KYC360 Weekly Roundup

Published on Jan 21, 2022

Reforming the Irreformable

In this week’s roundup: UAE’s fight against gold smuggling, ex-FATF chief says “fining banks for money laundering doesn’t work”, AUSTRAC widens probe into the country’s second largest casino operator, UK Treasury says £3.4bn in Covid payments have been lost to fraud, a brief look at how NFTs can be used to launder money and a look at Kazakhstan’s former president’s vast array of hidden assets.

Reforming the Irreformable: The UAE’s Fight against its Illegal Gold Market

“One major reason for UAE being a paradise for smuggled gold is its weak custom regulations, especially for hand-carried gold. Traders have been able to bring in gold through customs without having to show proof of origin, or payment documentation.”

With the UAE potentially looking at being grey listed by FATF, the country’s fight against its biggest money laundering problem has come back into the spotlight – gold smuggling. Preetam Kaushik investigates.

Ex FATF Chief Warms Taskforce Fell Short of ‘Meaningful’ AML Reform

David Lewis, ex-chief of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has hit out at the organisation saying efforts to combat money laundering has been “inadequate”. The ex-chief told the Financial Times that “the world doesn’t need more standards or regulations, and fining banks doesn’t work”.

AUSTRAC to Extend Money Laundering Probe at Casino Firm Star

AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial crime regulator announced on Friday it had widened its probe into the country’s second largest casino operator – Star. The investigation was launched over possible breaches of AML and CTF laws in its casinos.

Pilatus money laundering: arrest warrants not yet served to bosses

Top executives at Pilatus Bank, including owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, have still not had their arrest warrants executed. International arrest warrants were signed by a magistrate back in March 2021 but none have been executed even after their record fine by the FIAU for €4.9m. 

UK Treasury: £3.4bn in Covid Payments Lost to Fraud

The UK treasury has announced it expects the anti-fraud taskforce to write off £4.3bn in Covid-19 payments lost to fraudsters. The total estimated amount lost is £5.8bn, meaning only £1 will be recovered for each £4 lost to scammers.

Electronic Warfare Tech Used by Criminal Groups to Evade Sanctions

Illicit actors are looking to utilise new techniques in a bid to evade sanctions on maritime trade. Rather than completely ‘going dark’, computer generated information on a ship’s location is being fed into the data transmitters.

Are NFTs providing another (easy) way to launder money?

An interesting read on what Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are and how they can be used in money laundering in simple terms. “NFTs and cryptocurrency trading add a handy layer of abstraction for criminals, incredibly simple to use, effectively free at the point of service, and numerous privacy features to boot.”

US News: President Biden’s plan to reduce corruption and ‘A Commitment to International Cooperation and Global Initiatives’

A look at how the Biden Administration plans to counter domestic and international corruption – which includes international cooperation and global initiatives such as ‘Expanding NATO’s Building Integrity Program to “target corruption in finance, acquisition and human resources functions” and ‘Pushing “the G20 and G7 to implement strong transparency and anti-corruption measures”

Nursultan Nazarbayev’s vast hidden assets in Kazakhstan

OCCRP take a detailed look into ‘The Nazarbayev Billions’ and how Kazakhstan’s former president hid banks, hotels, and a $100 million jet in a network of foundations that answer only to him. “The Nazarbayev assets under the control of charitable foundations include luxury hotels, banks, factories, warehouses, and other possessions amounting to at least $8 billion.”

NatWest AML failures – What went wrong?

In this RiskScreen report, we look in detail at a catalogue of AML failures – from the bank’s failing to conduct ongoing monitoring of a business relationship and an erroneous risk rating through to weaknesses in the bank’s automatic transaction monitoring system and ultimately failures to respond to alerts and reports.


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