Financial Crime Developments, Resources and Stories: October 2023 Edition

Welcome to the October 2023 summary of news you can use as your bank or other financial institution attempts to stay up to date on the world of BSA/AML/CFT compliance. This is the second in our monthly series of curated news about developments, resources and stories that shed light on BFS industry happenings as they relate to fighting financial crime.  

In this edition, we cover four important data and news sources that address the following topics: 

  • Doubts arise regarding FinCen’s US Corporate Beneficial Ownership Registry 
  • Singapore takes a reputational hit around money laundering and AML enforcement  
  • China’s People Protectorate steps up international AML compliance enforcement 
  • US and UK called out as starting points for Crypto-financed terrorism 

We hope you find the following information roundup useful to your efforts in fending off financial crimes and staying in compliance with increasingly complex regulatory regimes. 

Doubts arise around the US Corporate Beneficial Ownership Registry   

During a panel discussion at ACAMS Las Vegas, which took place in early October, several panelists expressed their doubts that banks will benefit from the US Corporate Beneficial Ownership Registry. One panelist suggested that the credibility of the database’s information will be at risk due to exemptions to the associated reporting rule and the absence of a plan for verifying the accuracy of information submissions. This follows on the heels of several US Senators expressing their concerns about the potential lack of value and efficacy of the registry.  

The Senators questioned how the registry can even work effectively without robust technology and automation. In a letter which the Senators penned, they stated, “If FinCEN manually reviews every request from each financial institution, it risks overwhelming the capacity of the agency, generating major delays in the financial system, and undermining the utility of the directory.”  

Read more about the registry here: Beneficial Ownership Information Reporting | 

Singapore’s reputation takes a hit as money laundering abounds 

Singapore has enjoyed a longstanding reputation for clean governance and zero tolerance for crime, and that has attracted many of the wealthiest people and foreign investment. In 2022, wealth inflows into Singapore totaled $1.5 trillion, according to Boston Consulting Group. This ranks Singapore third in popularity among the global well-to-do for maintaining their assets in a safe place, behind only Hong Kong and Switzerland.  

Yet, Singapore authorities seized or froze assets worth more than $2.8 billion Singapore Dollars (US$2 billion) in one of the city-state’s largest money laundering investigations, a senior official said on October 3, 2023. That same official stated that the Singapore government could tighten immigration rules to curb illicit inflows.  

Such an immense money laundering case has hurt Singapore’s squeaky-clean reputation. As a result, Singapore is setting up an inter-ministerial committee to review the existing system to prevent money laundering. The committee will focus on how to prevent corporate structures from being used by criminals and how financial firms can enhance their controls and work more effectively with the authorities. 

In focus for authorities are family offices because they adhere to few rules or regulations and are not required to do so. Authorities will also look into professions such as real estate agents, precious-metals dealers and corporate service providers. The goal is to establish safeguards against the proliferation of money laundering in the city-state.  

Read these two articles for more details: 

S’pore money laundering case among world’s largest with assets seized worth over $2.8b | The Straits Times 

$2 Billion Seized as Singapore’s Massive Money Laundering Probe Widens | TIME  

China’s People Protectorate steps up international AML compliance enforcement 

The People’s Procuratorate is the legal authority to prosecute money laundering within China at all levels. As part of China’s PRC, the People’s Procuratorate acts in concert with other government agencies to enforce and prosecute money laundering crimes.  

In the Singapore money laundering case cited above, some of the 10 people arrested were wanted in China for crimes including scams and offshore online gambling operations that cater illegally to people in mainland China. 

The raids in Singapore came shortly after a two-day visit by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. 

To learn more, read this article: How $2 Billion Money Laundering Scandal Threatens Singapore’s Image – The Washington Post 

US and UK called out as starting points for Crypto-financed terrorism 

In a recent article focused on ways to prevent terror groups like Hamas from gaining access to funds via Crypto, Peter Howson pointed out that there is little doubt that urgent action is needed. However, there is ambiguity in gaining blanket crackdowns, because many countries and groups (good and bad) have needs for veiled Crypto funding, such as aiding stranded citizens in foreign and dangerous situations that require secretive fund flows to assist them. 

Nevertheless, Howson points out that Crypto crackdowns are needed and that the place to start is not where terror activities happen or where war breaks out, but where the Crypto begins. In that, he revealed several startling facts: “More cryptocurrencies are produced in the US than anywhere else in the world. Most of the largest exchanges call the US home. London is growing as one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions. Conservative Party politicians offer a warm embrace to big crypto industry players. The largest crypto Venture Capital firm a16Z, Worldcoin founder Sam Altman, and Changpeng Zhao have all been encouraged to the UK.” Thus, to begin a Crypto crackdown, it would make most sense (and easier enforcement) to start at the main sources – the US and UK. 

To access in-depth insights on how your organization can more effectively and efficiently overcome financial crime compliance challenges, visit the Resources page at WorkFusion to gain in-depth insights and a wide range of best practices information 

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