AML Headlines Recap – 07/07/20

Here’s some of the most interesting AML cases and related news headlines from around the globe over the last week!

Suspicions of Russian Bounties Were Bolstered by Data on Financial Transfers 

American officials intercepted electronic data showing large transfers from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence to a Taliban-linked account, evidence that supporting their conclusion that Russia covertly offered bounties for killing U.S. and coalition troops in Afghanistan, according to three officials familiar with the intelligence. 

Investigators also identified numerous persons  linked to the suspected Russian operation, the officials said — including a man believed to have served as an intermediary for distributing some of the funds. 

The intercepts bolstered the findings gleaned from the interrogations, helping reduce an earlier disagreement among intelligence analysts and agencies over the reliability of the detainees. The disclosures further undercut White House officials’ claim that the intelligence was too uncertain to brief President Trump. In fact, the information was provided to him in his daily written brief in late February, two officials have said. 

Afghan officials this week described a sequence of events that dovetailed with the account of the intelligence. They said that several businessmen who transfer money through the informal “hawala” system were arrested in Afghanistan over the past six months and were suspected of being part of a ring who operated between the Russian intelligence agency and Taliban-linked militants.  

A half-million dollars was seized from the home of one of the men, added a provincial official.  

US, India, Ghana Demand Extradition Of 11 Nigerians For Money Laundering 

The United States of America, India and Ghana, have requested the extradition of Eleven Nigerians to stand trial for crimes including money laundering. 

They made the demand in written reports to the Nigerian government. 

According to the government, the ministry’s Department of International Cooperation received eight extradition requests from US; three from Ghana and one from India between May 2019 and May 2020. 

“The request was denied by the HAGF (Honourable Attorney General of the Federation) because the offences allegedly committed by the suspects appeared to be political in nature. 

“Letter denying the request was sent to India,” the report read. 

The report also said that 42 Memoranda of Understand Nigeria and other countries were vetted during the period, while the ministry’s Department of Public Prosecutions received 1,120 terrorism-related cases in one year. 

It further noted that 500 of the 1,120 cases had been filed at the Federal High Court “while others have been recommended for de-radicalisation.” 

Sweden issues hefty fine to SEB Bank for AML breach 

The Swedish Financial Regulator issued yet another fine to SEB Bank – worth 1 billion Swedish Krona (€95.2 mln),. 

The fine is based on the results of investigations into the bank’s operations in the Baltic states –  Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. 

The Swedish regulator stated several problems, one of them being that the bank has insufficient resources for monitoring clients and transactions. 

This means was apparently due to incorrect risk calculations in the banks internal systems. This also might mean that the bank did not have sufficient staff to process all the necessary work. 

Another reason mentioned was many their clients were non-residents or residents with non-resident beneficiaries. 

Those relationships should have gone through an enhanced due-diligence process and risk assessment. Failure to apply such controls left the operations exposed to money-laundering risks. 

UK imposes sanctions against human rights abusers 

The UK is imposing sanctions on 49 people and organisations behind recent human rights abuses. 

Individuals implicated in the death of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky and Saudi Arabian officials involved in the murder of Jamal Khashoggi will be subject to UK asset freezes. 

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the move sent a “clear message”. 

Speaking in the Commons, the foreign secretary said the UK was taking action against the “thugs of despots and henchmen of dictators” as well as stopping those trying to launder their “blood-drenched ill-gotten gains”. 

Russia has threatened to reciprocate and said the sanctions were “pointless”. 

“Russia reserves the right to respond to today’s unfriendly decision by the UK on the basis of reciprocity,” the Russian embassy in London said in a statement, adding that the move “will not improve Russian-British relations”. 

Those subject to sanctions are: 

25 Russian nationals involved in the mistreatment and death of lawyer Sergei Magnitsky. 

20 Saudi nationals involved in the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul 

Two high-ranking Myanmar military generals involved in violence against the Rohingya people and other ethnic minorities 

Two organisations involved in forced labour, torture and murder in North Korea. 

Mr Raab said those targeted had been involved in extra-judicial killings, including political assassinations, torture, degrading treatment, forced labour and servitude. 

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