Businesses under microscope in money laundering reforms

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COMPANIES that facilitate or enable money laundering will be taken to task by the government as it looks to declare war on those who move, hide or use the proceeds of crime or corruption.

The Treasury and the Home Office have announced a new action plan for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance, three weeks before the prime minister speaks before a global anti-corruption summit.

The action plan intends to create an ‘enhanced law enforcement’ against the threat the UK finance system faces, including passing through ‘tough new legal powers’ to tackle criminals and the financing of terrorist organisations.

Also on the agenda is to reform the supervisory regime so the government can bring companies that facilitate money laundering to task, as well as increasing the ‘international reach’ of law enforcement agencies.

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Many Vancouver real estate firms failing to follow anti-money laundering laws

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New evidence suggests that dozens of Metro Vancouver real estate firms are failing to adhere to anti-money laundering laws.

Vancouver’s hectic, high-priced real estate market can be a great place for money launderers to ply their trade, which is why federal financial regulators decided to investigate 80 realtors and real estate brokers.

“Nobody is watching the henhouse other than the foxes,” BC NDP Leader John Horgan said. “(Housing minister) Rich Coleman has said over and again, ‘We’re in touch with the market because we talk to the Real Estate Board.’ That’s important but we need more than that.”

Of the 80 realtor offices investigated by the federal money-laundering watchdog, 55 had significant or very significant deficiencies when it came collecting key information from buyers.

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Anti-money laundering watchdog’s secrecy a disservice to Canadian banking industry

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The federal anti-money laundering watchdog’s secrecy over identifying the first bank ever fined for breaching its standards has smeared the reputation of the entire industry, a financial sector advocate said Thursday.

The federal anti-money laundering watchdog’s secrecy over identifying the first bank ever fined for breaching its standards has smeared the reputation of the entire industry, a financial sector advocate said Thursday.

Janet Ecker, president of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance, is calling on the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (Fintrac) to name the bank recently fined $1.1 million for failing to report a suspicious transaction and various other transfers.

“They should make the name public rather than tarring everyone,” she said.

“Our industry has an excellent reputation globally. So clarity is important to ensure we don’t suffer needless reputation risk.”

The failure to name the offending institution is a disservice to the industry because it paints an unfairly dubious picture of all players, said Ecker, a former Ontario finance minister who’s in China on a trade mission with Mayor John Tory.

 

Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing

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March 8, 2016 – Ottawa – Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada

Finance Minister Bill Morneau today tabled in Parliament the 2015 Annual Report of the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), Combating Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing. The report details the activities and operations that Canada’s financial intelligence unit carried out in 2014–15 to help protect Canadians and the integrity of Canada’s financial system.

Over this reporting period, FINTRAC provided a record 1,260 disclosures of actionable financial intelligence to its law enforcement and national security partners to assist their investigations of money laundering, terrorism financing and threats to the security of Canada. The Centre also developed indicators specific to individuals traveling abroad to assist terrorist organizations in order to facilitate the reporting by Canadian businesses of suspicious transactions related to the financing of terrorism. As well, FINTRAC worked with its counterparts on several international initiatives targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s funding sources.

The report also details the broad range of enabling and enforcement activities that the Centre undertook to ensure that businesses met their obligations under the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act, including conducting compliance examinations, levying administrative monetary penalties, providing policy interpretations, hosting conferences and addressing thousands of inquiries from businesses. The compliance efforts of Canadian businesses and, in particular, the financial transaction reports they provide to FINTRAC are the foundation of its analysis and the intelligence that it is able to provide to its law enforcement and national security partners.

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Paddy Power fined nearly £310k for anti-money laundering, KYC shortcomings

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Irish betting operator Paddy Power has been hit with nearly £310k in fines and penalties following a UK Gambling Commission probe into the company’s anti-money-laundering and know-your-customer practices.

