Australian financial crime watchdog widens probe on casinos already reeling from COVID
Reuters, 07 June 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s anti-money-laundering agency on Monday widened a probe into due diligence at casinos to include the three biggest operators, ratcheting up pressure on a sector already struggling with the pandemic and heightened regulatory scrutiny.
Months into an investigation of top player Crown Resorts, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said it was formally looking into possible breaches of background check rules at rival Star Entertainment Group and New Zealand’s SkyCity Entertainment Group.
That means owners of casinos in Australia’s five most populous cities now face enforcement investigations that could carry fines or restrict their licences. Continue reading “Article: Australian financial crime watchdog widens probe on casinos already reeling from COVID”
Australia’s NAB reveals anti-money laundering probe, shares fall
Paulina Duran, 06 June 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) – National Australia Bank said on Monday it is under investigation for suspected serious and ongoing breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws, sparking concerns about potential fines and higher compliance costs.
The financial crime regulator said there were “areas of serious concern” that required further investigation, but it was not considering a civil penalty order at this stage.
Shares in Australia’s third-largest lender fell 2.6% in morning trading while the wider market was little changed.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) said the problems at NAB involved “potential serious and ongoing non-compliance” with customer identification procedures, customer due diligence and other compliance requirements.
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Banker first to be jailed in German tax fraud scandal
Reuters, 02 June 2021
A former executive at private bank M.M. Warburg on Tuesday became the first banker to be jailed over a multi-year scam to bilk the German state of billions of euros by filing bogus claims for tax rebates on stock dividends.
A court in Bonn handed down a sentence of five years and six months for tax evasion against the banker, a spokeswoman said. Two months were docked from the sentence of the banker, who was not named, due to the length of the trial. Continue reading “Article: Banker first to be jailed in German tax fraud scandal”
Credit Suisse scandals prompt Switzerland to think unthinkable: punish bankers
John O’Donnell and Brenna Neghaiwi, Reuters, 28 May 2021
Exasperation with Credit Suisse following a string of scandals is prompting Switzerland to rethink a system in which top bankers have been largely untouchable.
Credit Suisse’s heavy losses from the collapse of family office Archegos and the decimation of billions of client investments backed by insolvent British financier Greensill have angered regulators and triggered a rare discussion among lawmakers about fining bankers.
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China ups fines and widens scope of draft money laundering law
Stella Qiu, Lusha Zhang and Tony Munroe, 01 June 2021
BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s central bank on Tuesday issued a revised draft anti-money laundering law, under which fines for certain offences would rise to as much as 10 million yuan ($1.6 million) and a host of non-financial institutions would be brought within its scope.
The draft, which updates proposals first made in 2006, would include the likes of property developers, accounting firms and precious metal exchanges, according to a copy of the draft law posted by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on its website. Non-bank payment firms, online microlenders, financial asset management firms and financial leasing companies will also be included. Continue reading “Article: China ups fines and widens scope of draft money laundering law”
UPDATE 1-European stocks retreat from record highs, Deutsche Bank drags
Sruthi Shankar, 31 May 2021
European stocks slipped from record highs on Monday in subdued trading due to holidays in major markets, but optimism over a swift economic recovery put the benchmark index on course for its fourth month of gains.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index was down 0.1% in morning trade, with shares in Frankfurt falling 0.3% and Paris dipping 0.1%. UK and US markets are closed for a holiday, keeping trading volumes muted across the board.
Among the top drags was Deutsche Bank, down 1.8% after the Wall Street Journal reported that the U.S. Federal Reserve told the German lender it was failing to address persistent shortcomings in its anti-money-laundering controls. Continue reading “Article: UPDATE 1-European stocks retreat from record highs, Deutsche Bank drags”
UPDATE 2-China’s yuan pulls back after officials warn against speculation
Winni Zhou, Samuel Shen and Andrew Galbraith, 31 May 2021
SHANGHAI, May 31 (Reuters) – The yuan hit a three-year high against the dollar on Monday before falling back following a chorus of warnings from Chinese officials against speculative bets on the currency.
A former senior official at the foreign exchange regulator joined a slew of current and former officials on Monday cautioning against one way bets on the yuan, which has seen a two-month long rally against the dollar. In a commentary in the official China Securities Journal, Guan Tao warned against herd behaviour that could harm market order and weigh on China’s exporters. Continue reading “Article: UPDATE 2-China’s yuan pulls back after officials warn against speculation”
Chinese regulators vow to crack down on yuan exchange manipulation
Reuters, 28 May 2021
Chinese regulators including the central bank will crack down on manipulation of the forex market, according to a statement published on the central bank’s website on Thursday.
The regulators said the current foreign exchange market is largely balanced and the yuan could move in either direction in the future. They reiterated no change to the country’s currency policy, which is a managed floating exchange rate system based on market supply and demand, with reference to a basket of currencies.
The currency policy is “suitable for China’s national conditions and should be adhered to in the long run,” the statement said. Continue reading “Article: Chinese regulators vow to crack down on yuan exchange manipulation”
S.Africa’s ex-president Zuma pleads not guilty to corruption charges
Reuters, 26 May 2021
South Africa’s former leader Jacob Zuma pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to corruption, fraud, racketeering and money laundering charges relating to a $2 billion arms deal when he was deputy president.
