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$33 million confiscated in Bitcoin and U.S banks navigate cannabis

Officials seek a 6-month minimum sentence for SARs leak, U.S banks look to onboard the cannabis industry and Dutch police seize $33 million in Bitcoin

Antonis Melis
October 30, 2020

Dutch officials arrested a couple for illegal money transmissions and money laundering which lead to the seizure of their 2,532 bitcoins valued at $33 million.

In the U.S the growing cannabis and hemp market is struggling to find a way into financial institutions as the cannabis industries has stringent regulations and often thin lines.

And more on the FinCEN files as prosecutors are looking for a minimum sentence of 6 months for the individual responsible for the leak of over 2,000 Suspicious Activity Reports.

Read more on these stories below.

Dutch Police Seize $33 Million in Bitcoin from Couple Accused of Money Laundering

Dutch officials have arrested and charged a man and his wife for illegal money transmissions and money laundering, which led to the seizure of their 2,532 bitcoins valued at $33 million.

According to the Dutch Public Prosecution Service from the Rotterdam District Court, the two suspects laundered close to $19 million using bitcoin during the last two years and Dutch prosecutors noted during the trial that the traders did not leverage proper KYC/AML guidelines while operating the business.

The couple will face two and a half years in prison for their crimes and will have to pay fines individually.

Read the full article here.

Feds seek at least 6 months in prison for SARs leak to BuzzFeed

Natalie Edwards pleaded guilty in January to a single felony charge of conspiracy to violate the Bank Secrecy Act by disclosing “Suspicious Activity Reports” to a Buzz Feed reporter. Prosecutors are recommending a prison sentence of six months or more for Natalie who admitted to leaking more than 2,000 highly confidential bank reports.

“It was a betrayal of the public, risked hindering both ongoing and future investigations, and was a deliberate, serious, and repeated crime. It demands serious punishment,” prosecutors wrote “It is imperative to send a resounding message to individuals with access to sensitive, protected information that with access comes responsibility, and flagrant violations of the public trust will be met with real consequences.”

The leaked reports were used for stories about special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and suggested that banks were complicit in the spread of dirty money by failing to stop it.

This leak took over many headlines and our CEO Julian Dixon added to it with his blog – The fallout from the FinCEN files.  

U.S. Banks Navigate Hazy Regulations to Serve Cannabis Businesses

In the US, many financial institutions are looking to offer banking services to a growing market of legal cannabis growers and distributors, however these institutions are limited by spotty regulations and expensive compliance efforts.

The sale of products with high concentrations of tetrahydrocannbinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) – the chemical in cannabis that causes psychedelic affects and a popular food and drink additive – are estimated to total around $34 billion according to New Frontier Data.  

FinCEN have offered some guidance for banks earlier in June, and Peoples Bank, a Newton, N.C.-based community bank have set up detailed categories for the kinds of businesses they could encounter, from growers to processors to dealers, and has relied on documentation, site visits and lab tests to ensure compliance, said Heather Allen, a Bank Secrecy Act officer at Peoples Bank.

Banks are often slow to move, but could navigating regulations in this market better prepare their institution for the future?

Worried about your institution’s compliance?

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