25 Apr 2018
Published in News

UK urges improved approach to combat money laundering

Britain has called on the international community to refine its approach to tackle corruption, with Chancellor Philip Hammond urging the world’s top economies to tighten the screws on dirty cash, which he says is being used to fund rogue regimes.

“We must shine a light into the darkest corners of global finance, crackdown on corrupt cash and ensure that as terrorists and criminals become ever more sophisticated, the international community stays one step ahead,” Hammond said.

Hammond’s announcement, made ahead of G7 and IMF meetings, emphasised the need for more effective sanctions regimes, and the need for banks to be on alert.

He also said the The UK will be increasing the size of its Treasury sanctions unit by almost 20% to nearly 40%.

The unit, called the Office for Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), detects and investigates breaches of sanctions.

“International sanctions are an effective defence against illegal behaviour, but criminals and regimes can adapt. The international community must now refine its approach to tackling corruption, which costs the global economy $2.6 trillion,” a UK Treasury statement said.

Photo: EU2017EE Estonia Presidency

Read more:

UK uses Criminal Finances Act to seize $500 million from HSBC account

Confessions of a compliance officer: Do you trust overseas colleagues’ KYC work? Guess what …

EU parliament endorses key changes to anti-money laundering rules

25 Apr 2018
Published in News

Trump says North Korean leader Kim has been ‘very honourable’

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had been “very honorable” and wanted to meet with Trump as soon as possible.

Trump, who made the comments to reporters during a meeting with French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron at the White House, has said a planned meeting with Kim could take place in late May or June.

– Reuters – article link.

* * * * *

Trump warns Iran against restarting nuclear program

AP — Weighing withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, President Donald Trump declared on Tuesday that if the Iranians “restart their nuclear program, they will have bigger problems than they’ve ever had before.”

Trump issued his warning alongside French President Emmanuel Macron in the Oval Office, where the two allies were to discuss the multinational nuclear accord, the war in Syria and other issues during a day of meetings at the White House.

Trump also informed Macron and his TV audience that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wanted to meet “as soon as possible.” The president, who once derided Kim as “Little Rocket Man,” said the North Korean dictator had been “very open” and “very honorable” so far.

Macron told Trump that together the U.S. and France would defeat terrorism, curtail weapons of mass destruction in North Korea and Iran and act together on behalf of the planet, a reference to Macron’s work to revive a U.S. role in the Paris climate accord.

As for Iran, Trump was asked if might be willing to stay in the accord. He replied, “People know my views on the Iran deal. … It’s insane, it’s ridiculous. It should have never been made.”

One of Macron’s main objectives during his three-day visit to Washington is to persuade Trump to stay in the accord. Trump remains publicly undecided but reminded his French counterpart of what he sees as flaws in the agreement, which he said fails to address ballistic missiles or Iran’s activities in Yemen or Syria.

AP – article link.

Read more:

Confessions of a compliance officer: Do you trust overseas colleagues’ KYC work? Guess what …

US bans Chinese bank over North Korea sanctions, money laundering

2018 Identity fraud study: $17 billion lost to criminals

24 Apr 2018
Published in News

EU to check on money laundering moves in Malta, journalist’s murder

The European Union’s justice commissioner said on Monday she will visit Malta in the coming weeks to look at its anti-money laundering moves and check on how an investigation is going into the murder of an investigative journalist.

Her visit will increase pressure on the EU member after the European Parliament expressed “serious concerns” about police independence and international money-laundering on the island in a resolution adopted last year..

The resolution was adopted after Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, an anti-corruption campaigner, was killed in October by a car bomb. (reut.rs/2EYpxlB)

Commissioner Vera Jourova said she planned to go to Malta by June to discuss “several” open issues with the authorities.

Her decision came as a group of local and international media groups, including Reuters, began following up stories covered by Caruana Galizia, in an initiative called the Daphne Project.

Malta, together with other EU states, faces a sanction procedure for its delay in adopting new EU rules against money laundering.

Jourova said she wanted to address this issue in her forthcoming visit and also the strengthening of the Maltese agency to tackle money laundering, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

– By Francesco Guarascio, Reuters, 23 April 2018

Link here to the Reuters article.

Read more:

Money laundering: EU outlines new measures on bank registers, cross-border access

EU announces new whistleblower protection rules

UK anti-money laundering (AML) – Hot topics for 2018

24 Apr 2018
Published in News

US won’t ease sanctions without action by NKorea on nukes

AP — The White House said Monday North Korea won’t get sanctions relief until it takes “concrete action” toward denuclearization, the goal of President Donald Trump’s planned summit with Kim Jong Un.

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ comments appeared to leave open the possibility of easing the U.S.-led “maximum pressure” campaign before North Korea had completely given up its nuclear weapons.

But Sanders said the U.S. wouldn’t make the mistake of past administrations in taking the North Koreans “simply at their word.” She said, “We’ve seen some steps in the right direction but we have a long way to go.”

On Saturday, North Korea announced it will close its nuclear testing facility and suspend nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests — a move welcomed by Trump as “big progress.”

The North stopped short of suggesting it will give up its nuclear weapons or scale back its production of missiles and their related components.

Asked if the suspension of tests was a positive sign, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Monday, “Right now, I think there (are) a lot of reasons for optimism that the negotiations will be fruitful and we’ll see.”

This Friday, U.S.-allied South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Kim will hold a summit in the demilitarized zone between the Koreas that could lay the ground for Trump’s planned meeting with the North Korean dictator in May or early June.

The leaders of the U.S. and North Korea have never met during six decades of hostility since the Korean War.

Read more:

Analysis: The ‘stunning’ Criminal Finances Act, HSBC and the billion dollar fraud

US imposes sanctions on oligarchs and Russian officials

Quick take: understanding the EU’s sanctions against Russia

24 Apr 2018
Published in News

HBOS whistleblower says Barclays case tells others ‘don’t bother’

British whistleblowers will be less likely to speak out, now that the chief executive of Barclays has been allowed to keep his job after trying to unmask an informant at the bank, another whistleblower and the head of a support group said on Friday.

Jes Staley (BARC.L) escaped with a fine on Friday after a year-long investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority into his conduct.

Staley had twice tried to find out who wrote a letter raising “concerns of a personal nature” about an unnamed senior employee at Barclays.

