Why Satoshi Nakamoto doesn’t matter — Medium

All eyes should be on the emerging technology’s disruption of the banking technology instead of finding the Bitcoin founder

The financial industry is increasingly shadowed by the image of Satoshi Nakamoto; the supposedly reclusive Bitcoin digital currency inventor who has been publicly outed by the press on numerous occasions, only to find once the headlines have ceased that the person in question was not Satoshi Nakamoto. The latest Nakamoto? Australian Craig Wright claimed to be the Bitcoin founder last year, but his claims were largely rebuffed by the Bitcoin community and by the press. Now he is back and begging the world to believe he created Bitcoin, claiming he has ‘extraordinary proof’ to back up his claims.

I say, who cares? The founder of Bitcoin doesn’t matter in the greater scheme of the financial world. What really matters is Bitcoin’s disruption of a technology resistant financial industry, which is taking place on a scale that goes beyond just digital currency.

In fact, 60 Minutes ran a groundbreaking story about fintech’s disruption of the financial arena recently and it pointed out something key to the fintech debate — the banks, by and large, are not mapping to the trends and changes happening in just about every industry that are being caused, not by technology, but by banking customers’ adoption of technology into their everyday lives. One of the fintech startups featured in the story, Stripe, was founded by a couple of millennials from Ireland. Their view of the world is focused on the internet-driven society they were raised in, but is also surprisingly customer focused. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: Why Satoshi Nakamoto doesn’t matter — Medium

A chink in the prince’s armor? — Medium

Has Erik Prince fallen from a trusted provider to the U.S. government to a known bad actor?

Erik Prince’s real life reads like fiction. Son of a wealthy industrialist, he’s been a White House intern, attended the prestigious Naval Academy, is a former Navy Seal, founder and former chairman of the defunct Blackwater USA, current chairman of Frontier Services Group…and now, an accused money launderer? According to a piece published in The Intercept, Prince is under investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice and other federal agencies for attempting to broker military services to foreign governments and possible money laundering.

How did an intelligent, wealthy, well-educated and well-connected Prince fall so far out of favor? After forming Blackwater’s notorious mercenary services organization in 1997, Prince either served as the American society’s hero or villain, depending upon which side of the political aisle one was standing on. The Republican Party embraced Blackwater, while the Democrats saw legal and moral issues; regardless, in 2010 the Obama administration still funded Blackwater to the tune of $220 million for State Department and CIA support. All told, the company received over two billion dollars in government security contracts between 1997–2010.

Prince resigned as Blackwater’s chairman in 2009 after he was exposed in the press as an alleged CIA asset by former CIA director Leon Panetta. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: A chink in the prince’s armor? — Medium

The blockchain train has left the station — Medium

42 major banks have now tested five blockchain technologies

If 2015 was the year everyone was talking about blockchain, this will be the year that everyone builds on it. In the last few months since blockchain hit the cover of the Economist, there have been dozens of announcements trumpeting the benefits of blockchain systems, ranging from proprietary technology developed by Overstock.com and which it plans to use to issue public shares, to open-source technology developed by IBM on the Linux kernel to be freely shared between developers.

To say that the financial services industry is nervous as a result would be an understatement. For decades, banking transactions have been kept on private ledgers that only the institutions could control. Blockchain is changing that system and shaking up the status quo. . . To read the rest of this story, please click here: The blockchain train has left the station — Medium

Goldman Sachs’ Leissner to Take Fall For Bank?

Is Goldman Sachs in trouble in the tropics? One of its top executives, Tim Leissner, the Singapore-based chairman of Goldman’s Southeast Asia operations, remains under investigation by the FBI for his connections to embattled Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak. Razak has come under fire from the Malaysian government regarding $681 million in funds that were mysteriously transferred to his personal bank account by the Saudi Arabian government.

In addition, Leissner is being investigated for his role in striking deals worth $6.5 billion for his employer with the Malaysian financial fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), owned by Razak, for which Goldman Sachs earned an almost $600 million commission, amounting to 9.1 percent of the money raised. The average commission for an investment bank is about five percent, or less.

Leissner, 45, who was married to model and fashion designer Kimora Lee Simmons in 2013 (Simmons is the former wife of hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons), reportedly was considered one of the financial firm’s ‘Golden Boys’. . . Click here to read the rest of this story on Medium.com.

Israel’s Addition to Financial Action Task Force Long Overdue – Medium

Data proves some existing FATF member countries have much deeper AML issues than Israel

The worldwide Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on money laundering recently announced that Israel will join the organization as an observer starting in June 2016. Considering Israel’s tough stand on terrorists, adding it as an observer is a big step forward for the prestigious FATF, which sets global rules and standards for combating money laundering and terror financing. To date, only 34 countries make up its membership; countries that don’t meet FATF’s standards land on the task force’s blacklist.

In order for Israel to become a full member of FATF, it will have to pass comprehensive international inspection, showing that it has improved identification requirements at its financial institutions and expanded its AML regulations. The rewards for doing this work and joining the organization are that Israel will be able to participate in shaping global policy dealing with financial fraud and position itself as one of the leading countries in the worldwide fight against money laundering and terror financing.

