6AMLD of EU - A Detailed Insight

6AMLD of EU – A detailed insight

European union’s another anti-money laundering directive is in the pipeline. And this time the union is aiming for uniformity in AML/CFT practices across member countries while keeping up with changing international regimes.

The estimated amount of money laundered globally in one year is 2 – 5% of global GDP, or $800 billion. And in the EU money laundering accounts for up to 1.2 % of the EU’s annual GDP, or around $225.2bn (€197.2bn) in 2018, according to a 2017 report by Europol.

Recently the 5AMLD was implemented on 10 January 2020. The fifth directive mainly targeted loopholes in certain sectors. It addressed the loopholes in prepaid cards, virtual assets, and precious metal dealing. The major change that came due to 5AMLD is that the identity verification threshold for prepaid cards is reduced from €250 to €150. This threshold for remote transactions is €50. 

Now the 6AMLD is in the next big change in the AML/CFT regimes of the EU. The member states are required to integrate the new directive into their national laws by December 2020 and the reporting entities are required to completely implement the new laws by June 2021. The new directive is drafted well to close any left loopholes in AML/CFT regulations.

Key Features of 6AMLD

The 6AMLD is not only about fulfilling minimum regulatory requirements but about changing the attitude towards AML/CFT. The reporting entities need to go another mile to play their role in eliminating money laundering.

Key Features of 6AMLD

1. A list of predicate offences

A list of 22 predicate offences is provided in AMLD6. It includes offences related to environmental crime, cyber crimes, tax crime, and self-laundering. The directive includes ‘aiding and abetting’ and ‘attempting and inciting’, which means that criminal liability will be extended to people or businesses that are used in the criminal offence. Businesses will be liable for penalties if money laundering is channeled through their system due to a lack of preventive measures. 

The offenses are clearly defined in the official journal of the 6AMLD. The reason behind this measure is to create uniformity in the AML/CFT measures of member states. Because lack of uniformity is one of the major reasons behind money laundering scandals in EU member states. 

2. Increase in non-compliance penalties

The 6AMLD has clearly defined the penalties for businesses and individuals. 

Natural persons 

The individuals involved in money laundering are called “natural persons” in the 6AMLD. Non-compliance penalty is increased for the natural persons. Now a sentence of four years is non-compliance penalty, it was one year previously. As mentioned in the official journal

In order to deter money laundering throughout the Union, Member States should ensure that it is punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least four years.”  

Also, the monetary fine is increased to five million Euros. 

Legal persons 

Businesses are described as “legal person”. In case a business is found to be a part of a financial crime due to lack of AML measures or negligence it will be liable for these below-mentioned penalties:

  • Exclusion from entitlement to public benefits or aid
  • Permanent or temporary disqualification to perform commercial activities
  • Judicial winding up
  • Temporary or permanent closure
  • Placed under judicial supervision

3. “Aiding and Abetting” and “ inciting and attempting” 

The scope of AML regulations is increased to” aiding and abetting” and “ inciting and attempting”. The 6AMLD official journal clearly states, “Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that aiding and abetting, inciting and attempting an offence referred to in Article 3(1) and (5) is punishable as a criminal offence.”

4. Alignment with international laws

The Journal states that the member countries are required to implement the 6AMLD while keeping their AML/CFT laws aligned with international laws. It will increase transparency in financial infrastructure. 

This means the reporting entities (businesses/ legal persons) will be required to follow the new regulations that will be aligned with international regimes.

5. FATF recommendations EU AML laws

The 6AMLD will require the member countries to align AML laws with the FATF recommendations. The tax crimes are defined as a criminal offence and the preventive measures are required to be designed in light of revised recommendations of FATF. 

6. Not missing on the virtual currencies

The sixth anti-money laundering directive requires the member countries to take concrete steps towards elimination of risk coming with these virtual assets. The reporting entities such as crypto exchanges, digital asset exchanges, cryptocurrency dealers, crypto wallet providers and businesses accepting cryptocurrency payments will be facing some major AML/KYC compliance scrutiny in 2021. 

How businesses should prepare for the change?

