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UK announces first set of anti-corruption sanctions
Napier
April 30, 2021

UK announces first set of anti-corruption sanctions under the new Global Anti-Corruption regime, Canadian civil society lauds creation of public corporate beneficial ownership registry while crypto continues to hold the headlines with news of a wholly Bitcoin-enabled community and Ireland enforces 5AMLD related crypto laws.

Find out more on these stories below.

UK announces first set of sanctions under the new Global Anti-Corruption regime

The UK government used new powers for the first time earlier this week aimed at fighting corruption abroad, sanctioning 22 people from Russia, Africa and South America.

On Monday, Dominic Raab, the UK’s First Secretary of State and Foreign Secretary announced the sanctions under the Global Anti-Corruption sanctions regime, which imposed asset freezes and travel bans against 22 individuals involved in notorious corruption cases globally.

These sanctions are deliberately targeted to prevent the UK from sanctioning entire nations, but rather corrupt individuals and their enablers. The UK hopes to use these sanctions and the new regime to promote effective governance, robust democratic institutions and the rule of law, essentially demonstrating their power as a force for good around the world.

"They are being taken partly in tandem with the US, which is today also announcing further corruption sanctions. Acting together sends the clearest possible signal that corruption comes with a heavy price," the government said in a statement.

Find out on these sanctions on Gov.uk

Small Caribbean island of Bequia is set to lead the world in Bitcoin-enablement

The exclusive paradise island of Bequia, the second largest in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, is 18 km2 in size and has a population of just over 5000 but will soon become a world leader by establishing the first-ever wholly Bitcoin-enabled community.

The One Bequia project consists of 39 luxury villas which can be paid for in Bitcoin. The cryptocurrency will also be accepted for everyday uses such as groceries and entertainment.

One Bequia leader Storm Gonsalves explains that he “sought to create a forward-looking community development where digital nomads and holidaymakers can feel at home with all the modern comforts that you can expect in a metropolis such as London or New York, whilst also experiencing our warm Caribbean culture.”

Mr Gonsalves added that uptake of cryptocurrency as payment is more than just a gimmick.

The trend towards de-risking – eliminating rather than managing clients which carry potential risk factors - among larger financial service providers in the Caribbean has been debilitating for smaller island-based banks and related businesses. The increased isolation of some islands from the international banking sector has contributed to the region’s enthusiasm for blockchain and other cryptocurrencies.

Mr Gonsalves added that “One Bequia is not about ‘stuffy’ luxury.” It is hoped that in the future all residents of the Eastern Caribbean will be able to make secure crypto payments, with or without bank accounts.

Read more on this story at Euronews.

NGOs in Canada praise federal plan to combat “snow washing”

The Canadian Department of Finance last week released its 2021 federal budget, which included the announcement that CAD2.1 million (US$1.68 million) has been allocated to the development of a corporate beneficial ownership registry.

The registry - which will be accessible to the public - will oblige financial institutions to identify all owning or controlling role players. This will deter the practice of “snow washing”- the use of shell companies to disguise tax evasion and financial crimes as legitimate transactions by exploiting Canada’s relatively lax corporate transparency laws.

The Coalition to end Snow Washing, an alliance of three Canadian non-governmental organisations, has welcomed the news.

Sasha Caldera of coalition partner Publish what you Pay said “There is growing international evidence that public registries are powerful tools to fight dirty money and this announcement is monumental for Canada.

The federal government’s announcement follows years of advocacy by the civil society group, which estimates that CAD46 billion to over CAD100 billion ($36.78 billion to $79.97 billion) is “washed” annually through Canada’s economy. The federal budget stated that the development of the registry will assist authorities in their efforts to “catch those who attempt to launder money, evade taxes, or commit other complex financial crimes.”

Read more on this story at OCCRP.

Irish cryptocurrency service providers may no longer provide anonymity to customers

The new law governing how virtual asset service providers (VASPs) conduct crypto-trade in the country came into effect last week. The change means that VASPs will now have to register with the Central Bank of Ireland for anti-money laundering (AML) and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) purposes. The registry will be published on the Central Bank’s website.

The new regulations come into force as the European Union's Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive has now been transposed into Irish law, two years after the amendment was issued to member states.

The regulatory change in Ireland will include all entities which deal in crypto assets and provide financial services for cryptocurrency issuers. The move will include the obligation to undertake customer due diligence checks (CDDs) and will see additional transaction costs for VASPs in the country.

The move is another step towards incorporating cryptocurrency trade into the broader financial regulatory framework, bringing the regulatory requirements expected of VASPs more in line with what is expected of other financial services providers.  

Read more on this story at Independent.ie

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