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July kicked off with the UK imposing sanctions, and Deutsche Bank landing a fine for Epstein ties

Sanctions and screening failures were certainly splashed all over the news this week in somewhat sensational ways.

Antonis Melis
July 10, 2020

Sanctions and screening failures were certainly splashed all over the news this week in somewhat sensational ways.

If the Epstein story wasn’t already drawing enough attention, now it certainly is with the latest headline that Deutsche Bank failed to carry out proper checks on Mr Epstein.  

Equally eye-opening was the UK Foreign Minister’s statement regarding the UKs first sanctions list, vowing that those on it will “not be able to launder your blood money in this country”.

See below for a quick overview of these stories.  

Deutsche Bank is fined $150 million by a New York regulator for ties with Jeffrey Epstein

Epstein was a client with Deutsche Bank for five years from 2013 – 2018. During that period Deutsche Bank were informed of Epstein’s negative behaviours and confronted him, at his residence, on the allegations. They were “satisfied” with his answers and did nothing further to confirm the allegations.  

This lax attitude lead to a $150 million fine from New York State Department of Financial Services as they found “significant compliance failures” in how the bank dealt with Epstein.  

This story illustrates that regardless of policies and procedures, banks appear to be willing to do business with ‘high risk’ individuals for profit. How many other, high risk and perhaps low-profile, individuals do banks need to review and reconsider doing business with?  

The UK instated its first set of sanctions since leaving the EU

Dominic Raab placed his first set of sanctions targeting 49 individuals and groups linked with serious human rights violations. These sanctions have been set in place to prevent money laundering and the financing of malicious organisations.  

Those on the sanctions list will face a travel ban and have their assets frozen. Raab added that they will “not be able to launder your blood money in this country”. Raab will hope that the UN, EU, US & Canada follow suit with their own set of sanctions.  

Dutch banks unite to create their own transaction monitoring utility

With numerous fines landing on European financial institutions, five banks in the Netherlands plan to use Transaction Monitoring Netherlands (TMNL) to collectively monitor unusual payments that may be linked with money laundering or the financing of terrorism.  

The TMNL will be developed in stages and will be done with the mindset that other banks may use it for their own transaction monitoring processes.  

President Chris Buijink of the Dutch Banking Association, says: “Really effective combating of this type of criminality is only possible through closer cooperation. This cooperation will have positive consequences throughout the chain from detection to prosecution. TMNL is an essential collective step that is a world first.”

Banks are known to not be willing to share information, which makes the TMNL a large change of heart and a “world’s first”, as described by Buijink.  

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