The ultimate effect of changing regimes is on the businesses. The new directive is drafted to change the perspective of businesses towards AML/CFT compliance. The new regulations of “Aiding and abetting”, and “ inciting and attempting” have changed the compliance requirements. Businesses will be liable for heavy penalties if they’re found to be involved in the criminal offence. Even if they’re used as a tool or a channel. 

The reporting entities are required to have an in-depth understanding of the risks and threats and to take necessary steps to eliminate the risk of any of the listed criminal offences being channeled from their platform. 

The businesses are expected to have a completely updated setup for compliance requirements. Digital identity screening could prove to be a reliable partner of the businesses in this regard. As it provides global coverage in the screening of individuals and businesses it helps reporting entities maintain a global risk cover against bad actors.

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6AMLD of EU – A detailed insight

AML solutions: Eliminating the risks of money laundering

AML Solutions: Eliminating the Risks of Money Laundering

Money laundering is a serious crime that can have serious and long-term consequences for your business. Oftentimes, small business owners are offered business opportunities that they can’t simply pass up. It looks like easy money, so they accept and start serving as a facilitator for money laundering. According to a PwC survey, global money laundering transactions account for roughly $1 trillion to $2 trillion annually or 5% of global GDP.

What is money laundering?

The basic concept of money laundering revolves around transforming dirty money into clean money or in a more formal way, money laundering is the process of making a large amount of money generated through illegal activity appear to have earned through legitimate sources. 

Money laundering is typically done through 3 steps: placement, layering, and integration. 

  • Placement is to put illegal money into a legitimate financial system such as a bank
  • Layering is to mask the source of money through a series of transactions and bookkeeping techniques
  • Integration is to withdraw laundered money from a legal account and utilize it

Know more about money laundering process in this demo:

The money laundering is generally accomplished through currency exchanges, wire transfers, smurfing, and shell companies. Moreover, the globalization and digitalization have expanded the capabilities of money launderers, making it more difficult to identify the source of the transaction. Online banking, P2P services, money exchange businesses, and now cryptocurrency have made it difficult to detect the illegal transfer of money. 

However, laundering money is a serious offence. It could lead to heavy fines, penalties and even jail time. According to International Comparative Legal Guide, the maximum penalties for laundering money are fines up to $50,000 or double the amount of property involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment up to 20 years for each violation. 

Risk of money laundering for small businesses

Small businesses are often the victims of money laundering. Criminals target small businesses because the owners of such businesses lack experience and knowledge about the risks involved with a certain type of business dealing. Further, they don’t have allocated resources and knowledge about Anti Money Laundering (AML) compliance.

Protecting your business against money laundering

By adopting anti-money laundering solutions and practices, you can protect your business from money laundering threats. 

What is Anti Money Laundering?

Anti-money laundering or AML is a methodology or a policy that governs: how the company monitors transactions, detects and reports financial crimes to the regulatory authority. For this purpose, companies adopt different AML solutions that screens and tackles money laundering risks, which the company faces or could face in the future.

AML compliance was first coined with the formation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 1989. The main concept for its formation was to devise international standards to prevent money laundering and to promote these standards.

In past AML laws has been slow to catch up with cybercrimes, since most of the AML solutions were deployed for traditional banking institutes. However, amid the digital transformation, FATF and other regulatory authorities started focusing on digital transactions and devised stringent regulations to prevent money laundering using digital platforms.

To follow and comply with these regulations, businesses need AML solutions that could detect suspicious transactions and perform due diligence during the onboarding process.    

Automated AML solutions for enhancing AML process

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been transforming different operational sectors in the finance industry. Automating the tasks that involve data processing and analyzation, filtering out false alerts, and identifying complex criminal conducts are some of the tasks that are being automated using artificial intelligence. To prevent money laundering, banks and other financial institutes use AI-driven AML solutions. These systems are used to identify and categorise suspicious transactional activities.

AI is deemed crucial for performing repetitive tasks while saving time, resources and efforts, which can be reallocated for other tasks. Natural language processing and machine learning are usually adopted for automating AML screening tasks. 

