On 29 April, FinCEN advised the renewal and expansion of its Geographic Targeting Orders (GTO) that require US title insurance companies to identify the natural persons behind shell companies used in all-cash purchases of residential real estate. FinCEN renewed the GTO that cover certain counties within the following major US metropolitan areas: Boston; Chicago; Dallas-Fort Worth; Honolulu; Las Vegas; Los Angeles; Miami; New York City; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; and Seattle. FinCEN has also expanded the geographic coverage of the GTO to parts of the District of Columbia, Northern Virginia, and Maryland (DMV) metropolitan area, the Hawaiian islands of Maui, Hawaii, and Kauai, and Fairfield County, Connecticut. The purchase amount threshold remains $300,000 for each covered metropolitan area, with the exception of the City and County of Baltimore, where the purchase threshold is $50,000.
On 29 April, FinCEN advised that the US Treasury was replacing the Ukraine Related Sanctions Regulations, with them being replaced by being renamed as the Ukraine-/Russia-Related Sanctions Regulations. The new regulations are intended to provide a more comprehensive set of regulations that includes additional interpretive and definitional guidance, general licences, and other regulatory provisions that will provide further guidance to the public. OFAC has also revised several FAQ accordingly.
On 29 April, the EU Sanctions blog reported that, in addition to OFAC financial sanctions, the US State Department has applied sanctions and visa restrictions on numerous people in response to human rights abuses committed in Russia and Belarus.
Another helpful chart provided by ACAMS and which includes the key export restrictions imposed by certain G7 countries, namely the US, the EU, Japan, Australia, and the UK on luxury goods destined for Russia.
On 28 April, INTERPOL published a report, saying that it has established a dedicated team to support member countries combating illegal gold mining in Latin America and beyond. Analysis for law enforcement shows the clear involvement of organized criminals in illegal gold mining, taking advantage of surging gold prices and leaving severe environmental degradation in their wake. Latin America is especially affected by this crime area, experiencing one of the world’s largest illegal gold extraction rates, according to INTERPOL’s findings. The high involvement of sophisticated criminal networks in illegal gold mining and the transnational dimension of illegal mining and associated crimes also pose challenges for law enforcement, who sometimes lack the necessary resources to combat this crime threat effectively.
On 28 April, the UK Parliament published responses from the Government, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Payment Systems Regulator (PSR) to the Committee’s February report on Economic Crime in the UK. The report urged the Government to legislate against online fraudulent adverts and seriously consider whether online giants should reimburse those who fall victim to scams on their platforms. It also called for the Government to urgently legislate to make reimbursement for victims of ‘authorised push payment fraud’ mandatory. Part of the response to the report was that the Government has dismissed the suggestion that anti-fraud enforcement should be the responsibility of a single body or department.
On 29 April, Europol reported that its Europol Innovation Lab has published its first report under its Observatory function, entitled ‘Facing Reality? Law enforcement and the challenge of deepfakes’. The report, which draws its conclusions based on extensive desk research and in-depth consultation with law enforcement experts, provides a detailed overview of the criminal use of deepfake technology, alongside the challenges faced by law enforcement in detecting and preventing the nefarious use of deepfakes. The report argues that law enforcement agencies will need to enhance the skills and technologies at officers’ disposal if they are to keep pace with criminal use of deepfakes. Examples of such new capacities range from the deployment of technical and organisational safeguards against video tampering to the creation of deepfake detection software that uses artificial intelligence.