On 10 February, TJI reported a CNN story that Italian scientists have discovered a new cannabis compound that is potentially 30 times more potent than THC. It is said that they discovered the new cannabinoid THCP, as well as a previously unknown compound that appears to be a close relative of CBD.
A news release from the NCA on 12 February advised about a day of action by National Economic Crime Centre partners. Officers from HMRC and City of London Police will visit every MSB in London, and some 90 businesses will receive educational visits by the joint teams who will highlight the risks within the sector.
On 12 February, Reuters reported that EU diplomats have reportedly reached a preliminary agreement to give Turkey more time to meet tax transparency requirements. The blacklist of jurisdictions was set up in 2017 targeting jurisdictions that could facilitate tax evasion because of lax or opaque tax regimes. To avoid blacklisting, Turkey was required to adopt laws by the end of 2019 to automatically exchange tax information with EU states, but has failed to do so by the set deadline.
On 12 February, OFAC announced the delisting of a larger number of entities, including the AL-BARAKAAT BANK, and of Abdullahi Hussein KAHIE, a Somali with a Norwegian passport.
On 12 February, ajot.com reported that the EU has decided to impose trade sanctions against Cambodia as a result of alleged human rights violations, making good on a year-long threat against imports from the country. The European Commission, cleared the way for a partial suspension of a policy that lets Cambodia export all goods except weapons duty-free and quota-free to the EU. The decision would automatically introduce EU tariffs on sugar, travel goods, some footwear and selected garments from Cambodia from 12 August unless Member States or EU Parliament object during the 6-month run-up. The tariffs would affect around a fifth, or €1 billion, of Cambodia’s annual exports to the EU, according to the Commission.
On 12 February, MONEYVAL released the mutual evaluation report on Cyprus, saying that its authorities should pursue money laundering from criminal proceeds generated outside of the country more aggressively. Whilst listing 5 important positive developments, the report also noted 9 major shortcomings which hinder the effectiveness of the AML/CFT regime –
- competent authorities are not yet sufficiently pursuing money laundering from criminal proceeds generated outside of Cyprus, which pose the highest threat; and
- they have not been very proactive at freezing and confiscating foreign criminal proceeds at their own initiative, although they have been instrumental in assisting other countries;
- it has not conducted a formal assessment of risks posed by legal persons, despite having a developed company formation and administration sector;
- there are weaknesses in the implementation of preventive measures by the TCSP sector as a whole, with major implications for the availability of beneficial ownership information of legal persons/arrangements and the reporting of suspicions transaction reports;
- further progress is required to implement a comprehensive supervisory framework for TCSP;
- the risk in the real estate sector has increased exponentially since it has become the preferred choice of investment vehicle to acquire citizenship under the Cyprus Investment Programme, and the supervisory framework of, the sector display significant weaknesses;
- the risks related to the Cyprus Investment Programme have not been assessed comprehensively;
- administrative service providers did not demonstrate a uniform level of understanding of the risks of terrorism sanctions evasion; and
- the application of a risk-based approach to the non-profit sector was still at a early stage at the time of the on-site visit.
On 12 February, MONEYVAL published the AML/CFT mutual evaluation report on Gibraltar, saying that it needs to invest more efforts in identifying, investigating and prosecuting money laundering and in confiscation of proceeds of crime. MONEYVAL has decided to apply its enhanced follow-up procedure and invited Gibraltar to report back at its first plenary in 2021. The on-site took place in April 2019.
In the latest TRACE podcast, investigative reporter Scilla Alecci of the ICIJ describes the excellent work that team did, using more than 715,000 leaked documents, to untangle the vast and often opaque business empire of Isabel dos Santos, Africa’s richest woman and daughter of the former president of Angola.
On 11 February, Reuters reported that PayPal Holdings Inc is teaming up with criminologists and experts at several universities to probe the payment systems used in the trafficking of illegal firearms in the US, to help financial companies and law enforcement understand what types of payment methods are used to finance illegal transactions and prevent them from taking place.
On 11 February, AP reported that Leonel Luciano Sauceda and his wife, Patricia Sbeltlana Estrada, had been arrested on money laundering charges. Sauceda began his career with the national police in 1992 and was appointed head of police just 2 weeks before his arrest.