6 Ways AML Solutions can prevent Small Businesses from Money Laundering

Here are ways in which AI-driven AML solutions have revolutionised customer and business screening.

Enhanced due diligence

Artificial intelligence automates the enhanced due diligence process. It starts by taking steps to ensure you know who you are dealing with, understanding and monitoring their transactional activities and accessing their risks of money laundering.

Monitoring transactions and activity

AI-powered risk-based solutions and procedures help monitor ongoing customer activity to detect fraud, as well as money laundering activities including but not limited to placement, layering, and integration of funds.

Reviewing odd patterns of transactions

In most of the cases, launderers use hundreds of different accounts to perform small transactions that can easily surpass without being detected. While it’s difficult for humans to identify such transactions, automated AML solutions can easily identify such smaller transactions and reveal a pattern of illegal activity related to money laundering or terrorist financing.

Identifying Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs)

PEPs compliance is mandatory for firms. It is crucial to identify the risks associated with your customers. According to FATF, any person who is or has been holding any public office or function is a politically exposed person and to do business with any such entity, organisations should perform enhanced due diligence and monitor their ongoing transactional activities.  

Money laundering is a serious risk for small businesses. In addition to facing criminal charges and hefty fines. Involving in money laundering activity intentionally or accidentally could lead to fines and may damage your brand reputation. With this in mind, small business owners need to study and comply with AML regulations. 

An inside look at the need for AML in the e-gaming industry

An inside look at the need for AML in the e-gaming industry

Data analytics and trends show the penetration of the population into console-based online video games and smartphone gaming applications. Online video gaming platforms having microtransaction features tend to handle much of financial transactions on their own, they are not considered a bank or a saving association. Therefore do not lie under the regulations of the Office of Foreign Assets Control or Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). However, the facility of financial transactions to buy gaming assets are raising several security challenges in the e-gaming industry. 

Financial frauds, the major threat the e-gaming industry is prone to. Money laundering, a huge financial crime is facilitated using the gaming industry a medium. By selling digital goods and currency (in-game), money laundering activities are conducted. The rise of online gaming has opened the ways for fraudsters to conduct financial crimes in the complex environment in which players operate. The loopholes in the gaming systems are well-analyzed and misused by laundering millions. This is challenging for the e-gaming industry to regulate the sector and deter the risks of financial crimes. 

Moreover, money launderers use e-gaming platforms to convert embezzle funds into good money. The video game industry can reduce money laundering activities by taking in place dynamic AML practices that filter out the bad actors beforehand. 

Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT)

To disguise the ownership of illicit funds, money launderers use several means to hide money or convert it into legitimate money. The money that is earned as a result of cross-border organized criminal activities is concealed by money launderers either by transferring it across the world or buying properties with that. This is what happens in the online gaming industry. Assets are bought with in-game currency and in the form of assets, money is laundered. 

Having a comprehensive AML and CFT program is not only a regulatory requirement but a business practice on which business reputation, as well as profits, are dependent. Moreover, to fight against the criminal liabilities facilitated through e-gaming platforms can better be avoided taking in place stringent AML and CFT actions. 

Player identification

Online casinos’ major concern is fraud prevention. Especially money laundering that is residing in the industry can better be prevented by identifying each onboarding player at the time of account registration and financial transactions. Customer Due Diligence and AML background checks should be implemented in real-time while onboarding a player. This will help build a clean customer base.

Player identification usually can be performed by verifying the identity details. By authenticating official ID documents, KYC compliance can be achieved. The real-time captured information is then validated against the updated global watchlists. AML screening is performed during identity validation in which various AM background checks are implemented that ensure the identity’s data against exclusion lists such as;

  • Sanction Lists
  • Government-issued Data Sources
  • Watchlists
  • Money Launderers
  • Criminal Databases
  • Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) List

By collecting the extensive details from identity and validating them against criminal databases, online casinos and gaming platforms can build a compliance program that can help them comply with local and global regulatory obligations as well as protect their business from any monetary loss. 