“I probably wouldn’t bother now,” said Paul Moore, who blew the whistle on Lloyds Banking Group’s (LLOY.L) ill-fated takeover of troubled rival HBOS in 2008. “It gives a very clear signal to whistleblowers not to bother.”

The investigation of Staley was considered the first big test of the “senior managers regime”, set up to hold top bankers accountable after few were punished for their roles in bank collapses during the financial crisis, and initiatives to encourage and protect whistleblowers.

“Whistleblowers around the financial services sector, I’m sure, would have been watching this and making a decision as to whether or not they feel safe and protected, and able therefore to make their disclosures,” said Georgina Halford-Hall, chief executive of Whistleblowers UK.

She added that she feared the outcome would deter them from speaking out.

– Emma Rumney, Reuters, 20 April 2018

Link to the Reuters article.

Read more:

EU announces new whistleblower protection rules

Barclays fined $2 billion over US fraud claims

New head of UK Serious Fraud Office selected

24 Apr 2018
Published in News

EU announces new whistleblower protection rules

The European Commission has publshed plans to protect workers who blow the whistle on a wide range of EU law breaches, including money laundering, terrorist funding and financial services legislation.

Currently, protection given to whistleblowers across the EU is fragmented and uneven, with only 10 EU Member States ensuring that whistleblowers are fully protected.

Under the new proposals, firms with over 50 employees or with an annual turnover of over €10 million will have to set up an internal procedure to handle whistleblowers’ reports.

The new law will also cover all government, regional administrations and municipalities with over 10,000 residents.

According to the Commission, the protection mechanisms [that will have to be set up] must include:

  • Clear reporting channels, within and outside of the organisation, ensuring confidentiality;
  • A three tier reporting system of:
  • Internal reporting channels;
  • Reporting to competent authorities – if internal channels do not work or could not reasonably be expected to work (for example where the use of internal channels could jeopardise the effectiveness of investigative actions by the authorities responsible);
  • Public/media reporting – if no appropriate action is taken after reporting through other channels, or in case of imminent or clear danger to the public interest or irreversible damage;
  • Feedback obligations for authorities and companies, who will have to respond and follow-up to the whistleblowers’ reports within 3 months for internal reporting channels;

There is also a clause banning the retaliation against whistleblowers:

“If a whistleblower suffers retaliation, he or she should have access to free advice and adequate remedies (for example measures to stop workplace harassment or prevent dismissal).

“The burden of proof will be reversed in such cases, so that the person or organisation must prove that they are not acting in retaliation against the whistleblower,” the Commission explained.

“Whistleblowers will also be protected in judicial proceedings, in particular through an exemption from liability for disclosing the information,” it added.

Read more:

Confessions of a compliance officer: Do you trust overseas colleagues’ KYC work? Guess what …

EU Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD) – Expert analysis of new EU measures

Barclays CEO probed for trying to unmask whistleblower – what you need to know

24 Apr 2018
Published in News

Australia vows crackdown on corporate misconduct as bank inquiry claims AMP scalp

An Australian inquiry into financial sector misconduct claimed its first scalp on Friday as the CEO of the country’s largest wealth manager stepped down over revelations of board-level deception and misappropriation of funds.

The departure of AMP Ltd’s (AMP.AX) Craig Meller came as the government vowed to double prison terms for financial crimes, dramatically increase penalties and ramp up the investigative powers of the corporate regulator following shocking admissions of misconduct to the Royal Commission inquiry.

Not only has the start of the year-long inquiry been a publicity disaster for Australia’s major lenders, it has also put the conservative government – which had initially opposed a commission despite years of scandals including rate-rigging and alleged money-laundering – in a tight spot.

Faced with daily revelations of wrongdoing at the highest levels of corporate Australia, the government is now under mounting pressure to extend the inquiry beyond its February 2019 deadline, meaning it would run concurrently with the next federal election.

Treasurer Scott Morrison, who once dismissed opposition calls for a Royal Commission as “crass populism”, on Friday said the government would raise criminal penalties for corporate crimes to a maximum of 10 years in jail, from 5 years currently.

Offending companies would face fines up to A$210 million ($162 million), versus A$10 million now. Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) would get the power to intercept internal communications of companies if necessary, Morrison said.

“They are not victimless crimes,” Morrison told a press conference. “We need to set the tone … so people understand that misleading regulators about serious issues such as this is no victimless offence, and it won’t carry a victimless penalty.”

The changes were the result of years of planning and were not a knee-jerk reaction to the inquiry, he said.

“PERSONALLY DEVASTATED”

AMP executives admitted in testimony this week that the company had lied to the corporate watchdog for almost a decade to cover a practice of charging customers for services it did not provide.

– Reuers, 19 April 2018

Link to Reuters article.

Read more:

Australian bank CBA admits to multiple money laundering failings

EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive: Can banks handle it?

Confessions of a compliance officer: How I handled dodgy demands

24 Apr 2018
Published in News

UK: First property seized in crackdown on paramilitary crime

UK law enforcement agents have seized a property believed to have been purchased with laundered cash under a new initiative to crackdown on paramilitary criminal networks.

Officers from the National Crime Agency, working as part of the Paramilitary Crime Task Force (PCTF) in Northern Ireland, have obtained a Civil Recovery Order by consent over a Newtownabbey property under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (POCA).

The civil recovery investigation related to an alleged member of a paramilitary group, the NCA explained, adding that the owner of the rental property is not believed to be directly involved with group.

The National Crime Agency alleged that the property was understood to have been acquired with the proceeds of mortgage fraud, tax evasion and money laundering.

NCA Branch Commander Billy Beattie said: “This is the first property to be recovered by the PCTF under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Civil recovery and tax will play an integral role in the work of the PCTF.

“These powers are a strong tool in preventing those engaged in criminal activity from benefiting financially or materially from it.”

Read more:

UK: Hatton Garden gang leaders must repay £27.5m, says judge

UK anti-money laundering (AML) – Hot topics for 2018

New UK anti-money laundering ‘mega watchdog’ launches – challenges and key aspects

23 Apr 2018
Published in News

Wells Fargo agrees to pay $1 billion to settle customer abuses

Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) will pay $1 billion to settle with U.S. regulators who say the bank wrongly layered insurance on hundreds of thousands of drivers and routinely hit homebuyers with excessive fees, officials said on Friday.

The penalty was a record from the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and comes more than eighteen months after Wells Fargo admitted it opened sham accounts for customers – a practice that likely ensnared millions.

