The Week Of: February 10, 2020

This week’s news and stories of interest to the AML community. If you prefer a news roundup sent to you, subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

U.S. Treasury releases roadmap to modernize AML/CFT regime

The Treasury Department recently issued a roadmap it said was designed to “modernize the U.S. anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) regime to make it more effective and efficient.”

The 2020 National Strategy for Combating Terrorist and Other Illicit Financing identified vulnerabilities and emerging threats within the financial system and laid out some of its efforts to address these issues.

Problems faced by regulators include:

  • fuzzy regulation surrounding digital assets;
  • lack of beneficial ownership information; and
  • lack of AML requirements on some financial institutions and gatekeeper professions.

Read more from the Wall Street Journal. Read the full 2020 Strategy report here.

North Korea uses cyber crimes to evade sanctions

New research has found a 300 percent spike in Internet usage in North Korea since 2017 as cyber crime has become a “critical tool” for the Kim regime to evade sanctions and make money.

North Korea-aligned hackers are suspected in hacks of cryptocurrency exchanges and banks, as well as the SWIFT global banking infrastructure. According to the Insikt Group’s report, the regime uses the privacy cryptocurrency Monero to launder the proceeds of their cyber crimes. Privacy coins like Monero are designed to obscure the source or destination of their transactions.

The report also warns that other sanctioned countries such as Venezuela and Iran may use North Korea’s criminal activities as a model to evade their own sanctions.

Read more from Newsweek.

EU regulator warns member states over 5AMLD delays

The European Commission has sent legal warnings to eight member states over delays in implementing new anti-money laundering laws that were adopted two years ago.

The Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive was proposed in 2016, adopted in 2018, and implementation was to officially occur on January 10 of this year. However, Cyprus, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain have yet to turn the new rules into national laws.

The European Commission gave these countries essentially verbal warnings in January. The letter of “formal notice” is the “first step of a lengthy legal procedure that could lead to fines if rules are not correctly applied.”

Read more from Reuters.