Moreover, ongoing identity monitoring is equally important. One time identity verification can not help eliminate money laundering activities entirely. In-between identity verification deters the risks of malicious transactions and suspicious activities. Just to overcome the effort of identity verification, biometric identification can help in robust verification without compromising user experience and keeping intact the security perspectives simultaneously. 

Other money-laundering countermeasures

Other than verifying the identity of a player, countermeasures can be taken that prevent the direct and indirect approaches of fraudsters of laundering money. These measures are:

  • Detective and preventive controls in assistance with technology should be taken to investigate if some players are exchanging the information among themselves to cheat the gaming system and perform money laundering.
  • Preventive measures against identity theft should be taken to avoid the misuse of someone’s identity by the fraudster to launder money. 
  • The customer information collected at the time of identity verification should be protected from any uncontrolled/unauthorized access. 
  • The customer’s credit card details should be protected from unauthorized access.
  • Enhanced Due Diligence measures to combat money launderers from entering into a legitimate system.
  • Prohibiting direct payment system between customers.
  • Monitoring the transactions between countries and immediate blocking when money is sent to some country that does not register previously as the home country.
  • Reporting of suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit.

Risk-based approach

Online gaming companies are required to evaluate the measures they have taken to counter bad actors and their malevolent activities in an online environment. Identification of risks and mitigating them to avoid severe circumstances is the priority of every business. Assigning each onboarding identity a risk rating can help prevent money laundering in the e-gaming sector. With the risk rating approach, gaming companies can develop appropriate AML and CFT measures to combat potential threats. 

Future prospects to combat money laundering in e-gaming

The online video gaming industry will be evolving in the years ahead and create new opportunities for enhanced monetization. By employing an enhanced identity verification framework, the e-gaming sector can proactively avoid regulatory fines and penalties. Identity verifications supported by AI-based and machine learning models that facilitate automation facility would be the future of combating money laundering from the online gaming industry. Hence, providing a financially safer platform and a secure environment from bad actors. Moreover, improved revenue generation opportunities for e-gaming seems to be on the way in years ahead. 

danske to face 2 billion fine for money

Danske to face $2 billion fine for money laundering

According to Jyske Bank, Danske will probably be fined around 13.5 billion kroner (around $2 billion) over the money laundering case by authorities in Denmark, the USA, and the UK, as the investigations in Europe’s biggest money-laundering scandal draw to a close.

Danske Bank was previously indicted for suspicious transactions of 200 billion euros at there Estonian unit. The Denmark-based bank is cooperating with probes by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, among others. Another writ, which was filed on December 27th, 2019, in the district court of Cophengan by law firm Nemeth Sigetty, is for about 1.5 billion kroner, according to a statement.

Penalties tied to investigations will drive up Danske’s operating expenses to 42.4 billion kroner this year, according to an analyst at Jyske Bank. The costs are expected to return to normal next year.

As Danske Bank released the full dimensions of laundering scandal in September 2018, it’s shares have taken a beating. It now trades at large discounts to peers and Jyske, which recommends buying the stock, says the current price more than incorporates the consequences of the money-laundering scandal.

EU’s AMLD5: What does it mean and how will it impact the AML regulation regimes?

EU’s AMLD5: What does it mean and how will it impact the AML regulation regimes?

From the Panama papers, Paradise leaks and Danske Bank case to the most recent revelations about SEB bank, money laundering scandals over the last few years have taken the world by storm. As general awareness about money laundering strengthened, so did the pressure on the regulatory authorities across the globe to counter build proper anti-money laundering laws and regulations

With every new revelation, lawmakers gain a great insight into how the financial system can be exploited and, as a result, find better ways to devise new amendments in already existing laws.

This is one of the reasons why the European Commission proposed the 5th Money Laundering Directive only a year after the legalization of AMLD4. Although published in the official journal of the EU in June 2018, AMLD5 was originally proposed in July 2016 as a part of its action plan against terror financing and money laundering, after the Paris and Brussels attacks, and as a reaction to Panama paper published in 2016.

The primary intention to make changes by January 2017 looked over-aggressive; a final devised text was reached in December 2017. 5th Money laundering Directive came into force in July 2018, and member states are required to make amendments in national laws accordingly before 20th January 2020.