Knowing the other 34 countries already accepted as full FATF members, I’m surprised it took this long to start the membership process for Israel. . . Click here to read the rest of this story on Medium.com.

High-Priced Bongs, and Other Ways Pot Businesses Handle Cash – American Baker’s BankThink

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.51.48 PMThe good, the bad and the ugly of the legal marijuana business

With medical marijuana now legal in 23 states and recreational marijuana legal in Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, cannabis is a legitimate growth industry generating substantial income. In Colorado alone, the pot industry is expected to pour an estimated $120 million in tax revenue in the state’s coffers for 2015. Nationwide, medical and recreational marijuana as an industry is expected to net between $2 and $3 billion per year in revenue.

You might think banks would be lining up to do business with these cash-rich entrepreneurs, but nothing could be further from the truth. The banks, rightfully so, in my opinion, assume they are putting themselves at risk with the federal government by engaging in marijuana-based businesses, as marijuana is still considered an illegal substance on the federal level. And the reality is today’s banking industry is all about risk mitigation, especially when it comes to cash-based businesses and the potential for rampant money laundering.

Yet, as I stated above, this is a quickly growing and legitimate industry in the states where it is legal. In its infancy, however, marijuana entrepreneurs are facing a mountain of regulatory and financial issues. The biggest of these issues is the lack of access to banking services. Here are what I’d consider the good, the bad and the ugly stories related to legal marijuana banking and taxation.

To read the rest of this story at American Banker’s BankThink blog, please click here.

Originally published at www.americanbanker.com on February 29, 2016.

Pot is legal…but the income isn’t? – Medium

Banking the proceeds remains a crap shoot for legal pot shops

Despite the fact that federal statutes make it illegal, a growing number of states (23 and the District of Columbia at last count) are approving some form of sale of marijuana to the public. These legitimate (by state) businesses have figured out how to securely grow, ship, receive and store their products, but banking the proceeds from these agribusinesses is still a crap shoot.

Banks inherently avoid risk due to the stiff penalties they face for money laundering, an activity largely associated with drugs, so any profits earned from the sale of marijuana are suspicious. As a result, nearly all of the nation’s banks refuse to even offer basic services to these businesses, their owners and employees. This has forced many marijuana-based organizations to move to all-cash transactions — spawning more opportunity for money laundering than if the transactions were handled by the financial services industry.

It’s such a murky area that a bipartisan group of U.S. senators proposed a bill that would legalize banking. . . Click here to read the rest of the story on Medium.com.

Mexico’s Know Your Country Problem – Medium

Mexico develops a U.S. dollar transfer business to thwart money laundering and encourage international commerce

Bloomberg Business broke the news last week that Mexico will soon enter the dollar transfer business in an effort to catch money laundering before it causes harm and to promote the continued exchange of U.S. currency by legitimate Mexican businesses. Mexico’s money laundering woes, followed by subsequent de-risking and this proposed dollar transfer solution, are prime examples of the impact ‘Know Your Country’ can have on a nation’s economy.

Money laundering leads to punishment and de-risking

When it comes to criminal activities, money laundering is a necessary evil. Criminal enterprises in Mexico were finding it a little too easy to launder illicit pesos through U.S. banks. For example, banks were failing to flag transfers linked to Mexican drug cartels, with Wachovia’s gaffe of failing to alert authorities to billions of dollars in wire transfers, travelers checks and cash shipments through Mexico being one of the most egregious. This led to a crackdown by U.S. regulators and law enforcers, causing many banking institutions to back out of working with Mexican businesses entirely as a way to avoid the risk of money laundering and the millions of dollars in penalties associated with it. This process of de-risking, while understandable, does not foster economic growth.

What happens now? Click here to find out on Medium.com. . .

AML Scandals that Flew Under the Radar in ’15 – American Banker’s BankThink Blog

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 3.03.02 PMIn addition to anti-money-laundering scandals involving global banks and worldwide organizations such as FIFA that grabbed headlines last year, there were plenty of damaging laundering convictions and accusations in 2015 that went unnoticed but still took a heavy toll on midlevel banks.

Money laundering is a crime that occurs more often than the general public realizes, and in most sectors of our economy. In the past year alone, charity officials, a mortuary owner, a church director and a doctor providing chemo treatments were at the center of appalling cases you probably never heard about.

1. Tayfun Karauzum, of Newport Beach, Calif., was sentenced to five years in prison for distributing $1 million to $2.5 million of Potion 9, which contained a solvent that metabolizes in the body to become gamma-Hydroxybutyrate, or GHB, a known date-rape drug. He then laundered the proceeds.

2. Charles and Diana Muir were sentenced to 48 and six months in prison, respectively, and forced to return the $1.1 million they stole from a 140-year-old college scholarship charity in Louisville, Ky. — the Woodcock Foundation — that was run by Charles Muir. The couple then laundered the proceeds through Diana Muir’s dental business.

To view the rest of the top 10 most unheralded, yet just as disturbing money laundering stories from 2015 please click here.







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