U.S. places sanctions on group of suspected money launderers

October 24, 2016

The United States is once again taking steps to prevent and deter money laundering. Earlier this month, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned the son, nephew and brother of Altaf Khanani, who has been accused of running a global operation that launders money for organized crime groups, drug-traffickers, and terrorist groups. Called the Altaf Khanani Money Laundering Organization, the group launders money by transferring it through banks, money services businesses (MSBs) and real-estate investments on behalf of other sanctioned groups and individuals. The accused men have all allegedly participated in the organization’s activities, which are based out of Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates.

Pakistani national Altaf Khanani has a history of money laundering: in 2015 U.S. authorities arrested him for laundering billions of dollars for high-profile groups such as the Taliban. He is currently facing 14 money laundering charges and is expected to go to trial as early as next month. The Treasury Department alleges that his son, Obaid Khanani, headed up the operation after his father’s arrest, and was also at one point the senior manager of an exchange that was placed under sanctions.

For his role in the activities, Khanani’s nephew invested in real estate on behalf of the organization, while Khanani’s brother was also “heavily involved in laundering criminal proceeds via money service businesses”, according to the Treasury. A fourth man has also been accused of moving funds for the group.

In addition to these sanctions, the Treasury has blacklisted a number of businesses in Pakistan and Dubai for being owned by the accused men or for being associated with money laundering. Blacklisting these individuals and companies prevents them from accessing any assets they may have in the U.S., and bars Americans from conducting business with them.

With the number of sanctioned organizations and individuals growing every day, it’s increasingly difficult to ensure that your company does not do business with these groups or complete transactions that regulators may determine to be illicit. Recently we hosted a free webinar: ‘Sanctions Risk—What’s the Problem?’. In this presentation, we discussed why sanctions are imposed, how you can identify sanctioned entities, and the best practices for implementing a comprehensive and risk-based approach to sanctions screening. Watch the full recording of the webinar here.

 

About Andrew Simpson:

Andrew Simpson has close to two decades of experience in the information systems audit and security business; specifically data analytics, interrogation and forensics. He is a regular contributor to various auditing conferences and is acknowledged as an expert on continuous controls monitoring and revenue assurance.

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