On 1 February, a news release announced that the inquiry will explore the “significant challenges” to the global economy, which contribute to corruption and insecurity. These challenges include vast flows of dirty money across borders – which, as laid bare by the Panama and Pandora Papers, the UK and the Overseas Territories can play a role in facilitating. The inquiry will also consider fintech innovations, such as cryptocurrency and central bank digital currencies (CBDC), which raise fundamental questions about how the emerging global digital economy will work, challenging international norms and standards.
On 1 February, FATF-style regional body APG published the MER that was approved at the November Plenary. The mutual evaluation onsite visit to Vietnam took place in November 2019 and the MER provides a snapshot of Vietnam’s system as at that date. The mutual evaluation of Vietnam was paused in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, resuming in mid-2021.
On 31 January, ICIJ reported that 32 people are to be prosecuted for their alleged involvement in money laundering in Panama, and the trial of the unnamed 32 charged with “crimes against the public economic order” will be held on 15 November. Law firm Mossack Fonseca closed 2 years after the Panama Papers scandal broke and its founders have insisted that they weren’t involved in illegal activities. However, in a related case, the Supreme Court has exonerated a former Mossack Fonseca employee who faced money laundering charges linked to the Panama Papers investigation. She and other Mossack Fonseca associates were charged with covering up the illicit origin and ownership of money and assets, according to court records. One ruling of the Court was that matters involved in the creation of corporations or private interests trusts that are used for tax fraud cannot be considered a crime in Panama if the companies were incorporated before 2019, when the country changed its laws to include fiscal fraud as a predicate crime for money laundering.
On 1 February, MONEYVAL released the mutual evaluation report on Poland which calls on Polish authorities to improve the regulatory framework and to strengthen the practical application of measures meant to stop money laundering and financing of terrorism.
On 1 February, iGB reported that a report detailing links between Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) and crimes including prostitution and human trafficking has been presented to the country’s senate. It quotes that report saying that “The POGO industry has exacerbated local prostitution and human trafficking. It also encouraged inbound prostitution, with the creation of ‘Chinese-only’ prostitution that made the country a destination for foreign trafficked women on a scale not seen before”.
On 31 January, the Wall Street Journal reported that the UAE is to introduce a tax on corporate profits, as it juggles the need to remain attractive for international business with its agreement to support global tax transparency. A new 9% tax rate will apply from 1 June 2023, and will help it meet, “international standards for tax transparency”, the country’s finance ministry is reported as having said.