Sunday, May 22, 2011

Fifteen arrested in money laundering inquiry

By BBC News

Fifteen people have been arrested across England in an investigation into the suspected laundering of more than £200m.
More than 250 officers from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) and police raided properties in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Yorkshire and Nottingham.
The raids were part of a long-running investigation, codenamed Operation Enigma, HMRC said.
HMRC said the activity "sent a clear message" about money laundering.
Seven people, four men and three women aged between 32 and 71, were arrested in Rochdale.
A 31-year-old man was arrested in Manchester.
Four men, aged between 27 and 55, were arrested in Bradford.
In Nottingham, two men aged 43 and 37 were arrested while a 50-year-old man was arrested in Southport.
Alan Lee, HMRC's deputy director for criminal investigation, said: "Operation Enigma is an HMRC-led investigation targeting money laundering offences.
"Further details cannot be provided at this early stage, as our investigation is continuing.
"However, our activity today sends out a clear message to those involved in this type of criminality.
"Attempts to launder the proceeds of crime are treated extremely seriously by HMRC, and we will relentlessly pursue any individuals or crime gangs believed to be actively involved in money laundering."

Michael Hearns an Anti Money Laundering specialist with over 24 years of AML experience can also be found at and on twitter at :!/LaunderingMoney

Saturday, May 14, 2011

FinCEN: Suspected Terrorist Financing, Money Laundering up in 2010

The Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said suspicious activity reports (SARs) categorized as Terrorist Financing and BSA/Structuring/Money Laundering rose considerably in 2010 compared with 2009. Terrorist Financing SARs rose 30%; Money Laundering filings, after declining in 2009, increased 9%.

The SAR Activity Review—By the Numbers, Issue 16, said total filings to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) database in 2010 increased 3.5%. The overall increase was driven by a 12% rise in the number of SARs originating from non-depository institutions. The semiannual report said filings by non-depository institutions represented 47% of all 2010 SARs, up from 44% in 2009.

Depository institutions actually reported 3% fewer SARs than in 2009. Bucking the overall decline in this category was a 4% increase in reports from depository institutions whose primary federal regulator is the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Reports from depository institutions that the NCUA does not oversee declined.

Mortgage Loan Fraud (MLF) SARs rose 5% in 2010. MLF SARs have increased every year since 2001, and reports from 2009 and 2010 represent 39% of all MLF SARs filed since 2001. Reports of Computer Intrusion fell 26% after the same category saw a 52% jump from 2008 to 2009.

Filings from Money Services Businesses (MSBs) increased 12% to an all-time high of 596,494 SARs in 2010. Gaming establishments posted a 16% increase in filings to 13,987. Card Clubs alone saw a 180% rise, from 252 references in 2009 to 707 in 2010.

FinCEN also released The SAR Activity Review—Trends, Tips & Issues, which focuses primarily on foreign corruption, including identifying and reporting on suspicious activities involving senior foreign political figures. The “Trends & Analysis” section leads with an overview of corruption-related SAR filings covering 2009 and 2010, followed by articles that take a more focused look at aspects of these filings.

Michael Hearns an Anti Money Laundering specialist with over 24 years of AML experience can also be found at and on twitter at :!/LaunderingMoney

Monday, May 9, 2011

Five tons of Gold and Silver to be auctioned in Money Laundering settlement

Five tons of gold and silver jewelry, seized as a result of a money-laundering investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is being sold by sealed bid by the U.S. Marshals Service.
The service announced today that the gold and silver jewelry can be reviewed at an undisclosed site in Texas - by appointment only - to registered bidders. Registration for the auction is open until Friday and requires a $100,000 refundable deposit.
The bulk lot consists of more than 40,000 troy ounces of mixed-karat gold jewelry and more than 100,000 troy ounces of silver jewelry, according to the U.S. Marshals Service.
The money-laundering investigation involved two Panama companies that were laundering narcotics proceeds from the United States, according to investigators.
Yardena Hebroni and Eliahu Mizrani were charged with laundering millions of dollars in narcotics proceeds through a wholesale jewelry business, Speed Joyeros S.A., and a related company, Argento Vivo, S.A., which together did more than $100 million annually.
Hebroni and Mizrahi, and both companies, pleaded guilty to money laundering.

