren’t enough in a world of global criminal networks, and that’s why we are working closely with our international partners to stand up to this threat together.”

He also defended the UK’s banking industry, commenting of those in the sector “the vast majority of those work hard, do a good job”.

22 Mar 2017
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Russia accused of hindering UK money laundering investigations

Britain is struggling to stop vast sums of potentially criminal money entering the country because investigators are being hampered by the Russian authorities, the head of the National Crime Agency money laundering unit has said.

In an interview with the Guardian, David Little said: “The amount of Russian money coming into the UK is a concern. “One, because of the volume. Two, we don’t know where it is coming from. We don’t have enough cooperation [from the Russian side] to establish that. They won’t tell us whether it comes from the proceeds of crime.”

22 Mar 2017
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UK: Scotland Yard faces inquiry over handling of Tower Hamlets mayoral election corruption case

The official police watchdog is expected to launch an inquiry into how Scotland Yard dropped a criminal investigation into an east London election, despite a judge having ruled it involved “alarming” levels of corruption and illegality.

In 2015, in a damning 200-page High Court judgement, Lutfur Rahman’s victory in the 2014 Tower Hamlets mayoral election was declared void.

22 Mar 2017
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UK betting industry exempted from punishing AML directive

The UK bookmaking industry has been exempted by the country’s Treasury from the new Fourth EU Money Laundering Directive, thus escaping the onerous and expensive fate of conducting due diligence on every transaction of €2,000 (£1,740 / $2,150) and above.

As the industry breathed a heavy sigh of relief, the government said the decision had been made after consultation with UK’s National Risk Assessment (NRA), which deemed betting, both online and off, to be low-risk in comparison with other sectors. Both land-based and online casinos, however, will not be exempted.

22 Mar 2017
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Not scared of US sanctions: North Korean envoy

North Korea has nothing to fear from any US move to broaden sanctions aimed at cutting it off from the global financial system and will pursue “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programmes, a Pyongyang envoy told Reuters on Tuesday.

This includes developing a “pre-emptive first strike capability” and an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), said Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the DPRK (North Korean) mission to the United Nations in Geneva.

22 Mar 2017
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Wall Street should avoid cutting foreign bank ties: U.S. regulator

U.S. banks should not cut ties with foreign clients over money- laundering worries unless officials have concrete cause for concern, a leading U.S. regulator is telling staff and lenders.

The message has come through phone calls, speeches and an uncommon notice from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the top regulator for national banks, banking and regulatory sources said.

A four-page memorandum sent to bank examiners last month said foreign lenders and their customers are hurt when Wall Street turns its back.

22 Mar 2017
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French authorities join the UK’s Serious Fraud Office in Airbus fraud and corruption investigation

French authorities have opened their own investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption at Airbus, joining Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which launched an inquiry in August.

The Parquet National Financier and the SFO will “act in coordination” going forward as they look into the allegations in the civil aviation business of Airbus Group relating to irregularities concerning third party consultants.

21 Mar 2017
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UK: FCA part of sweeping gov’t audit of financial crime agencies

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is being scrutinised by a government audit, alongside a number of other agencies focused on preventing scams and economic crime.

According to the Financial Times the FCA is one of a number of agencies being looked at, including the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue & Customs and the Competition and Markets Authority as well as police forces that have financial crime specialism such as the City of London police.

21 Mar 2017
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UK: Rise in red-tape feared ahead of government launch of anti-money laundering watchdog

The government announced last week that it will introduce a new watchdog called the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) alongside updated Money Laundering Regulations.

Simon Kirby, economic secretary to the Treasury, said the new division, to operate within the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) by the beginning of next year, will “bring the UK’s anti-money laundering regime into line with the latest international standards”.

21 Mar 2017
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Hong Kong’s currency issuing processed money laundered by Russian criminals

All three of Hong Kong’s currency issuing banks allegedly processed money linked to a vast money laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to both the Russian government and the KGB, investigative journalism platform the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) has reported.

US$717 million passed through the Bank of China in Hong Kong, Macau and mainland China, US$545 million passed through HSBC around the world, and US$29 million passed through Standard Chartered in Hong Kong, the OCCRP said.

US$51 million was processed by Hang Seng Bank in Hong Kong and mainland China, the OCCRP said.

21 Mar 2017
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UK Government to set up new anti-money laundering watchdog

The Government is to set up a new watchdog to close loopholes used by criminals as part of a wider clampdown on money laundering and terrorist financing.

It plans to launch the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) – a new group that will sit within the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – by the start of next year. It comes as the Government moves to introduce new, stricter money laundering regulations that it said would ensure the UK meets the latest global standards.

21 Mar 2017
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The Global Laundromat: how did it work and who benefited?

The Laundromat is a name given by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project to a vast money-laundering scheme. Between autumn 2010 and spring 2014 Russian officials and insiders moved billions of dollars into Europe, the US and other countries. Law enforcement officers in Moldova and Latvia have tracked down at least $20bn in dirty money. They believe the real total may be as high as $80bn. Not all of those involved in the Laundromat have been identified.