What are the Key Changes in the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive? 

AMLD5 serves greater prospects and shows the European Union’s leadership role in AML legislation. One of the key features of AMLD5 is that it proposes changes in already existing legislation in AMLD4, instead of replacing them.

The precise amendments that the fifth directive proposed are:

  • The scope of money laundering screening is extended to virtual currency providers, art worker traders, e-wallet providers, and tax-related services.
  • European member states require to develop a list containing all public offices and its functions nationally that qualify as politically exposed (PEP) for enhanced due diligence.
  • Financial flows from high-risk non-European states are subjected to high due diligence.
  • AMLD5 makes it obligatory to consult beneficial ownership registers while performing AML screening.
  • The directive also recommends that access to beneficial ownership information for EU based businesses should be made publicly accessible. In AMLD4, this information was not publicly accessible.
  • It also ends the anonymity of saving accounts and safe deposits across all the banks under the European Union.
  • Information on real estate holders is to be made centrally available to public authorities across Europe.
  • The payment threshold for prepaid cards and e-money is to be lowered. Previously, the threshold was a maximum of 250 euros. AMLD5 requires this threshold to be lowered further to 150 euros.

What are the Key Changes in the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive?

Following the spirit to become AML leaders in the world and to stop money laundering across Europe, the European Commission requires member states to implement these changes in national laws by January 20th, 2020. And as the deadline imposed by the EU ends almost in a month, let us have a deep dive into how it will impact the AML regulations landscape for businesses across Europe.

How will AMLD5 impact Anti Money Laundering Regulation Regime?

Virtual Currency Service Providers in Scope

Since the virtual currency is the talk of the town for a while now and regulators are finding ways to regulate decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins, AMLD5 will apply to virtual currency service providers as well as electronic wallet providers, to cover the risks associated with cryptocurrencies. In addition to this, the traders of artwork and entities rendering tax-related services are also in the scope of AMLD5 regulations.

Enhanced KYC including access to Beneficial Ownership Information

The business across Europe are obliged to consult related registers while performing KYC. However, for now, it is only applicable to the businesses registered and operating under the European Union.

Public Access to Beneficial Ownership Information

AMLD4 required the member states to maintain central registers for beneficial ownership information and required interested parties to demonstrate legitimate access to beneficial ownership registers. Under the AMLD5, this information is to be made publicly available except for trusts and similar legal arrangments. 

In such cases, legal information about beneficial ownership will be granted to anyone demonstrating a legitimate interest. The beneficial ownership information will be comprised of; the name of the beneficial owner, date of birth, nationality, country of residence, and the extent of the beneficial interest held in that particular business.

Access to Information on Real Estate Holders

Money Laundering through real estate is estimated to reach $1.6 trillion a year. Owing to this, the AMLD5 makes information on real estate holders, available to the public authorities. This does not require to maintain a central register for the information.

Lower Prepaid Card and E-Money Threshold

Prepaid cards are being used in money laundering across the globe. According to the FBI, drug cartels utilize prepaid cards to launder illegally earned money from drug sales across the United States. For identifying prepaid cardholders, AMLD5 lowered the threshold of prepaid cards from 250 euros to 150 euros. Furthermore, E-money transactions using prepaid cards are lowered to 50 euros. 

No member state is allowed to increase this amount, however, these amounts can be lowered further. AMLD5 not only lowers this amount but also includes strict restrictions on anonymous prepaid cards issued in non-member countries.

Regulations for Bank Accounts and Safe Deposit Box

One of the stricter regulations in AMLD5 is the abolishment of the anonymity of bank accounts, saving accounts, and safe deposit boxes. Member states are obliged to design central registries or data retrieval systems by September 10, 2020, which will be directly accessible by the Financial Intelligence Units and competent national authorities.

Once the directive is transformed into legislation, the financial institutions will require to build or render digital KYC services for the onboarding process and it is important for the financial institutes to attain clear guidance on this directive and formulate strategies accordingly.    

