On 12th March, Herbert Smith Freehills published the latest edition of this newsletter which said that late 2018 and early 2019 saw a flurry of regulatory developments and proposals relating to AML. The briefing discusses many of these developments and proposals, including –
- the FCA’s thematic review on money laundering risks in the e-money sector;
- amendments to compliance requirements in respect of anonymous safety deposit boxes;
- the FATF’s Mutual Evaluation Review of the UK;
- reform of the UK Suspicious Activity Reporting regime; and
- a recent RUSI paper on the scale of money laundering in the UK.
On 7th March, a news release from ACFCS provided a useful summary of the “Troika Laundromat” affair with links to powerful politicians and oligarchs and fuelled by Russia’s largest private investment bank, along with some of the largest US and EU financial institutions.
Insight Crime on 13th March reported that OFAC sanctions had been slapped on Alba Petróleos in El Salvador and Albanisa in Nicaragua, both PDVSA’s subsidiaries are under the control of the governing parties in each country. PDV Caribe, one of PDVSA’s subsidiaries, owns 60% of Alba Petróleos, which was founded in 2006 and said to be closely linked to Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front. In Nicaragua, PDVSA owns 51% of Alba de Nicaragua (Albanisa); the other 49% is owned by municipalities under the control of Daniel Ortega’s regime.
First Post reported on 14th March that Ugandan authorities said that they are investigating the country’s biggest gold refinery over recent imports of an estimated 7.4 tonnes of gold, worth some $300 million. Local media has reported the gold could have originated from Venezuela, but the refinery says it came from South Africa. Police raided the premises of the refiner involved after securing a court order and found a 3.6 tonne batch but an earlier shipment had disappeared.
Gizmodo on 13th March reported that Global Communications (Glocom) – which has in the past presented itself as a Malaysian company – has continued its efforts to advertise sanctions-violating military hardware on Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and YouTube. A UN report has said it appeared to be run by the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which is “tasked with overseas operations and weapons procurement”.