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Crackdown on money mules and continued AML failures
Antonis Melis
December 4, 2020

The sixth European Money Mule Action (EMMA 6) saw police forces across Europe coming together to fight the global threat of money mules.

A spotlight on JPMorgan and Standard Chartered’s lax attitudes saw them continue to move the money of a fraudster for eight years, after he was first accused.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has broadened its supervision and enforcement crackdown, as pawnbroker and pay day lender Cash Converters has been referred to them for suspected AML failures.  

Read more on this week’s headlines below.

Worldwide crackdown on money laundering ‘mules’: 422 arrests

According to Europol, police forces in 26 European countries joined forces in a worldwide crackdown on money launderers and their oblivious recruits.

EMMA 6 was co-ordinated by Europol and organised by the European Banking Federation, Interpol and Western Union. The operation identified 4,031 money mules and arrested 422 people, including 227 individuals whose jobs were to recruit money mules.

“We have noticed that criminals try to make clever use of impressionable and vulnerable young people. They try to transfer criminal money quickly through their account. Money mules are an essential link in that process,” said Stijn De Ridder, commissioner of Antwerp police.

“It is a shame that young people allow themselves to be seduced by such empty promises. Because many have never come into contact with the police before,” Commissioner De Ridder said.

Find out more on money mulling and how to identify this activity in – Identifying money mules is difficult by design

The public knew he was crooked in 2009. Big banks helped him stash millions until 2017.

JPMorgan and Standard Chartered Bank helped move $9.3 million for a New Jersey con man and his companies after he was first publicly accused of fraud in 2008, according to an analysis of FinCEN reports by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Lawyer Anna Brown representing clients who had been defrauded said that “the first thing my clients did was complain to their banks,” and added “it’s impossible that the banks didn’t know. Everything was on the public record.”

Financial institutions are often slow to react, but eight years of knowing an individual has been accused of fraud is an attitude that is too relaxed to effectively battle money laundering and financial crime.

Find out more on this story from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Cash Converters in AUSTRAC’s gunsights, as regulator sizes up next enforcement targets

Australia’s largest payday lender, pawnbroker Cash Converters, is the latest entity to be placed in the cross hairs of AUSTRAC’s enforcement division for suspected long-running anti-money laundering failures.

Cash Converters’ compliance controls have been described as deeply inadequate, as they have failed to implement a consistent AML/CTF program across their international network of franchised stores.

In early August the pawnbroker received a s167 notice from AUSTRAC which is often an indicator that further enforcement action is being considered. Since receiving the notice, Cash Converters has seen a number of senior resignations including a Chairman and the Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee.

Find out more on this story on Thomson Reuters

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