25 Feb 2022
In this week’s roundup: With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, countries have been issuing sanctions in an attempt to stop further aggression. Credit Suisse dominated the headlines at the start of the week with a whistleblower leaking information about over 18,000 accounts held at the bank. We also looked at the threat of money laundering in the Netherlands.
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Russia sanctioned over Ukraine invasion
Countries around the world are condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and released numerous measures including sanctions and blocking Russia from being able to access key financial markets in Europe and America.
The UK announced on Tuesday its first wave of sanctions which target Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank. The UK has also issued sanctions on multiple individuals including Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg, and Igor Rotenberg. The UK has also banned Russia’s national airline, Aeroflot from UK air space.
The European Union agreed on a sanctions package that will target 351 Russian lawmakers who voted in favour of Putin’s recognition of the two breakaway regions in Ukraine. The package also targets 27 other individuals/entities “who threaten Ukrainian territory and sovereignty as well as 11 individuals who proposed the recognition and commanders of the Russian ‘peacekeeping’ mission.
The United States has imposed sanctions on Russian financial institutions and individuals.
In addition to its European counterpart’s sanctions, Germany has also put a hold on the gas pipeline project Nord Stream 2. Japan and Australia also imposed sanctions on Russia, with Australian prime minister Scott Morrison acknowledging that although they do not have a large volume of trade with the sanctioned nation, “Australians always stand up to bullies.”
Credit Suisse Leaks
A massive data leak from one of Switzerland’s largest banks, Credit Suisse has revealed the hidden wealth of clients involved in serious crimes such as money laundering, terrorist financing and corruption.
The leak had been released by the whistleblower to a German newspaper, Süddeutsche Zeitung with the story breaking just over the past weekend. The leaked records contain information on over 18,000 accounts held at the bank – a small amount when compared to the bank’s overall holdings.
The list of clients includes people such as: a Hong Kong stock exchange boss jailed for bribery, a billionaire who ordered his Lebanese pop star girlfriend’s murder and a Zimbabwean fraudster with ties to Mugabe.
Breaking stories from the leaks
Azerbaijani strongman Vasif Talibov’s sons received millions from money laundering systems
Rza and Seymur Talibov, the sons of Vasif Talibov, received over $20million in suspicious wire transfers from shell companies. The two eventually went on to buy property in Dubai and Georgia estimated to be worth $63million.
Zimbabwean fraudster financed by Credit Suisse – saving Mugabe
Credit Suisse opened two accounts for Billy Rautenbach who was later sanctioned for his role in the 2008 Zimbabwe election. The accounts had been opened just before a mining deal funneled $100m into Mugabe’s government.
Painful questions arise for Credit Suisse after leak
Serious questions about the bank are being raised after the data leak. In a statement issued on Sunday evening, the bank said, “approximately 90% of the reviewed accounts are today closed or were in the process of closure prior to receipt of the press inquiries, of which over 60% were closed before 2015.”.
In other news
Assessing the Threat of Money Laundering in the Netherlands
“Money laundering is a significant risk in the Netherlands, given the large and internationally oriented financial sector, the open, trade-oriented economy and the high digitization levels of the financial systems. A reported 16 billion Euros gets laundered annually in the country.”
Preetam Kaushik investigates the threat of money laundering in the EU’s 7th largest economy.
Calls for UK to rethink ‘golden visa’ blanket ban
Lawyers in London are calling for the government rethink its decision to get rid of its Tier 1 investor visa scheme, warning the damage to the economy could be in the billions.
Private school fees paid by dirty cash
A recent investigation conducted by The Times has revealed that oligarchs who are accused of embezzling hundreds of millions of pounds are sending their children to the UK’s top private school. The NCA has warned schools that they are under high risk of accepting laundered money.
New draft law by EU would require firms to check suppliers for human rights/environmental ethics
The European Commission unveiled a proposal this week which will require large companies operation within the EU to check that their suppliers, irregardless of their location, do not use slave or child labour and they respect environmental standards.
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