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World Money Laundering Report

The former deputy treasurer for the City of Compton, California, has pleaded guilty to federal charges stemming from his theft of more than USD3.7 million of city funds. His wife has pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Some years ago, payment system provider SWIFT launched KYC Registry, a membership-scheme which provided data which the company gathered about financial institutions and which provided at least comfort to those engaged in correspondent banking. The product was in competition with services from Banker's Almanac, now owned by software house Accuity. Swift says that the way its information is sourced has changed and now, within strict confines, the platform is regarded as "community driven." SWIFT say this means that the data should be open to the community. What, exactly, does that mean?

Scenario: a prospective customer walks into your office, shakes hands with you and sits down. You look at his clothes, his bag, even his shoes. You check his haircut, his facial hair, if he has any. You even sniff to see if he smells and, if so, of what. You check out his shoes. You listen to his voice, the accent, inflection, the tone. You analyse the skin on his fingers and palm when you shake hands. You look at his fingernails and, even the way that he sits. And you form a view. But did you know that, subconsciously, there is something else that has influenced you, from the moment you looked at him when he walked through the door? New research says there was.

Reports that Australian banks are going to co-operate on KYC information are welcome but fall far short of the ideal. Also, conceptually, it's been tried before, and failed. We know: we covered one such attempt in WMLR Vol 5 No 3 in November 2003.

When the most powerful anti-corruption body in a country as big and as corrupt as India tells banks to shape up and go back on dodgy deals to ensure recovery, the results may turn out to be shocking.

In Mumbai, a special money laundering court is the venue for the laying of charges against Vijay Mallya and 8 co-defendants. Mallya is described in Indian media as a "fugitive" because he left India for the UK where he lives in considerable luxury although he had divested himself of many assets including, reports suggest, at least some of his interest in the Force India Formula One team. The Court seems to agree..

The appeal in Abdul Ghani bin Tahir -v- the Public Prosecutor of Singapore resulted in the upholding of the conviction but a reduction of 50% in the sentence. The case draws together principles that have been developed in a number of jurisdictions and should be regarded as a leading case across all jurisdictions. Even more interesting, it involves a chartered accountant and glaring failures in any form of financial crime risk management system.

A post on LinkedIn recently * says "In the line of duty as a Compliance, I always said to my friend and subordinate; "Never ever say can not until the regulation really declare can not"."

Is this a safe policy?

The perception of car theft is that it is, mostly, someone stealing a car to get home after the trains have stopped running or as a getaway car for another offence. It may be that a car is stolen and used by the thief, or someone else, to run around town with the number plates being replaced from time to time to match those of a similar make and model which is legally taxed and insured, so in effect duplicating the identity of a similar car. But there are other offences and they are a lot more lucrative and, surprisingly, performed in a far more sophisticated way.

It's pathetic: according to a report in The Law Society's Gazette, the official publication of the Law Society of England and Wales, "The Legal Sector Affinity Group, whose members include the Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority, has told the Treasury that a ‘sensible supervisory approach’ to the new regulations would give firms and individuals time to adjust to their new obligations." Apparently the membership body and the regulator haven't had time to prepare their Guidance. Too busy with finding new crazy obligations to impose on an already over-stretched profession, one might conclude.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and Queensland Police Service (QPS) have worked together to identify those with criminal histories and continued connections with suspected criminal activity who also hold company directorships, including directorships of private companies: then ASIC has removed them from their boards. The action is designed to limit the use of corporations in the commission of crimes, including money laundering.

US TV carrier Dish Networks is popular for its service and incredibly unpopular for its business practices. US States have been putting the company under pressure for a decade and still it fails and ends up paying whacking fines. At the heart of its problems are these issues: collection, validation and use of internally generated data, use of externally generated data, balancing commercial needs with regulatory demands, all things that are the daily diet of Financial Crime Risk Officers in financial institutions and other businesses affected by money laundering, terrorist financing and bribery/corruption issues.

Nigel Morris-Cotterill suggests that banks and others who terminate e.g. correspondent banking relationships and customers' accounts saying it's because of de-risking might have another option: mentor them to get it right.

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Nigel Morris-Cotterill is one of the world's most experienced counter-money laundering strategists. www.countermoneylaundering.com.
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Every so often, Bitcoin hits the news because a criminal gang is using it for some nefarious purpose. We examined BitCoin in a special issue (see here) in 2013. It was not our first look at virtual currencies: that was way back in the mid 1990s, before we even launched World Money Laundering Report, and we've kept a watching brief ever since. Here's the current scary stuff.

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