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UK updates on strategy to fight economic crime
Napier
May 7, 2021

The UK released an update on economic crime strategy.

AUSTRAC spells out requirements for high quality SMRs.

And brokers are at the heart of $100million Colombian money-laundering operation.

UK Government makes progress on tackling fraud and economic crime

On Tuesday, the UK government published an update on its progress in fighting financial crime and how it hopes to ensure the UK remains a transparent, safe and open place for global business.

The plan, which launched in 2019, set out an ambitious programme to tackle fraud and money laundering, and explains how the UKs public and private sectors would work together to improve their response to economic crime.

The statement of progress shows that the government has:

• Improved their understanding of the threat. This includes the publication of the UK’s National Risk Assessment of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing and the setting up of a “Fusion Cell” in the National Economic Crime Centre

• Addressed vulnerabilities in the system, which includes updating anti-money laundering requirements

• Investment in law enforcement, as an extra £63 million was allocated to the Home Office to drive efforts in dealing with economic crime and cracking down on fraud

John Glen, Economic Secretary to the Treasury said “Our collective efforts have already made it harder for criminals to abuse the UK’s global financial centre but there remains a lot to do. It is crucial that we continue to work closely with public and private sector partners to understand the threat, address vulnerabilities and crack down on illicit financial activity.”

Find out more on the UKs progress on Gov.uk

AUSTRAC spells out requirements for suspicious matter reports

Australian financial institutions, casinos and betting companies has been given detailed guidance on how to submit suspicious matter reports.

Following the soar in the volume of suspicious matter reports (SMRs) being submitted in the wake of AUTRAC’s high profile actions against Commonwealth Bank and Westpac, the regulator reminded reporting entities exactly what is required to be submitted in updated guidance this week.

The guidance includes the requirement to submit a SMR within three days or less, inform law enforcement where application as well as direction on crime types and keywords that should not be shared.

Reports should be submitted “in plain English, with information structured in a clear and logical way”. It wants reports of the events in chronological order and has instructed entities to avoid acronyms and jargon.

The detailed guidance will help firms move away submitting from poor or defensive reports.

“SMRs that contain incomplete, incorrect and disorganised explanations can make further analysis difficult, if not impossible,” AUSTRAC said.

AUSTRAC highlighted that in instances where the suspicion pointed to a person or child being in immediate risk of harm, police should be contacted immediately; and if there is activity that could relate to terrorism financing, reports should be made within 24 hours.

Find out more on Australian Financial Review.

One Colombian gang laundered $100 million in a year

In a case that reveals how brokers offer money-laundering services to a spectrum of criminal clientele, a group of people in Colombia have been accused of laundering nearly $100 million which belonged to criminal groups ranging from a Mexican cartel to a Colombian drug gang.

The group known as “Los Brokers” relied on a group of Colombian business owners, “facilitators”, who lent their names, bank accounts and businesses to receive large sums of money that came from false export contracts with front companies in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Chile.

This full-service money laundering operation shows the emergence of specialised third parties that provide access to pre-established corruption networks to efficiently wash funds.

Los Brokers were most effective between 2017 and 2018, where their criminal network laundered $98 million in drug cash.

Find out more on how they laundered their cash on Insight Crime.

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