A malleable, hard-to-trace and internationally accepted store of value, gold is precious to the criminal, says Sue Grossey, for the treasury of opportunities it offers to hide and move tarnished wealth.
A problem shared is unlikely to mean a problem halved in AML/CFT and sanctions compliance but it may, at least, point a way forward and foster fellow-feeling, both worthy goals of the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists, which addressed a host of current challenges at its annual European conference in London. David Coates reports.
Promontory Financial Group, the consulting firm, has agreed to pay $15m and a six-month suspension on assignments that require confidential information from the New York Department of Financial Services after the regulator found a “lack of independent judgment” in its work on US sanctions breaches by Standard Chartered.
On 30 July, the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added a number of new persons and individuals to the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) and Sectoral Sanctions Initiative (SSI) lists, write Scott Balber and Susannah Cogman of Herbert Smith Freehills. OFAC also issued new guidelines to strengthen compliance with the existing Crimea sanctions regime. While US Treasury Department officials noted that the measures were intended to “maintain,” not “escalate,” the sanctions regime, the new OFAC guidelines put financial institutions on notice that OFAC will focus on tightening enforcement of the Crimea sanctions and preventing evasion.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced plans to make public individual foreign company holdings of land and property in England and Wales, collectively worth UK£122 billion.
Risks and Controls
Not legal tender but not illegal either, virtual currencies may be freely transacted in Italy. Brenda Dionisi, in Milan canvases local views on the associated financial crime and compliance risks.
If it ain’t broke why fix it, the saying goes and criminals find that cash still affords one of the best ways to launder the proceeds of crime, according to Europol. In a major study of cash misuse, the police agency finds that it triggers 34% all EU suspicious transaction reports (STRs).
Drawing on the latest advice and strategies gathered at the recent ACAMS 11th Annual AML and Financial Crime (Europe) Conference in London, John Byrne outlines eight key insights into how anti-money laundering and compliance professionals should approach financial crime investigations.
7 March 2016 is slated for the UK Senior Managers Regime (SMR) to come into effect. A development described by Martin Wheatley, immediate past CEO of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as “one of the great reforms of our professional lives”, it will strengthen the (already significant) regulatory focus on the role of the MLRO, write Daren Allen and Polly James of Berwin Leighton Paisner.
The calculus that underpins a bank’s decision to exit customers is complicated by an increasing number of actual and potential cost variables as policy-makers respond to the wider economic and social impact. Colin Darby of Bovill plots a risk map of de-risking.
Garbage in means garbage out, and the risk of fines. Banks are facing intense scrutiny, by regulators, if not prosecutors, of not only the mechanics but the inputs to their sanctions screening and transaction monitoring applications. “There’s no point telling the authorities you’re running all these sophisticated scenarios if the data’s wrong or missing,” says Brigitte de Wilde, Head of Financial Crime Intelligence at SWIFT, the global provider of secure financial messaging services.
Be it hard metal or bits on a blockchain, any means to hold value will interest criminals and so, too, their strategic enemy, the Financial Action Task Force. Gold and virtual currencies both feature in new papers – typologies and guidance, respectively – emanating from FATF’s June plenary.
Tracking the flows of money that finance terrorist groups is both difficult and highly resource-intensive. An ever-growing problem, it is the source of much unease within the AML community, writes John Bryne, Executive Vice President of ACAMS, the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists. He looks at the tools and content available to help those in financial crime compliance.
Legal / Regulatory
“We assess that hundreds of billions of US dollars of criminal money almost certainly continue to be laundered through UK banks, including their subsidiaries, each year.” The National Crime Agency view in its National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime 2015 makes grim reading for an industry already spending many millions on compliance in the wake of fines and admonitions by prosecutors and regulators.
On 19 June 2015 the High Court handed down judgment in Elaine Hmicho v Barclays Bank PLC  EWHC 1757 (QB). The ruling is important for all financial institutions, writes Zia Ullah of Eversheds, for the useful guidance it provides on the concepts of ownership and control in the context of international sanctions.
In the early hours of 14 July 2015, it was announced that the P5+1/EU3+3 and Iran had reached agreement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran’s nuclear programme, building on the framework announced in April this year. A key element of the JCPOA will be extensive relief from current EU and US sanctions against Iran. However, celebrations may be premature, caution Scott Balber and Susannah Cogman of Herbert Smith Freehills, as sanctions relief will be effective only upon Iran meeting its obligations regarding its nuclear programme and, as such, the existing UN, US and EU sanctions remain in force.
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