Wells Fargo said the settlement lowers its first-quarter 2018 net income by 16 cents per share to 96 cents per share. It had flagged a possible settlement when it reported earnings last week and said then it may need to restate results.

The penalty is the first by Mick Mulvaney, whom U.S. President Donald Trump tapped in November as interim head of the CFPB, and fulfills Trump’s vow to come down hard on the country’s third-largest lender.

Mulvaney has worked to dial back the reach of the independent agency, and Reuters has reported the CFPB has dropped cases against at least two payday lenders.

“We will enforce the law,” Mulvaney said in a statement about the Wells Fargo deal. “That is what we did here.”

While the fine will sting Wells Fargo, regulators did offer the bank some relief in the settlement.

The U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), a sister regulator to the CFPB dropped Wells Fargo’s designation as “troubled” which will make it easier for departing employees to collect payouts.

Wells Fargo workers have not been able to collect all their severance without a blessing from regulators ever since a 2016 consent order regarding the phony accounts.

That check was meant to block bonuses for executives who played a part in scandal. But running those checks has taxed OCC staff and delayed payouts for some workers.

Under the agreement, the OCC will still not be able to hire new executives without a sign-off from regulators.

– By Reuters, 20 April 2018

Read more:

Analysis: The ‘stunning’ Criminal Finances Act, HSBC and the billion dollar fraud

Barclays fined $2 billion over US fraud claims

EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive: Can banks handle it?

Categories: Uncategorised
23 Apr 2018
Published in News

Barclays chief Staley survives whistleblowing inquiry with fines

Barclays (BARC.L) said Jes Staley will be fined by British regulators for attempting to unmask a whistleblower, but will be able to keep his job as the bank’s chief executive.

The country’s banking watchdogs concluded Staley’s attempt to find out who wrote a letter raising “concerns of a personal nature” about an unnamed senior employee represented a breach of individual conduct, Barclays said on Friday.

Staley’s case is the first big test of Britain’s “senior managers regime” (SMR), aimed at making top banking officials personally accountable for their actions after few were punished for their roles in bank collapses during the financial crisis.

If Staley accepts the findings of the regulators, it would be the first time that a sitting chief executive of a major bank in Britain has been fined by its regulators. A bank spokesman said the size of the fine had yet to be determined.

Barclays said the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) were “not alleging that he (Staley) acted with a lack of integrity or that he lacks fitness and propriety to continue to perform his role as Group Chief Executive Officer”.

News of the FCA and PRA fines follows a more than year-long probe in Britain that had led to speculation among some investors and bank insiders that Staley could have been forced to step down if deemed unfit to continue by those authorities.

Barclays also said that the FCA and PRA will not take enforcement action against the bank, while authorities in the United States are still investigating the case.

“Staley will live on to fight another day – which we welcome as a positive development for the bank and a relief for shareholders,” John Cronin at Irish broker Goodbody said.

– By Lawrence White, Huw Jones, Reuters, 20 April 2018

Link to the Reuters article.

Read more:

Barclays CEO probed for trying to unmask whistleblower – what you need to know

UK: Banks start immigration checks of account holders in crackdown

UK anti-money laundering (AML) – Hot topics for 2018

23 Apr 2018
Published in News

Sanctions: China’s ZTE says it’s seeking a solution to US tech ban

AP — ZTE Corp., one of China’s biggest tech companies, said Sunday that it is taking steps to comply with a U.S. technology ban and that it is seeking a solution to the issue it says threatens its survival.

The ban on state-owned ZTE was imposed last Monday in a case involving exports of telecoms equipment to Iran and North Korea. U.S. companies are barred from selling technology to ZTE for seven years.

The penalty comes as tensions mount between Beijing and President Donald Trump over technology policy, though the case dates to before Trump took office in January 2017.

ZTE pleaded guilty in March 2017 and agreed to pay a $1.19 billion penalty for having shipped equipment to Iran and North Korea in violation of U.S. regulations. The company promised to discipline employees involved in the scheme, but the U.S. Commerce Department said last week that they were paid bonuses instead.

The company said Sunday in a statement on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange that since 2016, it has “learnt from its past experiences on export control compliance” and “attaches significant importance” to the work.

Read more:

Financial crime prevention in China: 2017 in review

US bans Chinese bank over North Korea sanctions, money laundering

2018 Identity fraud study: $17 billion lost to criminals

23 Apr 2018
Published in News

British regulator outlines accountability rules for asset management sector

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has published a set of new rules for the asset management industry, outlining its stance on accountability rules for top executives.

The FCA had previously stated that it would consult on a new specific Prescribed Responsibility (PR) for authorised fund managers (AFMs) as part of its extension of the senior managers and certification regime (SM&CR) across the financial services sector.

“This PR would make clear that a Senior Manager, usually the chair of the board of an AFM, must take reasonable steps to ensure that the firm complies with its obligation to carry out the assessment of value, the duty to recruit independent directors, and the duty to act in the best interests of fund investors,” it explained.

It has now decided to introduce the PR for AFMs.

“We also continue to believe that AFMs should decide for themselves whether to appoint an independent director as chair or not.”

It added that it plans to publish the rest of its final rules for the extension of the SM&CR later this year.

Read more:

UK: FCA issues first serious crime prevention order, bans illegal lender

Unexplained wealth orders: UK working on 100 cases

New head of UK Serious Fraud Office selected

23 Apr 2018
Published in News

Compliance: Arab states finalize regional payment and settlement system

Arab countries have finalised plans to create an independent, regional cross-border payments system after current arrangements were hit by a rise in compliance costs and downsizing by some international banks.

At present, many cross-border payments and settlements among Arab countries are carried out by correspondent banks, which act as agents for foreign financial institutions that do not have a local presence in a given country.

A tightening of anti-money laundering rules by U.S. and European banks in the last several years has added to the cost of this practice, while some banks have quit the market to focus on more lucrative areas.

The board of the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF), which has 22 member countries ranging from Gulf states to Sudan and Morocco, approved the creation of an independent regional body to clear and settle payments among them, the AMF said on Sunday.

By Stanley Carvalho, Reuters, 22 April 2018

Link here to the Reuters article.

Read more:

Confessions of a compliance officer: How I handled dodgy demands

What? Bank directors going about without financial crime training’

Trump refuses to certify Iran deal, imposes new sanctions

23 Apr 2018
Published in News

AML robots: UK regulator highlights use of machines to combat money laundering

The Financial Conduct Authority is to forge ahead with an initiative exploring the use of machines in financial crime programmes, according to its 2018/19 business plan.

