Article: INSIGHT: U.S. cryptocurrency regulatory path appears long and complex

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Todd Ehret, 06 April 2021

Bitcoin, other cryptocurrencies, and essentially all digital assets have surged in price recently amid surging interest by the public, investors of all types, and the financial industry. Despite a steadily growing acceptance and anticipation of a crypto-friendly regulatory environment under the new administration in Washington, the future regulatory framework for digital assets is complex and uncertain. Continue reading “Article: INSIGHT: U.S. cryptocurrency regulatory path appears long and complex”

Article: Five ways Biden could crack down on dirty money and financial secrecy

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Five ways Biden could crack down on dirty money and financial secrecy

Brenda Medina, 01 April 2021

Early rhetoric from the Biden administration has encouraged anti-corruption advocates that the new president’s tenure in the White House may mark a turning point in the fight against dirty money and tax haven abuse — two overlapping problems made worse by a veil of secrecy that shields vast sums of money from tax collectors and law enforcement authorities.

“We will crack down on tax havens and illicit financing that contribute to income inequality, fund terrorism, and generate pernicious foreign influence,” the administration’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, released last month, says, identifying the fight against global corruption as a top security priority. The strategy mirrors promises Joe Biden made during his candidacy.

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Article: SEC Puts Brokers On Notice For Money Laundering Concerns

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SEC Puts Brokers On Notice For Money Laundering Concerns

Al Barbarino, 31 March 2021

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission isn’t satisfied with the way broker-dealers are responding to and reporting suspicious activities, and a wave of enforcement actions could follow if these regulated entities don’t fall in line with the agency’s latest warning on the matter, industry attorneys say.

Redoubling its efforts to keep brokers in check when it comes to their anti-money laundering, or AML, obligations, the agency in a Monday risk alert sought to “remind” the regulated entities of their duties to report suspicious activities tied to penny stocks, unregistered securities and other high-risk transactions that have swelled up amid COVID-19.  Continue reading “Article: SEC Puts Brokers On Notice For Money Laundering Concerns”

Article: FinCEN’s $390 Million Case Against Capital One – And What It Means For AML Enforcement

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FinCEN’s $390 Million Case Against Capital One – And What It Means For AML Enforcement

Seetha Ramachandran and Hena Vora,  29 March 2021

As the financial services industry prepares for expanded criminal and civil enforcement under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) with the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, FinCEN’s recent case against Capital One shows how FinCEN’s approach to AML enforcement is evolving.

On January 15, 2021, FinCEN assessed a $390 million civil money penalties against Capital One for violations of the BSA related to Capital One’s Check Cashing Group (the “CCG”). CCG is a business unit under Capital One’s commercial bank through which Capital One provides banking services including processing checks and providing customers with armored car cash shipments. In issuing its decision, FinCEN determined that, between 2008 and 2014, Capital One’s CCG failed to report millions of dollars in suspicious transactions. Specifically, FinCEN found that Capital One: Continue reading “Article: FinCEN’s $390 Million Case Against Capital One – And What It Means For AML Enforcement”

Article: California Department of Justice Secures $5.3 Million Settlement from Artichoke Joe’s Casino In the San Francisco Bay Area

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California Department of Justice Secures $5.3 Million Settlement from Artichoke Joe’s Casino In the San Francisco Bay Area

Sierra Sun Times,  27 March 2021

SACRAMENTO – The California Department of Justice (DOJ) on Thurday announced a settlement in which Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno agreed to pay a penalty of $5.3 million for misleading gambling regulators and violating the Bank Secrecy Act, a federal law intended to combat money laundering. The casino is a 51-table cardroom with the eighth largest gross gambling revenue in the state. After the cardroom failed to timely or accurately report an investigation by the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), DOJ’s Bureau of Gambling Control (Bureau) initiated a license disciplinary proceeding against the casino and its owners. Today’s settlement includes the largest agreed-upon penalty in the history of California gambling regulation.

