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Spain and US dock sanctioned Russian oligarch’s luxury yacht

Authorities seized a sanctioned Russian businessman’s yacht; the UK Treasury is to launch an NFT; and Colombia extended reporting deadlines for cryptoasset traders.

Napier
April 8, 2022

The last week was anything but plain sailing for regulators and criminals globally, as Spanish and US authorities seized a Putin-linked Russian businessman’s yacht; the UK Treasury got set to launch a non-fungible token; and Colombia’s money laundering watchdog extended the reporting deadlines of the country’s cryptoasset traders.

Find out more on these stories below.

Spanish and US police confiscate yacht of Putin-linked Russian billionaire as part of Ukraine-related sanctions drive

On the 4th of April, law enforcement agents of the Spanish Civil Guard acting on the request of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) seized Tango, a 255-foot Motor Yacht belonging to sanctioned Russian businessman Viktor Vekselberg, at the Marina Real of Palma de Mallorca in Spain’s Balearic islands.

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that the $90m (£69m) luxury mega-yacht should be forfeited for violating US laws around sanctions, money laundering, and bank fraud.

Vekselberg, a Putin-linked billionaire at the head of Moscow-based mining and technology company, Renova Group, is no stranger to action from American authorities, having been previously sanctioned along with six other Russian oligarchs by the US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) in April of 2018.

The yacht seizure is another salvo fired by US authorities, who are intent on “seizing and freezing” the assets and funds of Russia’s wealthy elites in response to the widely condemned invasion of Ukraine.

DOJ Attorney General Merrick B. Garland issued a stern warning to Russia’s oligarchs, stating that “together, with our international partners, we will do everything possible to hold accountable any individual whose criminal acts enable the Russian government to continue its unjust war."

Read more on this story at The Scotsman.

UK Royal Mint to develop an NFT as part of new cryptoasset trading regime

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced on the 4th of April 2022 that the Royal Mint is set to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) as part of a broader plan to transform the UK into world-leading cryptocurrency technology hub. The plan forms part of a raft of measures intended to thrust the country to the forefront of cryptoasset technology development.

As well as the Royal Mint’s NFT, the proposals include:

• Establishing a “financial market infrastructure sandbox” to encourage and enable creativity and innovation.

• Starting a “cryptoasset engagement group” to liaise between role-players in the sector.

• Assessing and improving the UK’s tax regime in a way that encourages and enhances the cryptocurrency industry.

• Introducing regulated stablecoins as recognised methods of payment.

Commenting on the planned measures, Chancellor Sunak noted that the Treasury wants to “see the businesses of tomorrow – and the jobs they create - here in the UK, and by regulating effectively we can give them the confidence they need to think and invest long-term.”

Read more on this story at Sky News.

Colombian AML regulators extend digital currency transaction reporting deadlines

Colombia’s money laundering detection and enforcement agency, the Information and Financial Analysis Unit (UIAF), extended the deadline for cryptoasset exchanges and traders to comply with digital transaction reporting requirements by two months.

Affected role-players in the sector now have until the 1st of June 2022 to report certain kinds of cryptocurrency transactions as part of the UIAF’s drive to combat the illicit financial flows enabled by cryptoasset trading.

The deadline extension gives industry participants in Colombia’s burgeoning cryptocurrency sector more time to achieve compliance with the UIAF’s resolution 314. Issued in December 2021, the resolution requires that all single cryptocurrency transactions of over $150 (£114.90), or transactions with several digital tokens collectively worth over $450 (£344.70), be reported to the UIAF. The resolution also requires cryptoasset exchanges to report suspicious transactions.

Colombia’s anti-money laundering (AML) regime has enjoyed considerable progress in 2022. In February, the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) latest mutual evaluation report noted that the country has been favourably re-rated from partially to fully compliant on several FATF standard indicators.

Read more at CFX Magazine.

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Photo by Tanja Cotoaga on Unsplash