The watchdog is looking to host an international event focusing on the machine-led approach in the fight against money laundering, part of its broader goals to tackle fraud and to work closely with law enforcement partners to fight financial crime.

“This year, we will convene an international TechSprint. This will bring together a range of experts to explore whether new technology can be used more effectively to fight financial crime,” it said

“Working in collaboration with others improves intelligence-sharing arrangements to help fight money laundering and financial crime. This leads to more effective and consistent standards and ultimately delivers better outcomes.”

The 2018 event will build on its TechSprint event held last year, which explored the potential for machine readable and executionale regulation.

Following that event, the FCA said that it recognises that regulatory reporting can be a “challenging” subject for financial institutions, and highlighted the usefulness of machines.

“This TechSprint successfully proved that we are able to take a regulatory requirement contained in the FCA Handbook and turn it into a language that machines can understand. Using that language, machines can then execute a regulatory requirement, effectively pulling the required information directly from the firm,” it said.

The FCA’s business plan also outlined key anti-money laundering (AML) developments on the UK scene, including the National Risk Assessment, FATF mutual evaluation and the new Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS), which was established in February 2018.

Another area of interest to the FCA is e-money, and it explained that it is undertaking diagnostic work on money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the e-money sector.

“This is important because if e-money firms have ineffective systems and controls this could undermine confidence and participation in e-money services and the integrity of the financial system. We will share our findings in Q2 2018/19.” the FCA said.

Irene Madongo

Photo: Geralt

Read more:

Biometrics: Challenges and opportunities for anti-money laundering, fraud prevention

Artificial intelligence: Rise of robots could trigger banking risk

EU Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD) – Expert analysis of new EU measures

23 Apr 2018
Published in News

HBOS whistleblower says Barclays case tells others ‘don’t bother’

British whistleblowers will be less likely to speak out, now that the chief executive of Barclays has been allowed to keep his job after trying to unmask an informant at the bank, another whistleblower and the head of a support group said on Friday.

Jes Staley (BARC.L) escaped with a fine on Friday after a year-long investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England’s Prudential Regulation Authority into his conduct.

Staley had twice tried to find out who wrote a letter raising “concerns of a personal nature” about an unnamed senior employee at Barclays.

“I probably wouldn’t bother now,” said Paul Moore, who blew the whistle on Lloyds Banking Group’s (LLOY.L) ill-fated takeover of troubled rival HBOS in 2008. “It gives a very clear signal to whistleblowers not to bother.”

The investigation of Staley was considered the first big test of the “senior managers regime”, set up to hold top bankers accountable after few were punished for their roles in bank collapses during the financial crisis, and initiatives to encourage and protect whistleblowers.

“Whistleblowers around the financial services sector, I’m sure, would have been watching this and making a decision as to whether or not they feel safe and protected, and able therefore to make their disclosures,” said Georgina Halford-Hall, chief executive of Whistleblowers UK.

She added that she feared the outcome would deter them from speaking out.

– By Emma , Reuters, 20 April 2018

Link here to the Reuters article.

Read more:

Barclays fined $2 billion over US fraud claims

New head of UK Serious Fraud Office selected

New head of UK Serious Fraud Office selected

20 Apr 2018
Published in News

Spain’s High Court investigates Caixabank for alleged money laundering

Spain’s High Court on Thursday placed Caixabank under formal investigation over allegations that the Spanish bank was involved in laundering almost 100 million euros ($123.80 million) for alleged Chinese criminals.

The court said in a written ruling that the investigation stemmed from a separate investigation into China’s largest bank, ICBC, which allegedly laundered hundreds of millions of euros for Chinese organised crime groups in Spain through its Madrid branch.

A Caixabank spokesman said the bank, Spain’s third largest, denied collaborating with the alleged money launderers or participating in the alleged scheme. An ICBC spokesman in Spain did not immediately respond to a request for comment, though the bank has previously denied any wrongdoing.

The court said Caixabank employees at ten branches in Madrid helped suspected Chinese criminals transfer 99 million euros ($122.48 million) to China and Hong Kong between 2013 and 2015 partly via corresponding banking agreements with ICBC.

The Caixabank employees made the transfers with the “knowledge and collaboration of the top official in charge of compliance at the entity,” the court said. The official’s name was redacted in the written ruling.

“Caixabank did not implement the necessary anti-money laundering controls, despite knowing the risks,” the judge said in the court ruling, adding that the bank did not properly alert Spain’s financial intelligence unit to suspicious transfers.

– By Anggus Berwick, Jesús Aguado, Reuters, 19 April 2018

Link here to the Reuters article.

Read more:

UK anti-money laundering (AML) – hot topics for 2018

Confessions of a compliance officer: How I handled dodgy demands

US seeks to sanction Latvian bank ABLV over money laundering

20 Apr 2018
Published in News

UK: HMRC faces grilling over ‘reluctance’ to raid Lycamobile

HMRC bosses are set to appear before a parliamentary committee over allegations the organisation was reluctant to raid Lycamobile because it was a major donor to the Conservative party.

A spokesman for the Treasury Select Committee said it will speak to top officials from the UK’s tax office about the matter.

French prosecutors approached HMRC for assistance regarding their probe into money laundering and tax fraud issues concerning the telecoms firm, however, they were ‘stonewalled’ by HMRC, a BuzzFeed News investigation said.

An HMRC enforcement team official said in a letter to the French that Lycamobile is “a large multinational company” and would be “extremely unlikely to agree to having their premises searched”.

The letter, seen by BuzzFeed, also said : “It is of note that they are the biggest corporate donor to the Conservative party led by Prime Minister Theresa May and donated 1.25m Euros to the Prince Charles Trust in 2012.”

When asked to comment on the BuzzFeed report, an HMRC spokesman said: “HMRC always investigates suspected rule breaking professionally and objectively and is never influenced by political considerations.”

According to HMRC, the facts about political donations “were contained as background information only and did not have any influence on our decision making process.”

Lycamobile denies the BuzzFeed allegations.

Commenting, Robert Barrington, Executive Director of Transparency International UK, said: “HMRC must now make clear the exact reasons why they refused the request of their French colleagues, and should re-consider whether an investigation of their own is appropriate given that many of the alleged offences took place in the UK.”