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On Monday, the UKGC released a statement detailing “failures in anti-money laundering controls” at Paddy’s online and land-based betting businesses. The UKGC said it was spotlighting Paddy’s “serious failings” in the hope that other UK-licensed operators would take note and avoid a similar trip to the regulatory woodshed.

In the first case detailed by the UKGC, Paddy’s retail operations were slammed for not properly ascertaining the source of the funds a high-value customer was wagering via fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT).

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Philippine Gaming Regulator Probes Alleged Money-Laundering

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The Philippines is training its sights on the gaming sector in a renewed push to curb the transmission of illicit funds.

The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation has started investigating news reports that as much as $100 million of suspicious funds were remitted to three casinos’ bank accounts, according to a statement Wednesday. The government agency expects the casinos, which it didn’t name, to submit their comments on the allegation this week.

The gaming regulator’s comments come a day after Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Teresita Herbosa warned the country risks returning to the list of nations that aren’t doing enough to fight money laundering if laws aren’t strengthened to include sectors like casinos among institutions required to report suspicious transactions. If that happens, Philippine transactions including overseas remittances that amounted to more than $25 billion last year would be subject to increased scrutiny.

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Industrial Bank of Korea to boost anti-money laundering efforts in N.Y.

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Industrial Bank of Korea will beef up measures at its New York branch to comply with U.S. money laundering rules in a pact reached with state and U.S. banking regulators, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) said on Tuesday.

The bank, as part of an agreement with the NYDFS and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, must submit plans to the two regulators in May explaining how it will improve its oversight of anti-money laundering efforts and reporting of suspicious banking activity, among other things, NYDFS said in a statement.

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California Wow: Land seized by anti-money laundering agency

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While reporting losses transferred 1.69 billion baht (99% of all transactions) abroad & to buy Phangnga land for founder Eric Levine from 2000-2011. Cheating customers by shutting down branches while selling memberships.

California Wow land seized by anti-money laundering agency

The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) has seized 88 million baht in land owned by defunct fitness firm California Wow as part of its fraud investigation.

Amlo secretary-general Seehanart Prayoonrat announced the decision Tuesday after a transaction committee considered a request by the Consumer Protection Police Division to freeze assets linked to the bankrupt fitness club for alleged money laundering and fraud.

The frozen assets included five parcels of land covering 18 rai in Phangnga.

Australia considers tighter anti-money laundering rules for real estate, gems

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A pink diamond is displayed along with tweezers and a magnifier in Hong Kong in this September 6, 2013 file photo. REUTERS/Bobby/Files

Australia is considering tightening its anti-money laundering regulations to include real estate agents and precious stone dealers, sources said, following red flags from a global watchdog over potential illicit cash entering the country.

While tighter regulations would not be aimed at inflows from any one country, Australian authorities are reacting following a surge of cash from wealthy Chinese buyers looking for a safe haven away from the market turmoil of their home markets.

Property has long been on Chinese buyers’ radar, but in recent months they have been snapping up Australia’s rare pink diamonds, part of an unprecedented capital outflow from China that is rattling Beijing.

The Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which assesses the ability of countries to fight illicit financial flows, told Reuters a lack of scrutiny by Australian authorities in the property and precious stones sectors was “an increasing high risk” in the global fight against money laundering and financing of extremists.

 

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Ireland to be reviewed on anti-money laundering and terrorism

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The Central Bank headquarters in Dublin

Ireland will face an international peer review by the end of the year on how well it is tackling the threat of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing activities.

A national steering committee, chaired by the Department of Finance and including the Central Bank, is preparing for the assessment.

The assessment will be carried out by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body.

Set up in 1989, the organisation leads the international fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Domhnall Cullinan, the head of the Central Bank’s anti-money laundering division, said the assessment will look at how effective Ireland is at stamping out the issue.

“In other words, how well does the country, including supervisors and industry, understand the money-laundering and terrorist finance risk and how effective are the steps that have been taken to prevent or mitigate those risks,” he said.

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