Last week shone the spotlight on several different categories of financial crime, as the UK’s Prince William advised a wildlife summit to fight trafficking by hunting down its illicit financial flows; the European Union agreed to new cryptocurrency trade laws which will target money laundering; and the UK suspended the supply of legal services by its law firms to Russia.
Find out more on these stories below.
Prince William advises United for Wildlife summit to ‘follow the money’ from trafficking
As his first major speech as the Prince of Wales, HRH Prince William spoke to delegates at the London summit for United for Wildlife, an organisation which he founded in 2014, warning that multi-national organised crime groups (OCGs) represent a dire threat to already endangered species.
The prince, a passionate environmentalist, told the 300 delegates, whose ranks included law enforcement agents and conservation officials, that a global response against wildlife trafficking gangs should be equal in measure to co-coordinated efforts against any other transnational OCGs.
He added that combating the annual £17.5bn profits of trafficking the body parts of elephants, rhinos, and other wildlife, meant that role-players needed to hunt down the illicit financial trails as well as engaging in conservation operations on the ground, due to wildlife crime’s close links with financial crimes such as corruption and money laundering.
Prince William’s address also paid tribute to the late Anton Mzimba, a South African anti-poaching ranger at Timbavati game reserve, who was murdered by suspected poachers in July 2022. The prince further cautioned that “there are still too many criminals who believe they can act with impunity, too many lives being destroyed and too many species on the brink of extinction due to this heinous crime.”
Read more on this story at BBC.
EU’s new cryptocurrency legislation designed to combat money laundering and terrorist financing
The European Union (EU) agreed to the new legislation, which aims to combat money laundering and terrorism financing via cryptocurrency trading, on 5 October 2022.
One of the new laws will regulate cryptocurrency trading conditions, the other will obligate role-players to verify cryptoasset traders’ true identities.
The Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation (MiCA) identified risks to the region’s market integrity due to differing legislative positions on regulating the relatively new and rapidly evolving technology of digital currencies among member states, as well as the lack of regulation of certain categories of crypto assets.
The EU believes a holistic, Union-wide legislative framework will help remedy the pitfalls of the status quo, stating that “proper regulation maintains the competitiveness of the Member States on international financial and technological markets.”
The second piece of legislation aims to combat money launderers, terrorism financiers, and organised crime groups that abuse the relative anonymity of crypto assets trading to transfer illicitly generated funds, evading the disjointed efforts of member states to establish traders’ true identities.
It noted that the new framework should impose “the obligation on payment service providers and crypto-asset service providers to accompany transfers of funds with information on the payer and the payee and transfers of crypto-assets with information on the originator and the beneficiary.”
EU lawmakers are expected to publish the legislation in 2023 and implement the laws in 2024.
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UK bans its law firms from dealing with Russian kleptocrats
The UK government announced the addition to its sanctions list on September 30 2022 in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexations of parts of sovereign Ukrainian territory during the ongoing invasion. The sanctions will include blocking Russian businessmen from acquiring the ‘transactional legal advisory services’ of UK law firms.
According to the UK government’s statement, Russia imports 85% of its legal services from G7 countries, of which 59% are supplied by law firms in the UK. The move, which had previously been exempted from the UK’s list of prohibitions, forms part of a broader campaign both in the UK and internationally to target Russian economic activity and growth in the wake of the invasion.
The move will also block Russia’s import of tax consultancy, bookkeeping, auditing, and accountancy services, of which as much as 80% are provided by the UK, the EU, and the US.
UK foreign secretary James Cleverly was insistent that Putin’s regime be held to account for the annexations and violation of international law, adding that “the UK utterly condemns Putin’s announcement of the illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. We will never recognise the results of these sham referendums or any annexation of Ukrainian territory.”
Read more on this story at Legal Futures.
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