“As the UK moves closer to Brexit it must demonstrate that it will uphold the rule of law, rather than offer impunity to the highest bidder. The government must also reflect on whether it is offering the right tone to HMRC and other institutions.”

Read more:

HSBC: $500 million returned to Angola after fraud alert, UK intervention

Money laundering: EU outlines new measures on bank registers, cross-border access

SFO charges Barclays Plc and four executives with fraud

20 Apr 2018
Published in News

Malta court rejects bid to release men accused of killing journalist

Three men accused of the murder of an anti-corruption journalist six months ago must stay in prison until their trial, a Maltese magistrate ruled on Thursday.

Brothers Alfred Degiorgio and George Degiorgio and Vince Muscat were arrested in early December, after a car bomb killed Daphne Caruana Galizia as she drove out of her home on Oct. 16.

They have pleaded not guilty, and their lawyers argued they should be freed until a date for their trial is set.

The court rejected the request, citing the seriousness of the crime, protection of public order and a risk that the accused might commit other crimes.

The decision came as a group of local and international media groups, including Reuters, began following up stories covered by Caruana Galizia, in an initiative called the Daphne Project.

On Thursday, Maltese Economy Minister Chris Cardona denied he met one of the murder suspects in a bar in Siggiewi, in the south of Malta.

Some of the Project journalists reported such a meeting, citing a secret recording of a witness at the bar and another anonymous source. Reuters did not report the allegations and has not verified those claims.

– Chris Scicluna, Stephen Grey, Reuters, 19 April 2018

20 Apr 2018
Published in News

UK Serious Fraud Office announces changes to its funding arrangements

Britain’s Serious Fraud Office will have its funding increased under new changes to its financing model, which has been previously criticised.

The agency’s core funding is set to rise to £52.7 million from £34.3m, and its blockbuster funding will no longer have internal ring fencing, allowing it to move staff between cases.

The SFO “will be able to focus on substantially reducing reliance on temporary personnel and will be able to reallocate staff between cases as the work requires.” it said in a statement.

“Instead of applying for separate funding for the full cost of any case forecast to cost more than 5% of the core funding, blockbuster funding will cover spend in excess of £2.5m on any single case in a given year,” it explained.

The changes come after HM Chief Inspector of the CPS’s 2016 report, which stated that: “Further consideration should be given to pursue a change to the funding model in order to build future SFO capability and provide better value for money.”

Read more:

New head of UK Serious Fraud Office selected

UK: Barclays faces new Qatar charge from Serious Fraud Office

UK uses Criminal Finances Act to seize $500 million from HSBC account

20 Apr 2018
Published in News

Lost home, fees for the dead – Australia banking inquiry hears testimony

An Australian inquiry into the financial services sector heard tearful testimony on Thursday from a nurse who lost her home after taking advice from a major lender, and that the country’s biggest bank knowingly charged dead clients for counsel.

The testimony was among the most personal yet at the Royal Commission that has already resulted in startling admissions of bad behavior by firms. Government data prepared for the inquiry shows over 80,000 consumers have been given bad advice over the past decade, costing them a total A$5 billion ($3.89 billion).

Coverage of the inquiry, initially resisted by Australia’s center-right government, has dominated newspaper front pages, TV chat shows and talk-back radio across the country.

Treasurer Scott Morrison on Wednesday raised the prospect of jail terms for the worst executive offenders, while regulators have flagged tougher oversight and penalties for the biggest sector of the Australian economy.

On Thursday, Jacqueline McDowall, a nurse, told the inquiry she lost her home after she and her truck-driver husband acted on advice from Westpac Banking Corp (WBC.AX).

– Reuters

Link to the Reuters article.

20 Apr 2018
Published in News

UK Regulator: Firms to apply security principles ahead of PSD2 fraud rules

Firms have been advised to adhere to principles of safety and security during the transition period leading to the implementation of customer authentication standards under the Payment Services Directive (PSD2).

The Regulatory Technical Standards on strong customer authentication and common and secure communication are considered a key aspect of PSD2, set to come into force in the second half of 2019.

The standards are designed to provide additional fraud protection by prescribing requirements for firms to ensure greater security.

Speaking at a conference in London, Karina McTeague, the Financial Conduct Authority’s Director of Retail Banking Supervision, said:

“As an important mitigant against fraud and cyber risks during this transition period, firms should adhere to the principles of safety and security from 13 January.

“For example, we expect firms to transmit credentials and data securely and to be transparent and open about their identities when inter-acting with one another.”

Firms should also ensure data is held securely to prevent the risk of illegitimate access, she said.

PSD2, which was launched on 13 January 2018, is an EU Directive aimed at improving consumer protection, making payments more secure and driving down the costs of payment services.

Since the FCA opened its doors for PSD2 applications in October last year, it has received applications from 59 firms for two new regulated activities – account information and payment initiation services, McTeague explained.

19 Apr 2018
Published in News

Iran switches from dollar to euro for official reporting currency

Iran will start reporting foreign currency amounts in euros rather than U.S. dollars, state media said on Wednesday as part of the country’s effort to reduce its reliance on the U.S. currency due to political tension with Washington.

The new policy could encourage government bodies and firms linked to the state to increase their use of the euro at the expense of the dollar.

Central bank governor Valiollah Seif said last week that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had welcomed his suggestion of replacing the dollar with the euro in foreign trade, as the “dollar has no place in our transactions today”.

Tehran has been trying for years to move away from the dollar, although much of the country’s international trade is still conducted in dollars and ordinary Iranians use them for travel and savings.

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to exit a 2015 nuclear deal Iran made with world powers unless it is revised. U.S. sanctions will resume unless Trump issues new “waivers” to suspend them on May 12.

Bank transactions involving the dollar are already difficult for Iran because legal risks make U.S. banks unwilling to do business with Tehran. Foreign firms can be exposed to sanctions if they do Iranian deals in dollars, even if the operations involve non-U.S. branches.

– By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin, Reuters, 18 April 2018

Link to the Reuters story.

Read more:

Money laundering: EU outlines new measures on bank registers, cross-border access

Banker, trader helped Iran evade sanctions – how blacklisted governments launder billions

Sanctions in 2018: Watch out for new Magnitsky method targeting individuals

19 Apr 2018
Published in News

Indonesia seeks to limit cash transactions to fight bribery

Indonesia’s government has proposed a law to parliament to limit cash transactions to curb bribery and money laundering in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, the head of the country’s anti-money laundering watchdog said on Wednesday.

