The Week Of: September 7, 2020

This week’s news and stories of interest to the AML community. If you prefer a news roundup plus other AML/KYC content sent to you, subscribe to This Week Today – our weekly newsletter.

European Commission FinCrime Chief: New EU-wide AML system needed

The head of the Financial Crime for the European Commission said a new system is needed to coordinate EU-wide AML controls.

In an interview with AML Intelligence, Raluca Pruna said there needs to be a shift to a more centralized force instead of the current practice of tackling money laundering on a country-by-country basis.

“Current rules are often ineffective in dealing with new threats arising from innovation, in facilitating legitimate business conducted across borders, or when it comes to ensuring equal supervisory and oversight standards,” Pruna told AML. 

Pruna said she did not want to replace national supervisors, but to coordinate with them and tighten the various loopholes that exist with the various member states.

Read more from AML Intelligence.

SWIFT: Cybercriminals still prefer ‘old school’ methods of money laundering

SWIFT, the global cooperative that enables banks to send and receive information about financial transactions, published a new report detailing what happens to money that is stolen in a cyberattack.

Despite crypto’s reputation has a cybercrime haven, hackers still prefer using “old school” methods of laundering money, such as money mules and drug trafficking. They will also convert stolen funds into assets such as property and jewelry because they are likely to hold value and less likely to attract law enforcement’s attention.

At the moment, laundering via cryptocurrencies is still relatively negligible. “Identified cases of laundering through cryptocurrencies remain relatively small compared to the volumes of cash laundered through traditional methods,” said SWIFT.

Brett Lancaster, Head of the Customer Security Programme at SWIFT said: “The threat posed by cyber-attacks to the financial sector has never been greater. Attackers are well-resourced, constantly evolving their modus operandi and using untraceable money laundering techniques.

“The report highlights how the growth in cyber attacks is increasing the need for the convergence of anti-money laundering, fraud and cybersecurity processes in financial institutions. It calls for them to increase information sharing, tighten due diligence requirements and smartly invest in maintaining systems to strengthen their defences.”

Read more from HelpNet Security.

Wildlife trafficking in Brazil soars during pandemic

Job losses and lack of government attention during the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an explosion of exotic species poaching in Brazil, according to InSight Crime.

From January through August, illegally transported animal seizures, mostly birds, rose nearly 500 percent over the same period in 2019. While birds are the most targeted animals, the trafficking of snakes has greatly increased, as has the hunting and killing of jaguars.

Wildlife NGOs mostly blame the loss of jobs since the beginning of the pandemic.

“Generally, those who capture (the animals) are people with a lower economic status in Brazil’s poorer regions,” Marcela Pavlenco, president of Brazilian non-governmental organization, SOS Fauna, told CBN.

“Many people have lost their jobs. Many who knew about this type of illegal trade but did not work in it…have now begun to sell these animals,” she added.

For Brazilians desperate for money, wildlife trafficking is tempting. There is money to be made from trafficking in exotic species and an insufficient response to the problem from the current government.

Read more from Insight Crime.