21 Mar 2017
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Video: how accountants and solicitors can detect and prevent money laundering

Crime pays, but law enforcement organisations around the world are making it increasingly difficult for organised criminals to bring their ill-gotten gains into the economy. As a result, criminals are turning to professional services firms for help – whether the firm knows it or not.

When it comes to laundering money, the deception or corruption of trusted professionals is essential to a criminal’s success. Indeed, serious and organised crime costs the UK economy an estimated £24bn annually, with much of that amount needing to be laundered before it can be spent.

21 Mar 2017
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Brazil’s corruption inquiry list names all the power players – except the president

“Who is on the list?” The question has obsessed Brazilian politicians for months as the country awaited the latest, greatest set of targets in the country’s burgeoning Lava Jato (“Car Wash”) corruption investigation.

The answer, apparently leaked this week by the attorney general, Rodrigo Janot, or his staff, is almost everyone who has had any power over the past 10 to 20 years – with the mysterious exception of President Michel Temer.

But by accusing nearly the entire political class, the investigation may well become weaker as well as more sweeping.

21 Mar 2017
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New York attorney general hires top corruption prosecutor to investigate Donald Trump

A leading corruption prosecutor has been appointed to investigate Donald Trump and his administration by the state of New York.

Eric Schneiderman, the state’s attorney general and an outspoken critic of the Republican president, has brought in Howard Master to work on ongoing and future cases relating to Mr Trump and his team.

Mr Master previously worked under the Manhattan US Attorney and is considered one of the top corruption prosecutors in the US.

21 Mar 2017
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British banks handled vast sums of laundered Russian money

Britain’s high street banks processed nearly $740m from a vast money-laundering operation run by Russian criminals with links to the Russian government and the KGB, the Guardian can reveal.

HSBC, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds, Barclays and Coutts are among 17 banks based in the UK, or with branches here, that are facing questions over what they knew about the international scheme and why they did not turn away suspicious money transfers.

20 Mar 2017
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Brexit Britain must match the EU’s tough new regulations on conflict minerals

Last week, the European Parliament passed a landmark piece of legislation ensuring proper and effective regulation of minerals imported into the EU.

It aims to break the real and demonstrable link between the increasing demand for these precious materials — used in a wide range of everyday electronic products — and the financing of armed conflict around the world.

In places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, armed groups and corrupt regimes are profiting from the mining of minerals, destabilising already-weak states and dangerously hindering the prospects for peace and sustainable development.

20 Mar 2017
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G20 review of banking rules – no rollback of regulation

Finance leaders of the world’s top economies have agreed to review banking rules, but this does not automatically mean hard-fought financial market regulation will be rolled back, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann told Reuters on Sunday.

The new U.S. administration has argued that excessive bank regulation is holding back lending and economic growth, raising the prospect that rules could be loosened, putting efforts to finalize a new global banking accord, known as Basel III, at risk.

20 Mar 2017
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EU trade sanctions on the Philippines loom

President Duterte’s latest threat to declare martial law in Mindanao has sparked further concerns in the European Union, this amid strong signals that his war on drugs and other anticrime measures that his administration is doggedly pushing for, like the death penalty, could have an adverse effect on EU-Philippine trade relations.

Last March 9 in Davao City, speaking to about 300 local officials from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and central and northern Mindanao, Mr. Duterte raised the specter of martial law again, directing them to work with the police and help him fight terrorism and other forms of violence so that he would not have to resort to extraordinary measures to bring law and order in Mindanao.

20 Mar 2017
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Taiwan launches AML watchdog

A newly revised Money Laundering Control Act was passed by the Legislature in January and will come into effect on June 28.

The agency is designed to improve the government’s AML supervision.

It will also coordinate policies to meet various challenges from growing international terrorist activities to drug trafficking, according to the report.

20 Mar 2017
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Australia: Tabcorp hit with $35M fine in money laundering probe

Australian betting operator Tabcorp has been officially ordered to pay $35 million (A$45 million) for breaching anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

Several weeks ago, the Sydney-based company agreed to settle with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), after it found that Tabcorp failed to comply with the government’s Anti-Money laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act (AML/CTF) for a total of 108 times over five years.

The Federal Court approved the settlement last week. The fine is believed to be the highest civil penalty imposed in Australian corporate history.

20 Mar 2017
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Note ban too weak and misdirected to root out corruption, says Austrian economist

Describing demonetisation as an attempt ‘akin to striking a rock with an egg’, eminent Austrian economist Heinz D Kurz has said it is ‘much too weak and misdirected an instrument’ to root out corruption. Actually, he said, the Indian government’s move opened up new avenues of corruption.

“As far as I understand the situation, the policy of demonetisation has already been abandoned by the government, because it turned out to be an attempt akin to striking a rock with an egg.

17 Mar 2017
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French authorities join the UK’s Serious Fraud Office in Airbus fraud and corruption investigation

French authorities have opened their own investigation into allegations of fraud, bribery and corruption at Airbus, joining Britain’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) which launched an inquiry in August.

The Parquet National Financier and the SFO will “act in coordination” going forward as they look into the allegations in the civil aviation business of Airbus Group relating to irregularities concerning third party consultants.