FATF to finalize interpretation of virtual assets, digital currency exchanges and ICOs to require they be FIU-registered and supervised for AML compliance

In furtherance of the US approach to responsible innovation, the Financial Action Task Force (“FATF“)’s private sector consultation in Vienna two weeks ago, will help drive changes to FATF Recommendation 15 to bring digital currencies, ICOs, and digital currency exchanges more fully into the AML requirements in June 2019. The Vienna change will take effect [...]

OFAC releases framework for sanctions compliance

The Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) published a framework for sanctions compliance yesterday which describes the sanctions compliance program standards for US legal and natural persons and for US-origin goods or services. The framework mirrors the requirements for a competence AML program and includes: commitment from the top down in writing. creation [...]

World Check being sued over database of personal information

A number of persons and organizations are allegedly preparing to sue Thomson Reuters, the organization that runs World Check for wrongly listing them in a database as a financial crime risk. World Check created (apparently without informed consent at least under Canadian law), an online global database that purports to provide anti-money laundering, sanctions and [...]

The smuggling of rhinoceros horns to China

The prosecution of wildlife smuggling is rare and especially if it involves a Canadian. But last year, Xiao Ju Gian, was sentenced in New York for 30 months incarceration for smuggling rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory and coral from the US into Vancouver, from which he abused the Canadian financial system. Xiao Guan lived in Richmond, [...]

US expands review of money laundering in real estate market

More scrutiny in US for real estate The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) announced that it is expanding its program to identify persons who may be hiding assets in residential properties in the US. The expansion adds additional cities to what are called the area for Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO). Title insurance agents in GTO cities [...]

FinTechs are being derisked out of bank accounts over terrorist financing and money laundering risks says UK study

The Financial Conduct Authority released an interesting soft study on the incidents of derisking affecting companies in the UK and pursuant to the study, MSB, charities and FinTechs are the three business client groups whose bank accounts are most frequently closed because they are too risky for the bank (a practice known as derisking). No [...]

The $200 million a year refugee smuggling operation in Libya

A $200 million a year business and growing  The EU – Turkey deal to close the borders of the EU to refugees and migrants has shifted the human smuggling routes back to Libya. The focus back to Libya means ISIS’ large source of terrorist financing from this activity is flowing again, which may also facilitate [...]

“Responsible Innovation” – What the coming regulation of FinTech will look like

Financial regulators balance innovation and protection Financial regulators serve two important functions for the financial system. 1. They support growth and innovation where it could improve access to finance, or the delivery of financial services or grow the economy. 2. At the same time,  they  protect consumers and society at large by supervising the financial services [...]

US amends anti-money laundering law for beneficial ownership after Panama Papers, including to detect purchases of expensive real estate with illicit money

Panama Papers Driven Changes The US Treasury has announced several amendments, and proposed legislative amendments, to its anti-money laundering (“AML“) legislation in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal to tackle the disclosure of what is called “beneficial ownership.” Beneficial ownership means the beneficial, as opposed to the legal, owner of shares of a private [...]

Primer on Beneficial Ownership and Numbered, Shelf and Shell Companies

Beneficial ownership … Shell companies … Shelf companies … What’s the Difference?  Since the Panama Papers, there seems to be an increasing interest in the concepts of beneficial ownership, numbered companies, shell companies and shelf companies and people use them interchangeably but they are not the same thing. 1. Shelf Companies  A shelf company literally [...]