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Money Laundering

On 13 May, the Monetary Authority of Singapore issued its market-segment specific "GUIDELINES ON PREVENTION OF MONEY LAUNDERINGAND COUNTERING THE FINANCING OF TERRORISM-DIRECT GENERAL INSURANCE BUSINESS,REINSURANCE BUSINESS, ANDDIRECT LIFE INSURANCE BUSINESS (ACCIDENT & HEALTH POLICIES)". Here are ten key phrases.

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It has become fashionable to talk of "The Three Lines of Defence" in relation to money laundering, terrorist financing, etc. Is it just more more quasi-militaristic buzzwords, so loved by Americans, and a pretence of intellect or is there genuine merit here?

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The responsible officer of a securities brokerage has been banned from the industry for ten months as a result of his "failure to discharge his duties as an RO" and a member of the company's senior management. The company has been fined a substantial amount, too.

The Law Society of England and Wales has, since the early 1990s, fought a rear-guard action against the engagement of solicitors in counter-money laundering efforts. The Regulator, which was first a division of the Law Society and then spun off to become a ludicrously politically charged enforcer of any passing social fad had, at that time the correct view that solicitors were within the scope of the original Money Laundering Regulations. At last, the regulator, now known as the Solicitors (sic) Regulatory Authority (it's so trendy it doesn't use an apostrophe where its name demands one) has decided that money laundering is something it needs to pay attention to. The Law Society is on a war footing, declaring the SRA's action "an assault."

The obligation to train staff for e.g. counter-money laundering purposes is hardly a surprise. But, as Nigel Morris-Cotterill says, the training of temporary and agency staff is often overlooked. As this health and safety case shows, that is not acceptable.

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The elderly have always been easy targets for fraudsters using "I can fix the hole in your roof" or charity, even religious, scams. But the internet is making it easier for fraudsters to be convincing and the internet is making even direct personal contact practically anonymous. Advance fee fraud no longer relies on mail, telex or fax but on e-mail and telephones, tech that the elderly are predisposed to trust. But sometimes, they fight back....

Now here's a surprise: Australian regulator ASIC has charged (actually charged, as in criminal charges) three people with laundering the proceeds of an attempt to manipulate an insolvency. Other countries have long included insolvency offences as predicate offences for money laundering purposes: this is the first case we can think of where action has been taken.

We'ld like to thank Mr Andrea Van for the opportunity to earn 10% of USD125,500,000. His email address, should you want to take him up on his offer, is mabutdengjok@gmail.com. So, not Andrea Van, then. And he's apparently sent from infor@inbox.com which hardly encourages faith in his bona fides and nor does the fact that he's spoofed that address: inbox.com does not authorise his IP address, 165.227.107.154, for sending mail. So, basically, every verifiable "fact" is a lie. And that's before we get onto what he's offering.

In what might just count as the simplest money laundering scheme ever, a senior officer of a US bank is to be banged up for two years.

In the past day or so, a company called emailmovers limited using the domain xmr3.com have sent out a number of spam e-mails addressed to personal e-mail addresses at companies. They claim "Emailmovers is one of the UK's only B2B email data owners who provide Full Email Marketing services in house" which is, in itself a nonsensical statement.

But it's their claim for how many people they feel it's OK to send unwanted commercial email to that is interesting. Just how did they get it and how do they think it's legal to use it? And is it a predicate crime for money laundering purposes if they have breached GDPR?

"Cognitive bias" is one of those expressions, along with various other forms of bias, that's become popular in recent months. However, there's nothing new and nothing clever about cognitive bias. In fact, it's one of the most fundamental aspects of decision making. We all, without exception, do it. But the problem is that it underpins one of the reasons that financial crime risk management fails, over and over again.

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We, the people, are discriminatory. You , me, he, she are all guilty of one of the most fundamental forms of discrimination. Yet, if we reject that attitude, we become better at so many things. Importantly, it all comes down to two fundamental prejudices. And, if you are a LinkedIn user, it's almost certain that you exercise it with every visit. Read on for why your New Year's resolution should be to reject this particularly unwise way of life.

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FinCEN and the Federal Banking Agencies have issued a joint statement "encouraging innovative industry approaches" to money laundering compliance. It's not long and it encourages both human and technological innovation. But, importantly, it specifically says that it does not require those who don't need it to jump into NewTech just because it's there. It also says banks are free to fail when trying new things. It also says that some NewTech might result in regulators finding out things companies might rather they didn't.

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It would be far more sensible if the UK scrapped its money laundering laws, wrote something comprehensible and properly structured and kept it all in one place. But no, that would make life far too simple. So, we have the latest Act that has to be read in the light of, and which makes amendments to, other legislation. But it's important and so no one can simply say "stuff it" and delete it. As it comes into force, there is a hint as to at least some of the priorities in relation to international financial crime.

Yesterday, Singapore passed its Serious Crimes and Counter-Terrorism (Miscellaneous Amendments" Bill. The Lion City's approach to suspicious assets has logic on its side, but it doesn't work in practice. Here is WMLR's analysis of the relevant parts of the Act and its consequences, including risk for compliance / risk officers.

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