The Week Of: February 17, 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.

Cybercrime losses on the rise

Financial losses due to cybercrime have reached record levels and show no signs of letting up, according to the FBI.

The agency’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) recently released its 2019 Internet Crime Report. The report notes that IC3 received nearly 1,300 complaints every day in 2019 and recorded more than $3.5 billion in losses to individuals and businesses.

Nearly half of recorded losses were due to business email compromise scams, totaling more than $1.7 billion in losses.

Read the FBI report here.

Meanwhile, at a conference in the UK, authorities noted that “75% of all fraud crimes reported are cyber-enabled” and called the fight between fraudsters and firms a “technological arms race.”

Read more at Business Matters.

Crypto on a collision course with regulators

Cryptocurrencies and blockchain continue to grow in popularity; don’t think regulators haven’t noticed.

Fifty officials and experts from global Financial Intelligence Units met in Paris recently to discuss growing concerns surrounding virtual assets, saying it was “instrumental that FIUs continue to share their operational experiences and expertise” in the fight against crypto-related money laundering and terrorist financing.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin has warned that “significant” new crypto regulations are on their way. President Trump’s budget proposal includes $127 million for FinCEN to “combat virtual currency and cybercrime threats.”

Meanwhile, the IRS is convening a summit on March 3 and is calling upon crypto-related companies and executives to attend to discuss how to “balance taxpayer service with regulatory enforcement.”

Elsewhere, Russia’s central bank has categorized any cryptocurrency transactions as a potential money laundering risk; new rules and threats of fines have shut down two exchanges in Brazil; Switzerland lowered the threshold for unidentified crypto exchange transactions from 5,000 CHF to 1,000 CHF; and the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority is urging lawmakers to establish a legal framework to address financial threats posed by cryptocurrencies.

2020 is shaping up to be an interesting year in the crypto world.

Simply the best…at being the worst

In a dubious honor, the Cayman Islands has placed no. 1 in the Tax Justice Network’s 2020 Financial Secrecy Index, a ranking of jurisdictions according to their secrecy and scale of offshore activities.

Though located in the western Caribbean, the Caymans are a British overseas territory and are considered part of the “Anglo-American axis of secrecy” that exacerbates corruption and tax abuse, said Alex Cobham, TJN’s chief executive.

More than 100,000 companies are registered in the Islands, far outnumbering the resident population of 61,000.

Read more at Reuters.