SRI LANKA ARRESTS EX-AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA OVER MiG FIGHTER DEAL

On 14 February, RTL reported that Sri Lanka had arrested a former ambassador to Russia, Udayanga Weeratunga, after he was extradited from Dubai to face money laundering charges over a controversial MiG aircraft purchase.  He was arrested in connection with an investigation into the 2006 purchase of 4 second-hand MiG 27 from Ukraine.

https://today.rtl.lu/news/world/a/1470520.html

BAHAMAS: SUPREME COURT REJECTS CANADIAN BID TO ENFORCE $20 MILLION SANCTION AS UNENFORCEABLE “GOVERNMENT PENALTY”

On 14 February, Eye Witness News reported that a Supreme Court judge has rejected a bid by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) to enforce a $20 million sanction against a Bahamian resident – Wayne Pushka, ruling that it was a government penalty and not enforceable in the Bahamas.  The penalty dated from 2014, and the case involved a claim that nearly C$5 million were transferred to The Bahamas and the balance of C$13.5 million at issue to a trust company in Liechtenstein.  However, the judge noted that there was no allegation or suggestion that Pushka engaged in fraud of any kind and that thought it was possible for receivers to recover money for harmed investors, it was not, however, possible for foreign governments to enforce fines and penalties.

https://ewnews.com/judge-rejects-ontario-securities-commission-bid-to-enforce-20-million-sanction

PANAMA RETURNS TO EU TAX HAVEN BLACK LIST

On 14 February, Newsroom Panama reported that the EU has added Panama and the Cayman Islands to their blacklist of tax havens which was originally created following the Panama Papers scandal in 2017.  Panama had been removed from the EU blacklist in 2018 after committing to reforms but returns because it did not meet certain criteria.

https://www.newsroompanama.com/business/panama-returns-to-eu-tax-haven-black-list

FATF PUBLISHES AML/CFT MUTUAL EVALUATION REPORTS ON GIBRALTAR AND CYPRUS, AND UPDATED CONSOLIDATED SCHEDULE OF AML/CFT RATINGS

On 13 February, FATF published reports on Cyprus and Gibraltar, already published by the FATF-style regional body, MONEYVAL.  On the same date it also published an updated schedule of consolidated AML/CFT ratings, incorporating updated results, including Switzerland.

http://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/mutualevaluations/documents/mer-gibraltar-2019.html

http://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/mutualevaluations/documents/mer-cyprus-2019.html

http://www.fatf-gafi.org/publications/mutualevaluations/documents/assessment-ratings.html

SWITZERLAND: AML/CFT MUTUAL EVALUATION FOLLOW-UP REPORT

On 13 February, FATF published the 3rd enhanced follow-up report on Switzerland, which follows up on developments since the original mutual evaluation report in 2016.  As with other such reports, it addresses changes and re-rating of technical compliance to FATF Recommendations, and not effectiveness.  The report also addresses new FATF Recommendations since the 2016 report.  As a result of progress, Switzerland has been re-rated on the following FATF Recommendations: 8, 16, 19 and 33. The FATF welcomes the progress achieved by Switzerland in order to improve its technical compliance with Recommendations 2, 5, 10, 15, 18 and 21 – but the progress is judged insufficient to justify an upgrade of the rating of these Recommendations.  Finally, Switzerland remains largely compliant with revised Recommendation 15 and compliant with the revised Recommendation 7.  However, Switzerland remains in enhanced follow-up.

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http://www.fatf-gafi.org/media/fatf/documents/reports/fur/Follow-Up-Report-Switzerland-2020.pdf

EU ADDS SEKA BALUKU TO DRC SANCTIONS LIST

EU Regulation 2020/189/EU (and Council Decision 2020/) added Seka BALUKU to the EU Democratic Republic of Congo sanctions following a similar move by the UN.

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2020.040.01.0001.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2020:040I:TOC

https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/AUTO/?uri=uriserv:OJ.LI.2020.040.01.0003.01.ENG&toc=OJ:L:2020:040I:TOC

BAHRAIN BRINGS CHARGES IN MONEY LAUNDERING CASE LINKED TO IRANIAN STATE-OWNED BANKS

On 13 February, Arab News reported that Bahrain had launched legal proceedings against a number of individuals and businesses involved in a vast money laundering scheme linked to state-owned Iranian banks, Bank Saderat and Bank Melli.  Allegedly involved was Future Bank, which closed in 2016.

https://www.arabnews.com/node/1627236/middle-east

US LIFTS SANCTIONS ON SOMALI GROUP OF COMPANIES

On 13 February, The East African reported that the US has lifted sanctions on Somali group of companies, Al-Barakat, which dealt in informal money transfer services.  The group, involved in hawala as well as logistics, telecom and internet services, had been designated by OFAC in 2001.   The UN lifted its sanctions on the group nearly 9 years ago.  It is speculated that lobbying by humanitarian groups led to the US move.

https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/US-lifts-sanctions-on-Somali-company-/4552908-5454602-6rti1t/index.html