An article in Forbes on 23 January reported on an operation which was part of a series of investigations into an international financial institution located in Central America, whose products and services may have been used in a money laundering and tax evasion scheme for customers across the globe. The “coordinated day of action” involved evidence, intelligence, and information collection activities such as search warrants, interviews, and subpoenas – said to be the first use by the so-called J5 (the Joint Chiefs of Global Tax Enforcement, established in 2018, with membership which includes the heads of tax crime and senior officials in tax agencies) of such powers on a global scale. The name of the targeted financial institution was not revealed, but it is said that some tax professionals believe that the investigation is linked to the Panama Papers (though this suggestion is disputed).
On 23 January, following the release of reports on several countries since the last update, FATF published an updated consolidated schedule of assessment ratings.
On 23 January, FATF published the follow-up report on Kyrgyzstan undertaken by the FATF-style regional body, EAG. A number of ratings for FATF Recommendations have been uprated since the mutual evaluation report was published in 2018 –
- The ratings for R.12, R.17 and R.28 are upgraded from Non-Compliant to Largely Compliant;
- The ratings for R.1, R.2, R.16, R.22, R.23, R.24, R.34 and R.38 are upgraded from Partly Compliant to Largely Compliant;
- The rating for R.7 is upgraded from Partly C to Compliant; and
- The rating for R.6 is upgraded from Largely Compliant to Compliant.
As usual with such follow-up reports, only technical compliance is examined – not effectiveness. Kyrgyzstan will remain in the enhanced follow-up process and will continue to report to the EAG on progress to strengthen its national AML/CFT system.
On 23 January, OFAC announced an Iranian and Chinese individual, and 3 Hong Kong, 1 UAE and 2 Chinese companies had been added to the Iran sanctions lists. They are said to be part of a network supporting Iran’s Petroleum and petrochemical industries. The OFAC action in part targets Triliance Petrochemical Co Ltd, a Hong Kong-based broker with branches in Iran, UAE, China, and Germany, and notes that its Iranian branch, Triliance Kish Petrochemical Company, recently changed its name and operates as Tiba Parsian Kish Petrochemical.
On 23 January, the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) was published by Transparency International, finding that 4 G7 nations — Canada, France, UK and US — are viewed as more susceptible to public-sector malfeasance than they were in the previous year. In addition, Australia, Canada and Nicaragua are among 21 nations that “significantly declined” in their CPI rankings from the previous year, but improvements for Estonia, Greece and Guyana. New Zealand has top spot.