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US and UK strengthen their relationship on sanctions

Nicolette Brown
October 21, 2022

As the UK weathered the chaos surrounding the resignation of its newly instated Prime Minister, Liz Truss, the major headline this week in financial crime news saw His Majesty’s Treasury and its US counterpart plan closer collaboration in sanctioning bad actors globally. Elsewhere it emerged that the fugitive ‘Cryptoqueen’, who is on the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list, was tipped off about investigations prior to her disappearance and France appointed a new head of its regulatory body, the Financial Markets Authority (AMF).

Find out more on these stories below.

UK and US Treasuries reinforce mutual co-operation in sanctioning rogue states and kleptocrats

The UK’s HM Treasury’s sanctioning arm, the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) and its American equivalent, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), re-affirmed their commitment to closer and continued co-ordination in implementing financial sanctions worldwide after the conclusion on 13 October 2022 of a multi-day interactive workshop held in London.

The so-called OFAC-OFSI Enhanced Partnership of the close allies, which are two of the world’s largest government entities of their kind that have similar mandates and powers, is set to enhance both the OFSI’s expansion of its role,and flesh out OFAC’s trajectory as laid out in the US Treasury’s 2021 Sanctions Review.

In effect, the partnership is set to strengthen the exchange of international best practices while also enhancing the existing working relationships already in place at every level of both organisations.

Citing the economic impact which targeted financial sanctions have had on the Russian economy in the wake of Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the OFAC-OFSI Partnership is intended to further “protect the integrity of our financial systems as part of wider efforts to tackle corruption, kleptocracy, and other forms of economic crime.”

Read more on this story at OFSI Blog.

At-large ‘Cryptoqueen’ was allegedly forewarned that she was under investigation

The so-called ‘missing Cryptoqueen’, the Bulgarian-born German national Ruja Ignatova who vanished on 25 October 2017 in the wake of the collapse of OneCoin was reportedly tipped off that she was under investigation prior to her disappearance.

The report surfaced during the 19 October 2022 episode of ‘The Missing Cryptoqueen’ podcast, which claimed that former Ignatova associate Frank Schneider handed the incriminating police documents, which supposedly detail a March 2017 meeting between Europol and US officials in which dealings at OneCoin were discussed, to the show’s producers.

Schneider, who now faces extradition to the US for his role in the scam which lost investors billions, in turn alleges that Ignatova gave him a USB memory stick with the documents on it, and that the files’ metadata suggests she was alerted by her accomplices in Bulgaria.

If any of the the allegations are true and Ignatova did indeed acquire access to the supposedly leaked documents, they could well have alerted her to the likelihood of her impending arrest.

Ignatova was placed on the FBI’s top ten most wanted fugitives list in June 2022 in connection with the $4bn cryptocurrency-based Ponzi scheme which she ran with now-jailed co-founder Sebastian Greenwood.

Read more on this story at BBC.

New chair for French financial markets regulatory agency holds firm view on crypto

Marie-Anne Barbat-Layani has been voted in to take over from Robert Ophèle as the chair of the Financial Markets Authority (AMF), the body responsible for registering both traditional financial institutions and crypto companies in France.

The French government, which is eager to see the country become a crypto hub, set up one of the first crypto licensing administrations in the EU, and last week announced it will review its crypto tax rules next year as it seeks to become the world’s leading blockchain hub.

“I greatly admire the approach that was taken by the AMF in setting up the system and ensuring protections for young investors seeking to get into crypto", said Barbat-Layani, who was Director-General of the French Banking Federation from 2014 to 2019. “It was a form of bet, not necessarily welcomed unanimously at the time … I think that this risk taking was justified.”

She then went on to remind crypto firms that licences, once granted can also be taken away and said that seeing a registration withdrawn, has the effect of ‘reverse advertising’.

Read more at Markets Insider.

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