On 8 June, an article in the Guardian is concerned with some of London’s aggressive “reputation management” law firms. It says that media laws in England and Wales on defamation, privacy, confidentiality, copyright and data protection are notorious among the world’s investigative journalists. So too, it says, is the industry of lawyers who use the English legal system to protect the reputations of their rich and powerful clients. The UK government is pledging to level the playing field, in a move partly driven by Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The co-founder of OCCRP describes a near-constant stream of threats from British reputation lawyers to his organisation.
On 8 June, KPMG reported that OFAC had released for publication in the Federal Register a final rule that amends the Cuban assets control regulations to “increase support for the Cuban people”. The changes affect education and education-related travel, travel to meetings or conferences and remittances.
A joint blog post from Companies House and the Land Registry reported on progress with the register provided for by the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act 2022. They say that they have mapped out key stakeholders and partners and are engaging with them regularly to make sure they’re actively involved with the progress of the work. Companies House will soon be writing to all overseas entities captured by the Act who own land in England, Wales and Scotland to make sure they know about their new responsibilities.
On 8 June, EU Sanctions blog advised that OFAC had issued 4 new General Licenses: Authorising Transactions Related to Telecommunications and Certain Internet-Based Communications; Authorising the Wind Down of Transactions Involving Public Joint Stock Company Severstal; Authorising the Wind Down of Transactions Involving Nord Gold PLC; and Authorising Transactions Related to Pension Payments to US Persons.
On 8 June, the EU Sanctions blog reported that the EU had updated FAQ relating to various matters, including insurance and reinsurance, customs-related matters, due diligence and circumvention of sanctions.
On 7 June, the BBC reported that an investigation by the Spotlight programme has looked at the use of Northern Ireland Limited Partnerships (NILP) for money laundering. Hundreds have been created since Scotland made regulatory changes disclosing the ownership of similar entities there 5 years ago.
On 8 June, a news release from Europol advised that a total of 61 individuals were arrested for their involvement in this criminal operation, including 5 officers from the Civil Guard, 1 from the National Police and 1 from customs. The corrupt law enforcement and customs officers were paid by the criminal organisation to make sure that the drugs were not intercepted as they were smuggled in the Spanish port of Algeciras.
On 8 June, FATF published a public summary of a confidential report issued in May that explores how law enforcement agencies can use technology, including advance analytics, to successfully investigate money laundering and terrorist financing, mitigate the risks of these crimes, and share information within the public sector and with the private sector in a secure manner. This complements the Phase 1 report on Digital Transformation of AML/CFT for operational agencies that focuses on detection of suspicious activities and analysis of financial intelligence and was completed in October 2021.
On 8 June, MONEYVAL released this third follow-up report, saying that Albania has improved measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, demonstrating good progress in the level of compliance with the FATF standards. The positive steps taken by the authorities resulted in the upgrading of the country’s ratings from “partially compliant” to “largely compliant” in 2 areas related to transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons, and regulation and supervision of financial institutions; as well as in further upgrading from “partially compliant” to “compliant” in the area of mutual legal assistance (MLA) regarding freezing of assets and confiscation. Albania has achieved full compliance with 7 of the 40 FATF Recommendations constituting the international AML/CFT standard, but there are still minor deficiencies in the implementation of 29 Recommendations where Albania has been found “largely compliant”. The country remains “partially compliant” with 4 Recommendations relating to targeted financial sanctions on proliferation financing; new technologies; the transparency and beneficial ownership of legal arrangements; and the supervision of designated non-financial businesses and professions (DNFBP). Albania has no “non-compliant” ratings. It will remain under MONEYVAL’s enhanced follow-up and is expected to report back on progress to strengthen its implementation of AML/CFT measures in 2 years’ time.