KYC360 Weekly Roundup - 1st Mar 2024

Published on Mar 01, 2024

Top stories this week: 

EU Announces Location of New Anti-Money Laundering Authority | Lloyds Faces Money Laundering Controls Investigation | US and UK Hit Houthi Rebels with Fresh Sanctions | UK Publishes Sanctions Strategy Paper 

Welcome to this week’s edition of the KYC Roundup - your gateway to the most impactful developments in the world of Anti-Money Laundering and financial crime. In the AML arena, the top stories feature Europe announcing the location of their new Anti-Money Laundering Authority and some changes in the FATF grey list. Meanwhile, Lloyds faces a money laundering controls investigation and the EU has adopted instant payments regulation.  

In the fast-paced world of sanctions, the CEO of Russia’s second-largest bank has been charged with sanctions violations and the UK and US have hit Iranian-backed Houthis with a new sanctions package. Also, the UK published a sanctions strategy paper.  

In the corruption space, a former oil trader has been convicted of corruption charges and Alexei Navalny hits out at corrupt officials in an unseen interview.  

We round off this week’s roundup with an opportunity to view our recent webinar, "Comply and Outperform - Lessons from Formula 1". Watch Stephen Platt, Founder of KYC360 and Neil Martin, former Head of Race Strategy at Ferrari F1 discuss how to turn compliance from being a brake into an accelerator.  

 

Financial_ServicesKYC & AML

FCA to handle enforcement cases more quickly and firms under inquiry to be named 

The UK’s financial watchdog has announced a new approach to enforcement that aims to increase deterrence. This includes increasing transparency of investigations, focusing on a streamlined portfolio of cases and closing cases with no achievable outcome more quickly. Currently, investigations are very rarely announced to the public.  

UAE dropped from the FATF grey list 

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) removed the United Arab Emirates from their grey list that categorises countries that have deficiencies in combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. This will be seen as a major boost to the country and could help to bolster its international standing. The other update saw Kenya and Namibia added to the grey list.  

EU announces location of new Anti-Money Laundering Authority  

The base of the European Union’s new Anti-Money Laundering Authority will be Frankfurt, Germany. Previously, national regulators were responsible for enforcement, however, member states did not always cooperate fully. It is hoped this new authority will enable the bloc to more effectively fight money laundering, illicit financial activities and terrorist financing.  

Lloyds Banking Group faces money laundering controls investigation 

Lloyds disclosed this investigation in its annual report and stated that it relates to money laundering rules and the FCA’s rules and principles of business. The bank is fully cooperating with the investigation and has not yet estimated the potential financial impact.  

UK banks shut accounts due to fears of regulator visits  

The UK financial services minister Bim Afolami told a committee that top UK banks shut down nearly 142,000 accounts because they feared reprisal from regulators. The specific reasons for closure included risk appetite and financial crime concerns. Afolami spoke about the need to ensure the provision of finance to small businesses.  

Judge accepts Binance guilty plea  

A U.S. judge accepted Binance’s guilty plea and a $4.3 billion penalty. The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange failed to disclose more than 100,000 suspicious transactions, which involved designated terrorist groups. Binance has accepted responsibility and upgraded its anti-money laundering and know-your-customer protocols.  

€2 Billion laundered through Lithuania  

Over €2 billion is believed to have been laundered through a worldwide network of shell companies over a seven-year period. Police arrested 18 suspects, including 3 ringleaders, in Italy, Latvia and Lithuania. Eurojust and Europol were both involved in the arrests.  

EU adopts instant payments regulation  

European payment companies will be able to compete with Mastercard and Visa as the EU has added new rules to open the payments market to European financial firms and increase strategic autonomy of the bloc.  

 

SanctionsSanctions

Russian bank boss denies sanctions violations  

Andrei Kostin, CEO of Russia’s second-largest bank has rejected U.S charges of sanctions violations. Kostin was sanctioned in 2018 and was charged by the U.S. on Feb 22nd along with two U.S. based associates. He is accused of money laundering and sanctions violations totalling more than $135 million.  

New Zealand announces new sanctions against Russia 

New Zealand has sanctioned a further 61 individuals and entities as part of the international sanctions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The government is specifically targeting evasion methods. The Island nation also designated Hamas as a terrorist group and imposed sanctions against a dozen extremist Israeli settlers in the West Bank.  

UK publishes sanctions strategy paper  

The paper titled “Deter, Disrupt and Demonstrate” sets out the UK approach to sanctions in 2024 and beyond. It reveals that the Office of Trade Sanctions Implementation will be operational this year and a prohibition on designated persons acting as directors of companies will be introduced. It also details the development of a voluntary process where sanctioned individuals may apply for release to support the reconstruction of Ukraine.  

U.S. and UK hit Iran and Houthi rebels with fresh sanctions 

The U.S. and UK unveiled a new sanctions package targeting Iranian and Houthi commanders and a vessel used to ship Iranian commodities. The sanctions include key units in the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force (IRGC-QF). Repeated drone and missile attacks from the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in the Red Sea have led to shipping instability.  

 

CryptoCorruption

Former oil trader convicted of corruption charges  

The trader who worked at Vitol, one of the largest energy companies was found guilty of corruption charges by a federal jury in Brooklyn. These charges related to over $1 million in bribes that were paid to officials in Ecuador and Mexico. The bribes were sent through middlemen and shell companies. He faces up to 30 years in prison.  

Alexei Navalny hit out at corrupt officials in the UK in unseen interview  

Alexei Navalny took aim at corrupt officials for enabling Putin and the Kremlin. Navalny died earlier this month and was widely known as Russia’s top opposition politician. In this unseen interview, he took aim at the West for not doing enough to target corrupt officials.  

 

Gambling_GamingGaming and Gambling

Georgia takes a step closer to legalise sports betting  

The state took another step towards approving sports betting with Senate resolution 579 passing 41-12. This was above the two-thirds majority required and the bill will now go to the state house. If approved, a referendum will be held.           

UK confirms new maximum stakes for online slots 

The UK has announced maximum stakes will be £2 for players 18-24 and £5 for players aged 25 and above. This is the first implementation of any maximum stakes for online slots in the UK and the decision has come following a 10-week consultation period. The new measures will take effect from September.              

ResourcesKYC360 News

Watch our latest webinar with the former F1 head of strategy  

Missed our recent webinar? See the full replay of "Comply and Outperform - Lessons from Formula 1". Hear from Stephen Platt, Founder of KYC360 and Neil Martin, former Head of Race Strategy at Ferrari F1 as they discuss how to transform compliance into a competitive advantage allowing you to do more, better business faster.  

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