The draft bill, which limits any cash payments to a maximum 100 million rupiah (£5,113), will be assigned as a legislative priority for 2018, said Ki Agus Badaruddin, head of the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK), adding that he hoped the bill can be approved later this year.

“Basically, the assumption is this restriction will reduce the space in which one can commit acts of money laundering and terrorism financing,” said Badaruddin.

No details were given on how such a law could be enforced.

Some 85 percent of transactions in Indonesia are in cash and are harder to track that those done through banks or other electronic channels, making it a challenge for the government to fight money laundering, corruption and terrorism financing.

Badaruddin was quoted by media as saying the PPATK had detected an increase in bribery with most transactions in cash.

PPATK had found more than a thousand suspicious cash transactions that could be related to the upcoming regional elections across Indonesia, versus 53 suspicious transactions done electronically, Tempo.co reported.

– By Maikel Jefriando, Reuters, 18 April 2018

Link to the Reuters story.

Read more:

Money laundering: EU outlines new measures on bank registers, cross-border access

Financial crime prevention in China: 2017 in review

UK uses Criminal Finances Act to seize $500 million from HSBC account

19 Apr 2018
Published in News

EU urges Moldova to hunt down cash from $1 billion fraud

The European Union has called on Moldova to retrieve funds from a one billion dollar banking fraud and bring to book the criminals behind the scam.

In a report discussing the issue of reform in Moldova, amongst other topics, the EU observed that although the country has made some advances, ‘considerably more’ progress is required.

“Further efforts, however, are still needed in particular in order to address high level corruption, recover the misappropriated funds from the one billion dollar banking fraud and bring to justice those responsible for the fraud.

“A thorough reform of the judicial system is also to be addressed,” the EU said.

The notorious banking fraud was pulled off in 2014, involving three banks. Funds worth $1 billion – roughly 13% of Moldova’s GDP – are believed to have been shifted from Moldova to shell firms in the UK and Hong Kong, and then routed into individual bank accounts.

“During the reporting period, investigations on the massive banking fraud (13% of GDP), unveiled in 2014, have touched only upon a limited number of individuals and mainly in the private sector,” the EU said in the report.

“Lost funds have not been recovered, and the full version of the follow-up report on the fraudulent schemes … has not been published (only a summary was published in December 2017) raising doubts on the real will to prosecute this culprit of the fraud.”

Read more:

Gangsters jailed over £37 million copycat website scam

EU Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD) – Expert analysis of new EU measures

Oligarchs, owners of English football clubs on US ‘Putin’ list

19 Apr 2018
Published in News

2018 Identity fraud study: $17 billion lost to criminals

Criminals are continuing to enjoy huge success despite efforts to prevent identity fraud, adapting to net 1.3 million more victims, with the amount stolen rising to $16.8 billion, according to the Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2018 Identity Fraud Survey.

Online shopping presents the greatest fraud opportunity and fraudsters are getting more sophisticated, using more complex schemes.

“One and a half million victims of existing account fraud had an intermediary account opened in their name first. This is 200 percent greater than the previous high,” said Javelin.

The study was conducted online among 5,000 US adults over age 18. Data was collected from November 1-16, 2017.

“With the adoption of EMV (embedded chip) cards and terminals, the types of identity fraud continued to shift online and away from physical stores. The complexity of fraud is also on the rise as criminals are opening more new accounts as a means of compromising accounts consumers already have,” Javelin explained.

Other findings include:

  • Account takeover (ATO) grew significantly, tripling over the past year, reaching a four-year high. ATO losses reached $5.1 billion, with ATO victims paying an average of $290 and spending 15 hours on average resolving fraud.
  • Card-not-present fraud is now 81% more prevalent than point of sale fraud.
  • 6.64 % of consumers became victims of identity fraud, with an increase of over one million victims from the previous year, driven by growth in existing non-card fraud and ATO.

“2017 was a runaway year for fraudsters, and with the amount of valid information they have on consumers, their attacks are just getting more complex,” said Al Pascual, senior vice president, Javelin Strategy & Research.

What’s the difference between identity fraud and identity theft? According to Javelin:

“Identity fraud is the unauthorised use of someone’s personal information for illicit financial gain. Identity fraud ranges from using a stolen payment card account for a fraudulent purchase to opening fraudulent new accounts. Identity theft is unauthorised access to personal information. It can occur without identity fraud, such as through data breaches.”

Read more:

Alleged mastermind behind EUR 1 billion cyber and laundering scam arrested

UK: Banks start immigration checks of account holders in crackdown

Bogus HMRC officials demand payment in iTunes, gift cards

19 Apr 2018
Published in News

Cryptocurrency funds down nearly 30 percent in March

Cryptocurrency funds were down 29.2 percent in March amid an ongoing slump caused by increased scrutiny from global regulators of the virtual assets, according to a new index launched by data provider BarclayHedge.

The Barclay Cryptocurrency Traders Index was down 43.1 percent in the year to date, after three consecutive monthly losses, BarclayHedge said on Wednesday.

The Cryptocurrency Traders Index, started in 2018, is an equal-weighted index of the monthly returns of 19 funds that trade bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Volatile bitcoin hit an all-time high of just under $20,000 in December 2017 and has since fallen to as low as $5,920. On Wednesday, it was up 4.2 percent on the day at $8,232 BTC=BTSP on the BitStamp platform.

Cryptocurrencies have been impacted this year by fears of a crackdown from regulators and concerns that they have been in a speculative bubble that is now deflating.

“Folks have their opinions, but no one really knows if it’s a bubble or a correction,” said Sol Waksman, president and founder of BarclayHedge.

Data from financial technology data tracker Autonomous NEXT also confirm the bear trend.

“There has been a slow-down in ICO (initial coin offering) proceeds that we track ($1 million and over), with a dip in February and a slight pick-up in March in terms of fundraising,” Autonomous NEXT said in a report also published this week.

– By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss, Reuters, 18 April 2018

Read more:

The compliance and KYC link between banks, bitcoin and exchanges

UK: Man ‘accidentally loses $100m in bitcoin,’ officials refuse retrieval

British bank Lloyds bans bitcoin transactions on its credit cards

18 Apr 2018
Published in News

Australia govt says banking executives responsible for misconduct could face jail

Australian Treasurer Scott Morrison warned on Wednesday that financial sector executives responsible for widespread breaches of corporate law could face jail, as a powerful judicial inquiry heard more evidence of misconduct by the country’s top financial institutions.

