On 7 October, Global Witness posted a report following an undercover investigation in PNG, saying that forests continue to be burned and destroyed at an alarming rate, and that the primary driver of deforestation is agribusiness, with palm oil a chief culprit. The investigation implicates 3 of PNG’s newest palm oil producers in what appears to be serious criminality and other harms. For the first time, the NGO shows how this tainted product is being sourced by world-famous brands and their business financed by iconic banks and investors. It features bribed officials, including a Papua New Guinean government minister; Malaysian-backed companies which clear-felled tens of thousands of hectares of Papua New Guinean rainforest; tainted palm oil finding its ways into brands including Kellogg’s, Nestlé, Colgate, Danone, Hershey, and PZ Cussons and Reckitt Benckiser, the parent companies of Imperial Leather and Strepsils; and financiers such as BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, are indirectly profiting from these human rights and environmental abuses through investing in banks notorious for financing harmful palm oil firms.
On 8 October, Info Security reported that an international psychic mail fraud scheme that sold the promise of good fortune to tens of thousands of victims has been shut down by a US court. A Florida court handed down an injunction against 3 residents of France and 2 corporate defendants who had been carrying out the highly lucrative scheme. Arcana Center, a company in Delaware, and a Swiss corporation named Partners VAD International Sàrl, mailed hundreds of thousands of solicitations to victims in the US, and purportedly sent on behalf of companies or individuals offering psychic, clairvoyant, or astrological services.
On 8 October, OFAC announced that 6 companies in the Mammut Industrial Group have been deleted from the Iraq sanctions list. On 2 July, OFAC had de-listed 3 people associated with the companies who had also been designated in September 2020.
On 8 October, HMRC issued updated guidance on how to recognise and reduce risk of money laundering if you are a trust or company service provider (TCSP). It contains an updated assessment of sector risks
On 7 October, the FCA issued a news release advising that a report was available and this provides analysis of the REP-CRIM submissions for the 3 reporting periods between 2017-2020. For these periods it says that it received a total of 5,685 REP-CRIM submissions from over 2,300 different firms. It says that this analysis aims to provide MLRO and industry practitioners insights on trends and developments, which should help inform the arrangements and risks of their respective firms. Key findings include a reduction in the number of PEP, from 111,000 to 89,000; retail banking firms have reported approximately 390,000 high risk customers in 2019/2020 which is almost half the total of high-risk customers reported by all firms; the number of firms reporting automated sanctions screening is increasing year on year; and, in 2019/20, firms collectively employed approximately 17,000 full-time equivalent staff in financial crime roles, this compares to approximately 15,700 in 2017/2018.
On 6 October, Supply and Demand Chain Executive carried an article saying that those doing business in the US must continually screen their trade chain partners and every financial transaction to weed out “denied parties”. And, they must make sure that goods, technologies and services are not destined for a sanctioned or embargoed country. Screening, therefore, should be an integral component of every organisation’s governance, risk and compliance strategy. Even companies that don’t export should be checking because these so-called “bad actors” can be operating domestically. It says that a common misconception, though, is that only a select group of sensitive or high-risk industries need to screen. The article then lists 10 common myths about the role of screening – involving such aspects as thinking that one’s export destinations are not sanctioned or embargoed, and that one only needs to screen your own customer.