Under California’s Gambling Control Act of 1998, casinos are required to make timely, full, and true disclosure to gambling regulators. The Bureau determined that Artichoke Joe’s Casino was in violation of the law when it failed to accurately report, reveal, or disclose in a timely manner that FinCEN or any other federal agency was examining the casino with respect to the Bank Secrecy Act and that the casino and FinCEN were in negotiations that could result in the casino’s admission of Bank Secrecy Act violations. Later, as part of the settlement reached with FinCEN, the casino admitted to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act, and the Bureau amended its allegations to include the admission. Continue reading “Article: California Department of Justice Secures $5.3 Million Settlement from Artichoke Joe’s Casino In the San Francisco Bay Area”

Article: FinCEN’s $390 Million case against Capital One – And What it Means for AML Enforcement

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FinCEN’s $390 Million case against Capital One – And What it Means for AML Enforcement

Seetha Ramachandran, Hena Vora,  26 March 2021

As the financial services industry prepares for expanded criminal and civil enforcement under the Bank Secrecy Act (“BSA”) with the passage of the Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020, FinCEN’s recent case against Capital One shows how FinCEN’s approach to AML enforcement is evolving.

On January 15, 2021, FinCEN assessed a $390 million civil money penalties against Capital One for violations of the BSA related to Capital One’s Check Cashing Group (the “CCG”). CCG is a business unit under Capital One’s commercial bank through which Capital One provides banking services including processing checks and providing customers with armored car cash shipments. In issuing its decision, FinCEN determined that, between 2008 and 2014, Capital One’s CCG failed to report millions of dollars in suspicious transactions. Specifically, FinCEN found that Capital One: failed to maintain an AML program to guard against money laundering as per 31 U.S.C. § 5318(h); failed to file suspicious activity reports (SARs) on suspicious transactions in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5313; and failed to file currency transaction reports (CTRs) for the CCG in violation of 31 U.S.C. § 5313. Continue reading “Article: FinCEN’s $390 Million case against Capital One – And What it Means for AML Enforcement”

Article: FinCEN Signals Suspicion of Art Market Even Before AML Study Begins

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FinCEN Signals Suspicion of Art Market Even Before AML Study Begins

Nicholas O’Donnell, 24 March 2021

In connection with the late-2020 amendment to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) to include “dealers in antiquities” as a result of its inclusion in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) has issued a notice of “Efforts Related to Trade in Antiquities and Art.”

The notice is a combination of guidance to entities now covered by the BSA, but it is also a potential backdoor around the entities that Congress chose not to regulate with respect to potential or perceived money laundering risks: art dealers. It also raises concerns about the objectivity of the forthcoming study of the art market that Congress instructed FinCEN to conduct. In either event, it is further evidence that momentum continues to gather for stricter oversight and regulation of the U.S. art market, and the importance of the art trade demonstrating more transparency and diligence if it hopes to modify or mitigate that regulation. Continue reading “Article: FinCEN Signals Suspicion of Art Market Even Before AML Study Begins”

Article: FinCEN Must Staff Up to Fulfill Reform Mandate, Director Says

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FinCEN Must Staff Up to Fulfill Reform Mandate, Director Says

Dylan Tokar, The Wall Street Journal, 02 March 2021

The U.S. Treasury Department’s financial crimes unit is focused on acquiring the resources it needs to implement sweeping new anti-money-laundering reforms—in a way that doesn’t unnecessarily burden the financial industry, its director said.

Putting into practice the anti-money-laundering legislation, which was passed in January as part of an annual defense-policy bill, is a priority of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, FinCEN Director Kenneth Blanco said Tuesday at a virtual conference hosted by International Institute of Bankers.

“The priority is to make sure that we do everything that we can to implement the [law], everything that we can to get FinCEN in a position where it can accomplish that,” Mr. Blanco said.

That means making sure FinCEN is “fully staffed” and “fully resourced,” and conducts outreach needed to carefully write regulations surrounding the law, he said.

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Capital One Fined for Anti-Money-Laundering Deficiencies

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Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said the bank admitted it had failed to maintain effective controls in a check-cashing business.

The Treasury Department on Friday said it fined Capital One Financial Corp. for “willfully failing to implement and maintain” effective anti-money-laundering controls. As part of the settlement, Capital One admitted that it “willfully failed to file thousands of suspicious-activity reports,” according to the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. The allegations pertain to a check-cashing group that Capital One acquired when it bought North Fork Bank in 2006.

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Article: Germany says FinCEN money laundering revelations are not new

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Germany says FinCEN money laundering revelations are not new

Holger Hansen and Andreas Rinke, 21 September 2020

BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s finance ministry said on Monday that a slew of news reports about money laundering among global banks including Deutsche Bank DBKGn.DE did not appear to contain revelations which were unknown.