Zuma, who was president between 2009-2018, faces 18 charges relating to the 1999 deal. He has rejected the charges and says he is the victim of a politically motivated witch hunt by a rival faction of the ruling African National Congress.
Zuma, who also faces a separate inquiry into corruption during his time as president, is accused of accepting 500,000 rand ($34,000) annually from French arms company Thales, in exchange for protecting the company from an investigation into the deal. Continue reading “Article: S.Africa’s ex-president Zuma pleads not guilty to corruption charges”
Liberty Steel breached £18m loan with Metro Bank – report
Angharad Carrick, 23 May 2021
Metro Bank is reportedly still waiting for the repayment of an £18m loan from embattled steel group Liberty.
It is the latest sign of trouble for Liberty’s owner GFG Alliance which is being investigated by the UK Serious Fraud Office for alleged money laundering and fraudulent trading. Its future has been in doubt since its main backer, supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital collapsed into administration in March.
But its troubles started some time earlier, with a loan secured on the steelworks as early as 2018, the BBC reported. Filings at the Isle of Man Companies Registry show that it’s one of a portfolio of industrial properties, including another factory in South Wales, which were pledged as security for an £18m loan from Metro Bank.
Liberty’s accounts for 2018-19 say that “due to breaches of… covenants and restrictions, Metro bank have called in the [loan] facility and have stipulated that full repayment must be made” by 31 March 2020.”
A GFG Alliance spokesman declined to say what caused the terms to be breached and added: “no loan terms have been breached due to non-payment” and “discussions are ongoing and are being resolved.”
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Russian central bank to expand market manipulation criteria
Elena Fabrichnaya, 13 May 2021
MOSCOW, May 13 (Reuters) – Russia’s central bank said on Thursday it plans to expand a list of actions deemed to be market manipulation, facing a need to protect growing numbers of retail investors after a series of cases involving what it called malicious transactions.
Retail investors flooded to the market in 2020 as central bank rate cuts reduced the appeal of bank deposits and the COVID-19 pandemic left people working from home and with time to spare. Continue reading “Article: Russian central bank to expand market manipulation criteria”
Malaysia’s 1MDB, ex-unit seek recovery of $23 bln in assets
Reuters, 10 May 2021
Malaysian state fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and a former unit have filed 22 civil suits seeking to recover more than $23 billion in assets from entities and people allegedly involved in defrauding them, the finance ministry said on Monday.
The ministry, in a statement on the suits, did not identify any of the individuals or entities being sued but said two foreign financial institutions were among them. The Edge business daily, citing court documents that it said it had seen, reported that JP Morgan (JPM.N) and Deutsche Bank (DBKGn.DE) were among those being sued.
Malaysian officials did not immediately confirm the names. Continue reading “Article: Malaysia’s 1MDB, ex-unit seek recovery of $23 bln in assets”
After WallStreetBets, Australia’s securities regulator warns share trading forums
Byron Kaye, 27 April 2021
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s securities regulator has contacted internet share trading forums to question them about policing of “pump and dump” scams on their platforms, a sign of growing scrutiny of an investment subculture that soared during pandemic lockdowns.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) told Reuters it has boosted surveillance of local retail trading internet chatrooms that have sprung up since the “WallStreetBets” Reddit chatroom was linked to wild U.S. stock fluctuations this year.
That has led to discussions between the regulator several operators of the profanity, irony and meme-laden chat forums – who often operate anonymously – about their liability if they allow share inflation schemes to flourish. Continue reading “Article: After WallStreetBets, Australia’s securities regulator warns share trading forums”
The ex-convict’s tale: Germany’s role in Wirecard scandal under microscope
John O’donnell, Tom Sims, 23 April 2021
In February 2019, after a steep drop in Wirecard’s share price, German authorities launched criminal probes into short-sellers and journalists who had accused the company of fraud, and banned investors from betting against the company.
Documents seen by Reuters show for the first time that the only independent information – beyond Wirecard’s representations – received by Munich prosecutors who launched the criminal probes was a third-hand account of events from a convicted money launderer, Daniel James Harris.
The rationale that led to the decisions of prosecutors and regulators to launch the criminal probes and short-selling ban, and whether they were overzealous in supporting Wirecard, are central issues being investigated by a parliamentary inquiry into the company’s collapse in Germany’s biggest post-war fraud scandal. Continue reading “Article: The ex-convict’s tale: Germany’s role in Wirecard scandal under microscope”
Bank of England sees potential risks from cloud data providers
Reuters, 21 April 2021
The Bank of England might strengthen its controls on cloud data providers and other technology firms to counter possible risks to the stability of the financial system from the rise of fintech, Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden said.
The Bank of England (BoE) has expressed concerns before about the reliance by financial firms, especially fintech startups, on third-party technology companies for key parts of their operations, and Ramsden said this scrutiny would intensify. Continue reading “Article: Bank of England sees potential risks from cloud data providers”