In the news: What’s making AML headlines this week

April 17, 2018

Mark Zuckerberg being grilled by congress is not the only thing making headlines recently. Here are a few anti-money laundering (AML) stories that you’ll want to read.

United States

The new rule requiring financial instructions to identify the real owners of companies when they open a bank account will not be strictly enforced when it comes into effect on May 11th. According to several regulators at the ACAMS conference that took place in Hollywood, Florida last week, the rule will be lightly enforced—at least in the early days.

Spencer Doak, from the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s director of policy on AML compliance, shared that ‘’there will be a time to look at where they are at, as it’s hard to imagine there will be any egregious issues in the first month or two.” Reinforcing Mr. Doak’s point, Lourdes Gonzalez, assistant chief counsel for sales practices in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s trading and markets division, stated that “we’re not going to be walking in on May 11th and start bringing enforcement.”

Denmark

Ongoing allegations of lax controls in Danske Bank’s Estonian operations has led to the resignation of Lars Morch. Mr. Morch was a member of the bank’s management board responsible for business banking, including in Estonia.

Danske Bank is being investigated by Estonian and Danish regulators over potential money laundering that took place through its Estonian operations from 2007–2015. Danske’s senior executives are now facing scrutiny about what they knew and why they didn’t act sooner to address the problem.

Danish newspaper Berlingske reported in February that the bank’s senior officials were notified in 2013 of allegations that a relative of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s intelligence services were laundering money through the Estonian branch. Danske has now hired a law firm to conduct their own investigation.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s AML laws may soon regulate cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. Earlier this year, the new head of the country’s central bank, Governor Yang Chin-long, suggested, “that the Ministry of Justice include Bitcoin into the purview of Taiwan’s Money Laundering Control Act due to the digital currency’s lack of regulation.” The Governor shared these remarks just a few weeks after Taiwan’s Finance Minister stated that the country should be taxing Bitcoin and that his department was studying the issue.

Canada

According to its 2016–2017 annual report, FINTRAC, Canada’s financial intelligence unit, Canadian banks are doing a tremendous job of fighting human trafficking in the sex trade by focusing on the money-laundering component of the crime. However, a second, confidential report received by Canada’s Finance minister tells a very different story.

This confidential document, obtained by CBC News under the Access to Information Act, found “significant” problems at six of Canada’s banks, including problems in providing FINTRAC with suspicious transaction reports (STRs). The report goes on to state that “67% of the banks were found to have significant levels of non-compliance.”

This is not the first time FINTRAC has protected Canada’s banks. In 2016, it announced a Canadian bank was being fined $1.15 million for breaking money-laundering rules, but refused to name the bank publicly—even after Manulife Bank of Canada admitted a year later that it was the bank that had been fined.

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About Anu Sood:

Anu Sood is the Director of Product and Corporate Marketing at CaseWare Analytics and is responsible for the company’s global marketing strategy. Prior to CaseWare Analytics, Anu worked in various roles in the high-tech industry and her accomplishments range from writing software for telephone switches to launching a new global satellite communication service. Anu has extensive experience in strategic marketing, corporate communications, demand generation, content marketing, product management, product marketing and technology development. 

Connect:    Anu Sood 

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