First, the good news, off into the mountains to see the Flower Festival in Boquete. A lovely place, even if 14% of the resident population is said to be gringo – one side of the town seems full of cafes and shops for them, with the other side (where the old railway station used to be) having the local shops, market and supermarket…
On 12 January, a release on Mondo Visione advised that the 3 European Supervisory Authorities (EBA, EIOPA and ESMA – together aka ESA) have published a joint thematic Report on national financial education initiatives on digitalisation, with a focus on cybersecurity, scams, and fraud. The Report identifies good practices that national competent authorities and other public entities can follow when designing and implementing their financial education initiatives.
On 12 January, Property Industry Eye reported that a trade body said that members have unnecessarily had accounts closed or restricted as they fall outside of the scope of AML regulations because they do not manage high-value properties with monthly rental incomes of €10,000. Members have reported that banks are asking them to carry out Customer Due Diligence to the level as set out in the Money Laundering Regulations when all letting agents are not legally required to do so. It is said that letting agents are being subject to unnecessary strictures around their pooled client accounts, from high street banks who are still misinterpreting AML regulations.
On 11 January, a report from OCCRP said that Romanian authorities are investigating China Tobacco’s main factory in Europe in connection with the possible smuggling of large quantities of cigarettes with organised crime groups. It is claimed that containers exited Romania via Hungary and then Ukraine or Transnistria, and after that they vanished, and that, in total, around 20 to 30 containers disappeared from the factory.
On 11 January the Virgin Islands Daily News reported that Julian Willock, the former BVI House of Assembly Speaker, has been arrested on suspicion of human trafficking into the territory. He said that he was being investigated on suspicion of human trafficking, because of some visa waivers he had obtained over the years. His arrest makes him the second highest political leader in the BVI facing possible criminal charges. Former Premier Andrew Fahie was arrested in April 2022, on drug conspiracy and money laundering charges.