This week, it’s all about accountability in the global fight against financial crime as the head of the Mexican anti-corruption unit quits after queries about the propriety of his lavish wedding in Guatemala, the UAE announces more stringent financial reporting requirements for gold refineries to counter illicit trading, and a former Mozambiquan finance minister- currently jailed in South Africa- is set to be extradited to the US to face money laundering and fraud charges.
Find out more on these stories below.
Mexico’s anti-money laundering chief resigns amid questions over financing of his ‘sumptuous’ wedding in Guatemala
The head of Mexico’s financial intelligence unit (FIU), Mr Santiago Nieto, announced his resignation via Twitter on Monday, following criticism over how he afforded his recent marriage in Antigua, Guatemala, and the dubious conduct of several of his guests en route to the extravagant event.
In the tweet, Mr Nieto cited his loyalty to Mexico’s president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador- who advocates for austerity and anti-corruption as platforms of his regime’s administration- and his love for his new wife, Ms Carla Humphrey, as reasons for his decision. Though he noted that criticism originally stemmed from the conduct of wedding attendees, rather than his own.
Flown into Guatemala City on a private jet with Mr Nieto, a personal assistant to Juan Francisco Ealy, general director of the prominent Mexican daily, El Universal, had US$35,000 (£26,142) of undeclared cash confiscated. Another fellow passenger and wedding guest, the now ex-Mexico City tourism minister, Paola Félix Díaz, also resigned amid the furore about her use of a private aircraft to attend the wedding.
President Obrador publicly accepted the FIU chief’s resignation earlier this week, noting that “[Mr] Nieto is a professional lawyer, upright, we have a lot of respect for him, but we cannot tolerate any act of extravagance, any act that goes against republican austerity.”
Read more on this story at Mexico News Daily.
Annual audits for UAE gold refineries to combat financial crime in the bullion trade
The United Arab Emirates is set to introduce new financial reporting requirements for all gold refineries. The new regulations will see them undergoing annual, independent audits of their procurement processes to prove that they have adhered to responsible resourcing guidelines when choosing suppliers. As a prominent gold bullion trading hub with an increasing number of refineries, the UAE said it regards improved anti-money laundering controls and enforcement as a ‘national priority’.
The country’s Economy Ministry believes that the UAE Good Delivery Standard will improve adherence to the current AML regime as it pertains to the sourcing of gold bullion suppliers. The precious metal can be mined in dire circumstances in poorly regulated countries, putting workers’ lives and health in peril, and its proceeds potentially sponsor terrorism, regional conflicts, and other crime.
Commenting on the expected impact of the Good Delivery Standard, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, Thani Al Zeyoudi, said that it "will further strengthen the UAE's AML/CFT framework, which is a critical national priority and a central focus of the UAE leadership.”
The details of the decision will be announced at a precious metals industry conference in Dubai later in November.
Read more on this story at Reuters.
Ex-finance minister of Mozambique set to face corruption and money laundering charges in the US
The High Court of Gauteng province, South Africa, ruled this week that Mozambique’s former finance minister, Mr Manuel Chang - who has been incarcerated in South Africa for almost three years - will be extradited to the US to face several criminal charges, including fraud, money laundering and corruption.
Mr Chang was arrested in late 2018 at South Africa’s OR Tambo International Airport in Johannesburg while in transit, on a US arrest warrant. The charges pertain to Mr Chang’s alleged involvement in a $2b (£1.5b) corruption case during his ten years (2005 to 2015) at the helm of poverty-stricken Mozambique’s finance ministry.
He stands accused of approving £1.5b worth of illegally guaranteed loans during 2013 and 2014, to three then-new security industry companies from several European banks, in clear breach of the country’s budget laws at the time.
The High Court decision overturned that of South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola, who ruled in August 2021 that Mr Chang be extradited to his homeland to face charges there, a decision that was suspended when Mozambique’s Budget Monitoring Forum - an umbrella organisation of watchdog NGOs - intervened, citing fears that he would escape prosecution if returned to Mozambique, and should rather be tried in the US.
Mr Chang remains in Gauteng’s Modderbee prison while his fate is decided.
Read more on this story at aa.com.
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