This week, as the end of 2022 draws near, the EU Council agreed to reinforce the region’s AML/CFT framework with a strengthened anti-money laundering rulebook. Meanwhile, Hong Kong police smashed a multi-million-dollar money laundering syndicate; and in the US, anti-corruption lobbyists and the White House alike pushed for a Congressional bill proposing wholesale AML law changes to be passed before the new year.
Find out more on these stories below.
EU Council achieves consensus on a tough new anti-money laundering rulebook
The Council of the European Union (EU Council) confirmed its stance on both an anti-money laundering (AML) regulation, and a new directive (AMLD6) on 7 December 2022. Combined with the transfer of funds agreement reached with the EU Parliament in 2021, the imminent new EU AML rulebook will set its sights on the cryptocurrency sector.
The coming anti-money laundering and terrorist financing (AML/CFT) rules will cover all role-players in the crypto trading sector, which will include requiring that crypto-asset service providers (CASPs) perform customer due diligence (CDD) checks. CASPs will also have to implement CDD checks for transactions of €1,000 or more and enhanced due diligence (EDD) measures when engaging in cross-border cryptocurrency trading.
As well as the crypto sector, businesses buying and selling minerals such as precious stones or metals, and those manufacturing valuables from them, will be subject to the new EU AML rules, along with dealers in antiquities and, artefacts, and the like.
The Court also agreed on a maximum cash transaction limit of €10,000 throughout the EU, with member states permitted to lower these limits domestically. This is with the aim to shut another avenue by which criminals currently launder illicit funds, while beneficial ownership rules will be made less opaque.
The proposal can be viewed here.
Read more on this story at consilium.europa.eu.
Hong Kong police detain money laundering gang that allegedly handled HK$168m
Hong Kong police have detained 13 suspected members of a money laundering syndicate which allegedly moved HK$168m through over 100 bank accounts from March 2022 up until the arrests were made on 5 December 2022.
The action day, which saw law enforcement agents arrest four suspects in Tsuen Wan, and the other nine in raids on premises in the New Territories, Kowloon, and Hong Kong Island, was the culmination of investigations into the syndicate which began in mid-2022.
The allegations against the 13 include that they committed 354 cases of theft by deception alone, worth HK$27m with 336 of the cases being online employment scams.
Police claim that the HK$168m in total was generated via a number of scams, both domestically and abroad, then laundered through 104 bank accounts over about nine months. The syndicate allegedly acquired the illicit portfolio of accounts by recruiting individuals to set them up, then handed the access details over to gang members, for a reward of HK$500 to HK$2,000 per account opened.
The accused face up to 14 years in prison and a 5HKm fine if convicted of money laundering. In light of the bust, Hong Kong police cautioned members of the public to not trade or sell their bank accounts, reminding them that they could also face money laundering charges.
Read more on this story at South China Morning Post.
US anti-corruption lobbyists and Biden administration back new Congressional AML bill
The US Congress is expected to debate the Establishing New Authorities for Businesses Laundering and Enabling Risks to Security Act (ENABLERS Act), in the coming weeks, with anti-corruption groups hopeful that it will be passed in 2022.
The bill is aimed at expanding “the definition of a financial institution for purposes of reporting suspicious transactions, anti-money laundering programs, and other related measures,” and will help ferret out Russian oligarchs and their fellow kleptocrats who seek out elaborate and ingenious ways of hiding their illicit wealth in the US.
Anti-Corruption group Transparency International’s U.S. Chapter’s Director of Advocacy, Scott Greytak, recently said of the ENABLERS Act- which enjoys both Republican and Democratic backing- that it “is the single most important anticorruption measure the United States Congress can adopt right now to prevent corrupt Russian officials and other kleptocrats from hiding and growing their dirty money in the United States.”
The bill also received the blessing of U.S. Presidency, with National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan stating at the 2022 International Anti-Corruption Conference (IACC) earlier in the week that “the ENABLERS Act would level the playing field by imposing anti-money laundering requirements on accountants, lawyers, and investment advisors.”
The Bill has also reportedly received support from groups in several Eastern European states.
Read more on this story at Reuters.
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Photo by Alexey Larionov on Unsplash