Morrison’s comments were made after executives for AMP Ltd (AMP.AX), Australia’s largest wealth manager, admitted on Tuesday that employees had lied to the corporate regulator for almost a decade to cover its practice of charging thousands of customers for services they did not provide.

In further testimony to the so-called Royal Commission on Wednesday, AMP executives admitted that it had charged users of online platforms for advice fees despite not receiving the permission required by law.

“What has occurred here and what has been admitted to in the Royal Commission by AMP is deeply disturbing,” Morrison told reporters on Wednesday. “This type of behavior can attract penalties which include jail time.

“That is how serious these things are.”

The government-backed Royal Commission into Australia’s banking sector is just a couple of months into what is expected to be a year-long investigation and public grilling of senior executives in the country’s financial sector.

– By Paulina Duran, Reuters, 18 April 2018

Link here for the Reuters article.

18 Apr 2018
Published in News

Money laundering: EU outlines new measures on bank registers, cross-border access

The European Commission has outlined new measures aimed at providing law enforcement and judicial authorities with wider access to vital evidence and information in financial crime cases.

The rules provide for direct access to bank account information for law enforcement authorities and asset recovery offices, contained in national, centralised registries.

This will enable authorities to identify in which banks a suspect holds accounts, officials say.

Although bank registers are already established by the 4th and 5th EU Anti-Money Laundering Directives, the new proposal widens the access to law enforcement authorities, and also cross-border access, an EU spokesman told KYC360.

“The 5AMLD makes reference to competent authorities but without defining the term. It is up to Member States to decide which authorities to give access. The 5AMLD only obliges accesses for FIUs.

“The new proposal will oblige Member States to give access to law enforcement authorities and asset recovery offices. This does not mean that access to supervisors etc is excluded. This will remain possible under the 5AMLD at the discretion of Member States,” the spokesman explained.

The proposals provide for “better cooperation” between national law enforcement authorities and the national financial intelligence unit (FIU) as well as between Member States, or cross-border access.

“This includes the possibility for law enforcement to request financial information or analysis from FIUs – including data on financial transactions, as well as the possibility for FIUs to request law enforcement information from their competent national authorities,” the EU explained.

The proposals follow on the EUI’s anti-terrorism package, announced in October 2017.

Commissioner for the Security Union Julian King said: “By giving law enforcement access to crucial pieces of financial information, we are closing another loophole being exploited by terrorists, and hitting them where it hurts – their finances.”

Read more:

Q and A : Understanding the new EU measures on bank registers, cross-border access

EU Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (6AMLD) – Expert analysis of new EU measures

EU Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive: Can banks handle it?

18 Apr 2018
Published in News

Castro set to step aside as Cuban president, his reforms incomplete

Most of Camilo Condis’ family emigrated from Communist-run Cuba to the United States seeking a better life, but the 32-year-old decided to stay after Raul Castro became president a decade ago and promised change.

Seeking to make socialism sustainable, Castro introduced some market reforms to the state-run economy and secured a historic detente with the United States. He made it easier for Cubans to travel, allowed them to own property, cellphones and computers, and expanded internet access.

Condis, who graduated university in 2011, the year Castro announced most of the reforms, now makes a decent living in the capital, Havana, working for a restaurant in Cuba’s fledgling private sector, and renting out a flat. He surfs the web daily and has traveled outside the Caribbean island.

But even Condis, who has benefited more than most from the changes, is worried about the future as Castro prepares to step down as president this week and hand off power to a younger generation of Communist leaders.

“I decided I could bet on a good future here,” Condis said on a street buzzing with private cafes and shops, fruit of the changes. “But there is a lot of uncertainty.”

Like most Cubans, his biggest concern is the creaking economy, which remains one-third smaller than in 1985 when it was receiving subsidies from its ally the Soviet Union, according to former Cuban central bank economist Pavel Vidal.

Castro introduced some new social freedoms when he officially took power from his ailing older brother Fidel Castro in 2008, albeit maintaining the one-party system that has a monopoly on the media and little tolerance for public dissent.

On the economy, his government has implemented only a fraction of its planned market reforms, which aimed to deepen an opening Fidel Castro had started following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. It has even backtracked on some.

– By Reuters, 17 April 2018

Link here to the Reuters article.

18 Apr 2018
Published in News

US cryptocurrency billionaire dies in Mexico

Billionaire banking heir Matthew Mellon has died at the age of 54.

Mellon, who made a fortune from digital currencies, is reported to have died at a drug rehabilitation center in Cancun, Mexico.

The former chairman of the finance committee of the Republican Party in New York was an early backer of digital currency XRP, also known as Ripple, according to the BBC.

A representative of the billionaire, quoted in the media, said: “Mellon made his fortune in cryptocurrency, turning a $2m investment into $1bn.”

Mellon comes from the Mellon and Drexel families of Bank of New York Mellon and Drexel Burnham Lambert, the Associated Press explained.

He is survived by his first and second wives, and three children.

18 Apr 2018
Published in News

Ukrainian bank sues PwC for $3 billion over alleged auditing failures

PrivatBank in Ukraine has filed a lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Cyprus and Ukraine, seeking $3 billion in compensation for damages it says it suffered as a result of the auditor’s ‘extensive breaches of duties,’ including failure to identify fraud.

The legal action pertains to PwC’s auditing of PrivatBank’s financial statements for the accounting periods ending December 2013 to December 2015.

Petr Krumphanzl, chairman of the Management Board of PrivatBank, said: “That firm failed absolutely to identify the ongoing operation of the huge fraud within the bank over many years which resulted in virtually the entire corporate loan book of the bank being non-performing [and without any adequate security].”

PwC’s Ukrainian subsidiary said: “We do not believe there is any basis for this action and we will if necessary defend our position vigorously.”

“PwC Ukraine performed its audit of PrivatBank’s 2013-2015 financial statements in accordance with international auditing standards,” it added.

PwC Cyrus said: “PwC Cyprus performed its audit work in accordance with the applicable law and regulations and the international auditing standards. At PwC, we take our professional obligations extremely seriously. We do not believe there is any basis for this action and we will defend our position vigorously.”

17 Apr 2018
Published in News

Backpage.com co-founder released from jail on a $1M bond

AP — A co-founder of the classified advertising site Backpage.com who has been jailed for the last 10 days on charges of facilitating prostitution was released on a $1 million bond Monday as he awaits trial.

