From Simon Cowell to David Cameron’s father, the Panama Papers offer up a rogue’s gallery of wealthy UK citizens
Which country/region has seen its highest profile citizens, celebrities and politicians most exposed by the Panama Papers? For Western nations it is the UK, by a landslide. From Prime Minister David Cameron’s father to American Idol creator and producer Simon Cowell to Margaret Thatcher’s son, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ, which released the Panama Papers) and the press in the UK have produced a rogue’s gallery of wealthy actors. Keep in mind, none of the UK’s ‘dirty dozen’ has admitted to any wrongdoing.
In the event you don’t have time to review the Panama Papers’ data, the infographic posted above that lays out the case for each member of the ‘dirty dozen’. . . To view a full size render of this graphic, please click here: The Panama Papers and the UK’s ‘Dirty Dozen’ — Medium
Banks should embrace process improvements now in order to improve the bottom line and pave a smooth road to the future
As the financial industry continues to evolve in the face of rapid technology advances and ever-changing compliance regulations, banks today are faced with the challenge of constantly retooling internal processes or risk falling behind more enlightened competitors. Rather than fear the dynamics of change, however, banks should lean into it and embrace process improvements and reengineering as ways to improve the bottom line. By taking a deep look into your bank’s programs and processes, you’ll likely find several opportunities where simple process changes can improve efficiencies across the board.
In fact, here are four areas of focus where you can easily start the process:
1) Know your high-risk customers
One of the most frequently asked question by regulators is how many high-risk customers do you have? If you are not able to answer that question, it’s time to make improvements. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: 4 process tactics banks should employ today — Medium
Canadian authorities creative in shutting down financial crimes
A few weeks ago, I warned readers about the money laundering avalanche that could be headed straight for our northern neighbors, Canada. In an effort to stave off this avalanche, the Canadian government has taken impressive proactive steps as of late. In the first example, we see an unlikely pairing of agencies to curb money laundering in casinos; in the second, the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) takes on the heavy role of bringing the Canadian real estate market up to speed on anti-money laundering regulations and compliance.
An unlikely pair
When you think about anti-money laundering efforts in casinos you probably don’t assume that a gang unit will come to the rescue, but that’s exactly what is happening today in British Columbia. The newly formedJoint Illegal Investigation Team, which will be housed within the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit (CFSEU-BC), combines an anti-gang agency with the Ministry of Finance’s Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch. As a team, its mission is to investigate groups that use gambling facilities to legalize financial proceeds from criminal activity.
The task force creation is a key part of Phase 3 of the BC government’s anti-money laundering strategy, which launched in 2011. This action seems overdue considering that money laundering activity in casinos is reaching a boiling point. One chart shared by the task force indicated that the total amount of suspicious cash transactions since April of last year totaled $119.1 million. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: Money launderers get the gangster treatment — 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 soft underbelly of rural America provides perfect hiding places for even the most unusual schemers
If you want to find bison roaming freely on the prairie or long, dusty roads where the vistas stretch for empty miles, Oklahoma is where you want to be. Until recently, this sparsely populated landscape is also where you could have found a lucrative horse ranch that two leaders of Los Zetas, a ruthless Mexican drug cartel, used to launder more than $22 million.
Money laundering in America isn’t just happening in the more obvious places such as Atlantic City’s gambling district or Manhattan’s high-priced real estate market. Thieves are getting craftier…and thinking outside of the box when it comes to choosing a home base for illegal operations.
One wonders why federal authorities didn’t figure out in quicker fashion that the Oklahoma horse ranch was shady, since a number of the racing horses had vanity names such as “Number One Cartel” and “Morning Cartel.” But eventually, justice was served. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: Where Money Laundering Hides in America — Medium
If you believe some of today’s headlines, the answer is yes
According to a report issued by Transparency International, Canada is one of the least corrupt countries in the world. And, thanks to its FINTRAC unit, it has long been rumored to be one of the toughest enforcers of money laundering regulations at the government level unit. However, reports are now emerging in its media outlets about new money laundering opportunities and threats in Canada — proof that no country is truly immune to the evils of financial fraud. My take? Since these are just threats and not real cases, I think they may be indicators of Canada’s strength, rather than weakness.
I fear too many North American readers of news stories today only catch the headlines and fail to digest the actual content. They see a headline that says liquor stores, casinos or real estate companies in Canada could fall victim to money laundering schemes, and walk away from the article thinking that the country has somehow lost its tough grip on its regulations. In actuality, nothing could be farther from the truth.
Unlike most government operations, FINTRAC is very proactive. Here are some examples. . . Click here to read the rest of this story: Is a money laundering avalanche about to smack Canada? — 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.
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. . .
In 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.
U.S. applying anti-money laundering rules to digital currencies
Digitally encrypted cryptocurrencies are hot, particularly as consumer confidence in the current global money infrastructure wanes. So what exactly is a cryptocurrency? The most visible example, Bitcoin bypasses traditional banking systems and operates as an alternative to cash. It’s decentralized, virtual and somewhat anonymous, and was originally developed to handle transactions over the Internet. The currency units consist of a series of numbers that can be traded between accounts, or “wallets,” for services or goods; when it launched in 2009, Bitcoin transactions happened without any government interference (or oversight).
Today, Bitcoin’s not just popular with the average consumer; organized crime and the criminal element have figured out how to use it to efficiently launder money, just as they did with the original cryptocurrency, eGold. In fact, I recently wrote about a money laundering case involving Bitcoin and two secret servicemen who attempted to launder a considerable amount of Bitcoin stolen from Silk Road. For this reason, the U.S. is now applying the anti-money laundering (AML) rules initially written to govern traditional financial organizations to all digital cash companies.
Perhaps even more interesting is that. . . Click here to read the rest of this article on Medium.com.