“To the best of our knowledge, the cases with a German connection have been dealt with and the necessary consequences have been drawn,” a spokeswoman said.

German regulator BaFin is a unit of Germany’s Finance Ministry.

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Article: JPMorgan allegedly helped Russian mafia launder funds – FinCEN leak

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JPMorgan allegedly helped Russian mafia launder funds – FinCEN leak

Stephen Rae, 20 September 2020

The FinCEN Files leak show JP Morgan in London was suspected of helping Russian mafia ‘capo di capi’ or boss of bosses to launder more than a $1BN.

Semion Mogilevich – who has appeared in the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted list – has been accused of crimes including murder, drugs smuggling and gun running.

Given his background he should not have been allowed to use the financial system, but a SARs filed by JP Morgan in 2015 after the account was closed, reveals how the bank’s London office may have moved some of the cash.

The FinCen Files is a data dump leak of internal US Treasury Department documents which apparently show how major banks allowed criminal suspects to launder dirty money around the globe. Notably, the leak shows London is often the weak link in the financial system and how London is awash with Russian cash.

The leak of documents from the Treasury Department show how JP Morgan, provided banking services to a secretive offshore company called ABSI Enterprises between 2002 and 2013, even though the firm’s ownership was not clear from the bank’s records, the BBC reported.

Over one five-year period, JP Morgan sent and received wire transfers totalling $1.02bn, the broadcaster revealed.

The bank’s SAR noted ABSI’s parent company “might be associated with Semion Mogilevich – an individual who was on the FBI’s top 10 most wanted list”.

In a statement to the BBC, JP Morgan said: “We follow all laws and regulations in support of the government’s work to combat financial crimes. We devote thousands of people and hundreds of millions of dollars to this important work.”

The files were obtained by BuzzFeed News which shared them with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – image above from www.ICIJ.org – and 400 journalists around the world. The Panorama investigation programme led research for the BBC.

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Article: Dirty Money, Criminal Cash: Bank Leaks Allege Vast Scale of Global Fraud

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Dirty Money, Criminal Cash: Bank Leaks Allege Vast Scale of Global Fraud

Henry Ridgwell, 20 September 2020

Leaked documents allege that some of the world’s largest banks have allowed $2 trillion worth of suspicious or fraudulent activity to take place, including money laundering for criminal gangs and terrorists.

The so-called “FinCEN Files” consist of more than 2,000 Suspicious Activity Reports, or SARs, sent by banks to the U.S. Treasury, alerting the authorities to possible criminal activity, from 1999 and 2017. The files were leaked to Buzzfeed and shared with a global network of investigative journalists. Continue reading “Article: Dirty Money, Criminal Cash: Bank Leaks Allege Vast Scale of Global Fraud”

Article: FinCEN Files: HSBC moved Ponzi scheme millions despite warning

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FinCEN Files: HSBC moved Ponzi scheme millions despite warning

FinCEN Files reporting team, 20 September 2020

Britain’s biggest bank moved the money through its US business to HSBC accounts in Hong Kong in 2013 and 2014. Its role in the $80m (£62m) fraud is detailed in a leak of documents – banks’ “suspicious activity reports” – that have been called the FinCEN Files.

HSBC says it has always met its legal duties on reporting such activity. The files show the investment scam started soon after the bank was fined $1.9bn (£1.4bn) in the US over money laundering. It had promised to clamp down on these sorts of practices. Continue reading “Article: FinCEN Files: HSBC moved Ponzi scheme millions despite warning”

Article: UBS Fined $15 Million Over Anti-Money-Laundering Systems

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UBS Fined $15 Million Over Anti-Money-Laundering Systems

Maria Armental and Samuel Rubenfeld, 17 December, 2018

UBS Group AG agreed to pay a combined $15 million fine over regulatory deficiencies in its anti-money-laundering program, U.S. regulators said Monday.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, said broker-dealer unit UBS Financial Services Inc. violated the Bank Secrecy Act, which requires financial firms to report suspicious activities, over a roughly 13-year period through 2017. Continue reading “Article: UBS Fined $15 Million Over Anti-Money-Laundering Systems”