Michael Hearns an Anti Money Laundering specialist with over 24 years of AML experience can also be found at and on twitter at :!/LaunderingMoney

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Feds closing in on HSBC in money laundering probe

The Justice Department's money-laundering probe against banking giant HSBC Holdings Plc is looking at possible prosecution of individual bankers, a source close to the investigation said on Thursday.
By Bret Wolf

The source, who has direct knowledge of the probe which was disclosed last year, said it is moving slowly in part because of the close examination for potential individual prosecutions. He did not name any targeted individuals.
"I understand they are meticulously doing interviews with one primary objective driven by the Justice Department on this case, which is to identify and prosecute any individuals within the bank for which the evidence will support such an action. Prosecuting individuals is their number one priority," the source said on condition of anonymity.
The Justice Department probe is linked to bulk cash the bank received from money-changing firms in Mexico, the source said. The concern is that the bank may have handled money belonging to the Mexican drug cartels.
HSBC spokesman Rob Sherman declined to comment on the status of the investigations. "As we've indicated in our filings, we are subject to certain investigations by government authorities. In all cases, we're cooperating and seeking to resolve these matters," Sherman said.
The Justice Department was heavily criticized last August after reaching a deal to allow Barclays Bank to settle charges that it violated U.S. sanctions laws by forfeiting $298 million. While the federal judge overseeing the case ultimately approved the pact, he first dubbed it a "sweetheart deal" and questioned why the bank officials responsible were not held to account.
The judge's comments reflected a growing concern, on Capitol Hill and elsewhere, that banks found to have violated U.S. money laundering or sanctions laws can absolve themselves by simply writing a check. The concern is that such a system makes these payments a cost of doing business and does not deter such crimes.
In October, a group of federal regulators disclosed enforcement actions against HSBC North American Holdings Inc and HSBC Bank USA. The regulators obliged the bank to improve its compliance risk-management program, including its anti-money laundering compliance regime, but did not at the time issue a fine.
One of the regulators involved, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, stated that the bank "had deficiencies with respect to suspicious activity reporting, monitoring of bulk cash purchases and international funds transfers, customer due diligence concerning its foreign affiliates, and risk assessment with respect to politically-exposed persons and their associates."

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Southern Command General identifies money laundering as one of the threats to the U.S from Latin America

Cross border criminal organizations specializing in drug, arms trafficking and money laundering are the principal threat to the United States in Latin America, a top US general said Friday.
"I do not see any conventional military threat to the United States from the region," General Douglas Fraser told a conference organized by the University of Miami. "So my concerns then become... very non-traditional.
The threats come from "transnational criminal organizations and the impact they are having on politics, the economy, and societies throughout the region," he said.
Fraser, who heads up the US military's Southern Command, said corruption makes it difficult to fight these organizations, which continue to grow and strengthen, especially in Mexico and Central America.
In some countries, he said, "endemic" corruption aids the activities of the criminal gangs.
"Law enforcement organizations are not respected, the judiciary systems lack the ability to investigate, convict, and put in prison those who are detained," said Fraser.
"All of that brings to the region a sense of impunity, and that has a significant impact on the overall security problem."
Fraser also noted that Iran continues to try to increase its diplomatic and commercial influence in the region, although it is not yet seen as a security threat.
Fraser noted that Iran had almost doubled the number of embassies in the region in the past five years, established cultural centers in 17 countries, and is supporting anti-US efforts in the area."
But, he said, "from a security standpoint, I have not seen a significant connection. My primary concern remains their historic relationship with Hezbollah."