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UK MPs mourn lost opportunity to form a single financial crime agency

UK MPs push for specialist fraught fighting unit and the BVI premier arrested for drug trafficking and money laundering.

Napier AI
April 29, 2022

This week, UK MPs pushed for a specialised fraud-fighting unit as government faced the ongoing economic crime bill inquiry; the British Virgin Islands premier was arrested for drug trafficking and money laundering; and Australia’s financial watchdog tasked financial services businesses with countering cybercrime.

Find out more on these stories below.

UK MPs lament government’s ‘missed opportunity’ to form single fraud agency in shadow of economic crime bill

As the proposed Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022 looms over the UK parliament, an influential lobby of MPs suggested that not establishing a single financial crime-busting agency “may be a significant missed opportunity.”

Chairperson of the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) Mel Stride voiced this sentiment in the context of proposed legislation designed to combat the fraudulent online advertising of fake financial products and services. The TSC felt that a single regulatory entity to address such abuses is better suited to the task that the current multi-agency regime.

In October 2021, Stride commented that “there has been a huge rise in online crime, and as a committee we want to gain a clearer understanding of what is needed to ensure tech platforms are safe spaces for people to operate and not fall victim to scams or fraud.” The economic crime bill inquiry also suggested that online platforms compensate victims of scam advertising.

While the UK government did not rule the reparation proposal out, it defended its multiple agencies on the basis that specialised expertise simplified the task of differentiating one online criminal typology from another.

The government added that it was “working closely with technology companies and partners in law enforcement and civil society to consider every possible option to support victims of online fraud and to mitigate the harm that they have experienced.”

Read more on this story at ITV.

Andrew Fahie: British Virgin Islands premier arrested on charges 'related to drugs trafficking and money laundering'

An operation lead by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) detained the British Virgin Islands (BVI) Premier earlier this week.

DEA agents posingas cocaine traffickers arrested Mr Fahie at an airport in Miami. Charges filed in the US said Mr Fahie had agreed to a US $700,000 (£560,000) payment to allow traffickers to use BVI ports.

A senior BVI port official and his son were also arrested this week , both in connection to the undercover DEA case. The trio has been charged with conspiracy to import cocaine into the US, as well as conspiring to commit money laundering, for which the region is infamous.

The DEA stated that Mr Fahie also discussed setting up pre-arranged drug busts of money and low-quality drugs to build the perception that he was fighting this scourge in his region.

Read more on this story at BBC.

Australia’s financial crime watchdog seeks financial services business’ co-operation to crack down on cybercrime

On Thursday, 28th of April, 2022, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) stated that it intends to work closely with businesses operating in the country’s financial sector to fight criminal abuse of digital currencies and target ransomware.

AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose explained this position by saying that “financial service providers need to be alert to the signs of criminal use of digital currencies, including their use in ransomware attacks.”

AUSTRAC cited research indicating that the 500 ransomware attacks reported in the 2020-2021 financial year represented a 15% increase since 2019-2021. Additionally, the agency announced the publication of two new financial crime guides: one focused on rooting out ransomware; the other on countering criminal misuse of digital currencies.

Responding to the AUSTRAC statement, Blockchain Australia CEO Steve Vallas commented that “the use of digital currencies for criminal purposes has no place in our sector. Open dialogue, pro-active guidance and strong relationships between Government and industry are necessary to ensure businesses can identify and report behaviour that puts Australians at risk of harm.”

Read more on this story at Independent Financial Advisor.

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Photo by Tom Athawes on Unsplash