The Week Of: December 16, 2019

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.

OFAC issues sanctions compliance guidance for art community

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control issued guidance last week that advises members of the art community about their sanctions compliance obligations.

The guidance was published in conjunction with the sanctioning of Nazem Said Ahmad, a prominent diamond dealer and art collector. The U.S. claims that Ahmad has links to Lebanon-based Hezbollah and that he established a gallery in Beirut as a front to launder money to support the group’s alleged terrorist activities.

According to Kharon Brief, Treasury “told galleries, museums, private collectors and others facilitating arts transactions to implement risk-based compliance programs, which may include sanctions list screening.”

Read more from Kharon Brief.

Warren targets shell companies

Claiming that opening a shell company to launder money was “easier than getting a library card,” U.S. Senator and Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren announced a set of policy proposals that would crack down on offshore companies and tax evasion.

In a Medium post, Warren said she would require beneficial ownership disclosure; issue rules holding lawyers, financial service providers, accountants and real estate services providers accountable for enabling money laundering; gather better data on cross-border financial flows; and expand anti-bribery laws against foreign officials, among a slew of other proposals.

Read more from Bloomberg.

Report: major banks unknowingly process billions in crypto business

Blockchain analytics firm CipherTrace claims that large banks may be unknowingly processing up to $2 billion in cryptocurrency-related transfers each year.

The company says its research indicates that unregistered crypto businesses, such as exchanges, are using the top commercial banks to process funds, and that most financial institutions are “ill-equipped” to identify virtual asset service providers as required by law.

Last month, CipherTrace reported that $4.4 billion had been lost to crypto frauds and scams so far in 2019, while FinCEN has reported an increase in suspicious activity reports related to digital currencies.

Read more at Coin Telegraph.