At a brief hearing at a federal courthouse in Phoenix, James Larkin was ordered by Magistrate Judge John Boyle to put up two properties as surety on the bond.

Larkin also was ordered to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Larkin, co-founder Michael Lacey and five Backpage.com employees were arrested earlier this month on federal charges.

Larkin was the last of the seven to be released from custody. Lacey was released on Friday after posting a $1 million bond.

An indictment alleges Backpage.com ignored warnings to stop running advertisements promoting prostitution, sometimes involving children, because the site has brought in $500 million on prostitution-related revenues since its inception in 2004.

Authorities say Backpage.com portrays itself as trying to prevent such ads, but investigators have determined the site’s operators have declined to confront the problem.

Employees are accused of helping customers edit their ads to say within legal limits while still encouraging commercial sex.

The indictment alleges Backpage.com started to launder money earned from ad sales a few years ago after banks raised concerns that they were being used for illegal purposes.

Read more:

Alleged mastermind behind EUR 1 billion cyber and laundering scam arrested

UK: Gang laundered cash from fraud victims through bank accounts

What is VAT fraud, and why is the eu worried? – Q & A

17 Apr 2018
Published in News

EU fails to agree new Iran sanctions as Trump deadline nears

The European Union failed to agree new sanctions against Iran on Monday amid Italy’s opposition and fears that punishing Tehran for its missile program and regional role would not stop U.S. President Donald Trump from abandoning a separate nuclear deal.

Speaking on the sidelines of EU foreign ministers’ discussions in Luxembourg, some diplomats said the outcome meant the EU might not make the U.S. President’s May 12 deadline to “fix” the 2015 nuclear accord.

The EU is eager to safeguard the pact, under which Tehran agreed to curb its nuclear ambitions for at least a decade, but Trump has been a fierce critic.

He has threatened not to extend U.S. sanctions relief on Iran related to the agreement which sees the West mostly lifting extensive sanctions in exchange for the Islamic republic curbing its nuclear program.

Seeking to respond to Trump’s criticism of the nuclear accord and Tehran more broadly, France, Britain and Germany proposed directing sanctions at Iranian “militias and commanders” fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

They hoped holding Iran accountable for this could help convince Trump not to walk away from the nuclear agreement. But they ran into opposition by Italy, backed by Austria.

– By Gabriela Baczynska, Peter Maushagen, Reuters, 16 April 2018

Link here to the Reuters article

Read more:

Trump refuses to certify Iran deal, imposes new sanctions

US imposes sanctions on oligarchs and Russian officials

Quick take: Understanding the EU’s sanctions against Russia

17 Apr 2018
Published in News

HSBC: $500 million returned to Angola after fraud alert, UK intervention

The Angolan government has received half a billion dollars that was ‘improperly’ transferred from its central bank’s Standard Chartered Bank account to an HSBC account in the United Kingdom.

The move comes after the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) recently confirmed that the necessary authority had been obtained for the funds to be returned to the Angolans.

The transfer of the funds to the HSBC account is now part of a large-scale fraud investigation.

In a statement explaining the alleged scam, the Angolan Finance Ministry said: “The US $500 million has already been recovered and is in the hands of the BNA [Banco Nacional de Angola, the central bank of Angola].”

The $500m was an initial payment of a planned $1.5 billion potential fraud, in which a firm claimed a consortium could arrange a $35 billion credit facility for the Angolan government provided it paid a $1.5bn ‘guarantee fee’ upfront.

A senior official at BNA is understood to have then authorised the transfer of the $500m, as the first tranche of the $1.5bn, from BNA’s Standard Chartered account in Angola to a HSBC account in the UK.

HSBC however, froze the account and alerted the NCA, which seized the funds using new powers in the Criminal Finances Act.

According to the Angolan Finance Ministry, after Angolan officials looked into the firms involved in the proposed credit facility deal, several due diligence red flags were raised and some documents involving a third bank turned out to be forged.

The alleged scaam is believed to have involved a number of individuals, including José Filomeno dos Santos, who is the son of former Angolan president José Eduardo dos Santos, and former BNA governor Valter Filipe da Silva.

Both Filomeno dos Santos and Da Silva have both reportedly been charged with fraudulently transferring the $500m.

Filomeno has said he will cooperate with authorities, according to Reuters. It has not been possible to reach Da Silva for a comment.

– Irene Madongo

Read more:

Analysis: The ‘stunning’ Criminal Finances Act, HSBC and the billion dollar fraud

Data hack: Offshore centres hit by jets and super-rich scandal

Anti-money laundering: Outsourcing — pitfalls to avoid

17 Apr 2018
Published in News

Corruption: Pakistan bars former PM Sharif from holding office for life

Pakistan’s Supreme Court disqualified deposed prime minister Nawaz Sharif from holding office for life on Friday amid an ongoing corruption trial and ahead of general elections due this year.

The Supreme Court barred Sharif, 67, from politics in July over an undeclared source of income, but the veteran leader maintains his grip on the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party, even though he is no longer its leader.

Friday’s ruling addressed an ambiguity over whether he was barred for life or for a specific period for not being honest. The ruling was an interpretation of a constitutional article that has been used to remove legislators from office before, a senior lawyer said.

Sharif and his family have called the corruption proceedings a conspiracy, hinting at intervention by the military, but opponents have hailed them as a rare example of the rich and powerful being held accountable. The military denies any such intervention.

Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb told reporters “nameless and faceless people” had interfered to orchestrate Sharif’s political demise and the downfall of the PML-N.

“Now today they disqualified (Sharif) for life. But people of Pakistan will decide whether the disqualification of an elected prime minister is for one day or for life,” she added.

Sharif is currently appearing before an accountability court in Islamabad on other charges linked to London properties his family owns – proceedings ordered by the Supreme Court last July – that could see him jailed if found guilty.

Sharif has served as prime minister three times and each time was removed from office – in 1993 by presidential order, in 1999 by a military coup that saw him jailed and later exiled before returning when General Pervez Musharraf stepped down, and in 2017 over the corruption probe.

“If it is found by a court of law that any person wanting to be a member of parliament has furnished particulars which are found false or omitted to furnish particulars which are necessary, then he will come under that category of persons disqualified for life.”

– By Reuters, 13 April 2018

Photo: DFID – UK Department for International Development

Link here to the Reuters article.