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AmBank to pay £500 million in 1MDB settlement

Malaysian regulators hand AmBank a £500 million 1MDB-linked settlement, FinCEN looks forward to regulatory changes and Cyprus lifts the blinds on Ultimate Beneficial Ownership.

Antonis Melis
March 5, 2021

AmBank is still feeling the consequences of 1MDB as they are handed a hefty £500 million fine for their contributions to the scandal.

FinCEN is optimistic about their upcoming regulatory changes spurred on by the new anti-money laundering legislation that was part of the US annual defence-policy bill.

And Cyprus hopes to clear its reputation by implementing an ultimate beneficial ownership register for the thousands of companies on the island.

Find out more below.

Malaysia’s AmBank to pay £500 million in 1MDB-linked settlement

Malaysian banking group AMMB Holdings Berhad (AmBank) said on Friday it will pay the government 2.83 billion ringgit (£500 million) to settle claims linked to a massive financial scandal at state fund 1MDB, a hefty payment that is expected to have a material impact on the group’s earnings.

AmBank Group has been under scrutiny over its role in the alleged theft of $4.5 billion from 1Malaysia Development Berhad, a state fund former prime minister Najib Razak set up in 2009. Malaysian government said in November that 1MDB was still $7.8 billion in debt following the scandal.

As part of the settlement, Malaysia’s securities regulator will require AmBank to implement corrective measures, including putting in place systems and processes to strengthen its due diligence framework.

FinCEN must staff up to fulfil reform mandate, director says

On Tuesday, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) Director Kenneth Blanco said that implementing the new the anti-money-laundering legislation, which was passed in January as part of an annual defense-policy bill, is their priority.

That means making sure FinCEN is “fully staffed” and “fully resourced,” and conducts the necessary outreach to carefully write regulations surrounding the law, said Kenneth Blanco.

The anti-money-laundering bill requires FinCEN to build a corporate ownership registry that can help law-enforcement officials trace anonymous shell companies and track illicit money.

FinCEN will need to propose regulations that lay out exactly who will be required to file ownership information with the agency, and how often. It will also have to decide who can access it, and how.

According to the law, FinCEN has been given a year to write the regulations, and a further two to put them into practice.

Find out more on the Wall Street Journal.

Cyprus to lift veil of secrecy with register of company owners

In the coming months, Cyprus plans to launch a register that identifies the owners of thousands of companies on the island, removing a veil of secrecy that many believed to have helped criminals hide their ill-gotten gains.

Details of these of companies will be collected from March 16 and then entered into a so-called Ultimate Beneficial Owner (UBO) register.

“We will give companies six months to collect all the details to enter into the system,” said Antonia Faita-Stavride, a senior administrative officer at Cyprus’s Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry, who is coordinating the project.

Despite these changes, experts predict some companies will shift authority rather than reveal their beneficial owners.

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