On 29 June, a news release from the EU advised that the EU Council has agreed its partial position on the proposal. The Council has added powers to the Authority to directly supervise certain types of credit and financial institutions, including crypto asset service providers, if they are considered risky. It also entrusts the Authority to supervise up to 40 groups and entities – at least in the first selection process – and to ensure a complete coverage of the internal market under its supervision. More powers are also given to the general board in the governance of AMLA. The Council’s position is partial as it has not yet agreed on the location at which the new Authority will be based. This proposal is part of a package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU AML/CFT rules, presented by the Commission on 20 July.
On 29 June, the EU announced that negotiators from the EU Council Presidency and the European Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on the proposal updating the rules on information accompanying the transfers of funds by extending the scope of those rules to transfers of crypto assets. It says that the introduction of this “travel rule” will ensure financial transparency on exchanges in crypto-assets and will provide the EU with a solid and proportional framework that complies with the most demanding international standards on the exchange of crypto-assets, in particular FATF Recommendations 15 and 16. This proposal is part of a package of legislative proposals to strengthen the EU AML/CFT rules, presented by the Commission on 20 July 2021. The package also includes a proposal to create a new EU authority to fight money laundering.
On 28 June, OCCRP reported on Belarusian PEP listed as owning real estate in Dubai, a kingdom in the UAE that has become a playground for the global rich. Following on from the Dubai Uncovered report in May, further investigations have identified a similar group of politically exposed citizens of Belarus among the listed property owners. They include Aliaksei Aleksin, a businessman sanctioned by the US and reputed to be Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko’s “wallet,” and others with ties to the regime in Minsk. The investigation reveals that, even in a country whose government places a high priority on Soviet-style equality, people connected to the authorities can earn big money and offshore it to the UAE.
On 29 June, a short article from Infosecurity said that a major underground market has developed around hospitality and travel fraud, and that those working in these industries, and consumers looking out for a bargain, should beware. It refers to research showing that reveals 4,000 dark web references to airline and hotel fraud worldwide last year.
On 20 June, Brown University in the US published a study which says that melting ice in the Arctic Ocean could yield new trade routes in international waters, reducing the shipping industry’s carbon footprint and weakening Russia’s control over trade routes through the Arctic. However, Arctic’s changing climate will endanger countless species that thrive in sub-zero temperatures, scientists say. It is projected that, by 2065, the Arctic’s navigability will increase so greatly that it could yield new trade routes in international waters.
On 29 June, MONEYVAL published its MER for Liechtenstein, which acknowledges Liechtenstein’s progress in improving measures to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism. However, it calls on the country to make more effort to invested in investigating and prosecuting money laundering of the widest range of foreign predicates, which target sophisticated money laundering schemes, including complex legal structures established and managed in the country.
On 29 June, the New Arab published Part 1 of a feature based on an OCCRP investigation and concerned with Nizar Hanna Nasri, who it says sits atop an empire spanning pharmaceuticals, liquor imports, and real estate developments – but that his success was built on a far less visible foundation: a globe-spanning trade in black-market cigarettes. It alleges that his facilities have fed billions of cigarettes into black markets from Cameroon to Moldova, and that OCCRP identified 4 counterfeit cigarette factories in Iraq linked to Nasri. Publicly, Nasri is a real estate tycoon, bankrolling shopping malls, residential complexes, and office high-rises in the Iraqi Kurdish capital Erbil. It is said that industry sources estimate there are up to 6 illicit cigarette factories in operation in Iraq today, and these include 3 linked to the operation Nasri built. It is claimed that, to build his international network, Nasri struck alliances with a wide range of smugglers, criminals, and high-level politicians.
On 29 June, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that 8 further individuals and 5 entities had been added to its Russia sanctions lists. At the same time, it advised that the existing entry for Natalya BROWNING had been corrected.
On 19 June, a Notice from HM Treasury advised that Andrei Mikhailovich BOGATOV, Alexander Yuryevich CHAIKO, Sergey Fedorovich RUDSKOY, and Andrey Nikolaevich TROSHEV; together with EVRO POLIS LLC, MERCURY LLC, and VELADA LLC had been added to sanctions lists. All 7 are Russian.