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AML Roundup – 7 Jan, 2022
07 Jan 2022

In the first roundup of 2022: Tim Cooper investigates BVI’s new compliance tactics, Theranos chief exec found guilty of fraud, ex Swedbank chief charged as part of larger investigation, UK law firm fined over AML failings and leaked UEFA memo reveals attempts and match fixing.

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Spotlight shines on BVI after laundering scandals

“Much depends on the private sector’s response. BVI is regarded as one of the world’s most dependable tax havens. But it is reeling from several corruption scandals that threaten this reputation, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).”

After a series of financial crime scandals and with a FATF test due in Q2 this year, the British Virgin Islands is pushing to improve its compliance regime. Tim Cooper investigates.

Swedbank Ex-chief Charged Over Money Laundering Scandal

Former Chief Executive of Swedbank, Birgitte Bonnesen, has been charged with fraud, market manipulation and the unauthorised disclosure of inside information. The charges have come after an investigation into money laundering in the Baltics. Swedbank remains under criminal investigation by US regulators over its money laundering scandals in the Baltics.

Theranos Founder Convicted of Fraud

Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of biotech firm Theranos, has been found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud against investors and three counts of wire fraud. Theranos was once valued at £6.5bn with Holmes raising more than $900m from billionaire investors like Rupert Murdoch.

North Korean Proliferation Financing and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions

Understanding how North Korea has evaded TFS through DNFBPs will be key to fulfilling this requirement. This is of particular importance as North Korea-related DNFBP typologies do not appear to be aligned with the money-laundering and terrorist-financing vulnerabilities faced by DNFBPs more broadly, upon which the FATF Standards’ preventative measures and record-keeping obligations are based.

Read the RUSI white paper here.

Australia: Banks help AUSTRAC catch criminals

In a recent article by the Australian Financial Review, AUSTRAC’s chief executive has praised banks as a “significant partner”. Banks are now working with AUSTRAC after realising “the impact it has on the community”. This comes after a wave of reports that Australian banks aren’t doing enough to combat financial crime. In October 2020, Westpac were fined A$1.3 billion after being found guilty of breaking Australia’s AML and CTF Act between 2014 and 2017. Just last year AUSTRAC identified “serious concerns” with NAB’s compliance to AML and CTF laws.

Ireland: Art Deals Urged to Act Criminals Wanting to Launder Money

Art dealers in Ireland have been “warned” to take measures against criminals who used art to launder illicit funds. The Department of Justice is looking to harden its regulations for art traders and intermediaries, many of whom have not been regulated before.

Leaked UEFA Memo Reveals Attempted Match Fixing

A leaked UEFA memo has revealed that organized crime groups are attempting to fix football matches by paying referees. The referees were contacted via social media to sway matched in one way.

The memo stated, “The corrupters made use of cyber-crime tactics not previously seen in reported corrupter messages, possibly pointing to a bleed-over in tactics from more sophisticated groups or even the potential for collaboration with such groups.”.

UK Law Firm Fined £232,500 Over AML Failings

UK law firm Mishcon de Reya has been fined £232,500 over several breaches relating to money laundering rules. This is one of the biggest fines ever issued by the Solicitors Regulation Authority even with it being reduced from £387,500.

New EBA Alert: Unwarranted De-Risking & Ineffective management of money laundering and terrorist financing risks

The European Banking Authority (EBA) has published its opinion on the scale and impact of de-risking in the European Union. The report outlines how de-risking has detrimental impact on EU objectives relating to fighting financial crime as well as how its guidance can be used to mitigate unwarranted de-risking.

Read the report here.

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