Money Laundering Crackdown on UK Law Firms

Money Laundering Crackdown on UK Law Firms

The regulators at Solicitor Regulators Authority (SRA) asked 400 law firms earlier this year to prove they are compliant with the current money laundering regulations by sending their firm risk assessment. Although all the firms reported, their statistics were alarming. 21% (83) of the firms were not compliant. They either didn’t approach all risk areas required (43) or they sent back something different than a firm risk assessment (40). 

According to the report, the majority of firms, about 64%, were using risk assessment templates which were of lower quality generally. Although these lower quality templates were helpful, the report said that too many firms adopted a “copy and paste” method without taking the specific risks and issues faced by their firm into consideration. 

The regulators also mentioned that over a third of the risk assessments (135) was recently recorded. This could mean that some firms may not have an actual risk assessment program and they only created one in response to the request of the SRA. 

Paul Philip, the Chief Executive of SRA mentioned the implications of money laundering saying that money laundering endorses criminal activity such as terrorism, human trafficking, drug smuggling, etc. Money laundering does incomprehensible damage to society and every solicitor should be entirely committed against its prevention. 

He continued, A call from us should not be the prompt for a firm to get their act together. You need to take immediate action now if you are not on top of your money laundering risks. Where we have serious concerns, we will take strong action.”

In light of these findings, the SRA said it would shortly be asking the 7000 firms that come under the reach of the Money Laundering Regulations to verify they have a robust risk assessment in place. 

Subsequently, figures published in the SRA’s annual Risk Outlook, published on October 29, 2019, show that 172 investigations have been launched all related to anti-money laundering compliance so far this year. Over the past five years, SRA has taken more than 60 cases of anti-money laundering compliance, to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT). This resulted in the suspension or disbarment of more than 40 solicitors. 

The regulator has warned that stricter actions will be taken if the law firms do not take proper actions for anti-money laundering compliance. 

esa aml compliance

AML Compliance in EU Member States and Risks of Businesses

Making regulations is just the first step, the true game starts when it comes to implementation, the European Supervisory Authorities report gave this clear message. 

European Union regulatory authorities are always in a wake to improve Anti Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financial Terrorism (CFT) regulations. Currently, the fourth AML directive is in action in the member states of the EU. Europen Union Supervisory Authorities (ESAs) recently gave a joint opinion based on the AML and CFT data collected from the member countries and expressed their concerns regarding the CFT and AML compliance in the reporting entities. 

The member countries are required to give this joint opinion on money laundering and terrorist financing risks in the EU financial sector every two years based on Article 6(5) of (EU) 2015/849 (the 4th AML directive). The ESAs (EBA, EIOPA, ESMA) report showed concerns regarding monitoring transactions and suspicious transaction reporting, cryptocurrencies, Brexit, and the risks associated with operations of businesses that handle a large number of financial transactions. 

Major Concerns of ESAs

The ESAs expressed some major concerns regarding the risks lurking in the financial infrastructure of EU countries. The detailed report contained the data proof of how credit institutions are exposed to more risk as compared to previous years. 

Inconsistent implementation of 4th AML directive

 

The uniform implementation of the 4th AML directive is a challenge as the legislations in a country are influenced by several stakeholders. The report of Joint Supervisory Authorities (JSA) highlighted that political and regulatory entities in the countries influence the implementation of the EU AML and CFT regulations. The countries often don’t understand the regulations properly and there is a lack of uniformity in the regulations across the EU so it leaves a loophole for the companies that plan to do illegal business. For example, if one country is rigid in AML and CFT compliance then the businesses or the criminals move to other countries with relatively lenient regulatory compliance requirements. So, it affects the effectiveness of AML and CFT regulations. 

Brexit

 

The United Kingdom is all set to leave the European Union in some time. The report of the ESAs identified that the firms working in the EU will be affected by this change in the EU landscape. The firms listed in the UK will have to update their operations as per the new UK regulations. Also, the firms outside the UK will have to get themselves registered with the UK as per the new regulations. 

This huge change in the infrastructure will affect the regulatory landscape of the EU. Most probably it will make loopholes for financial criminals. The UK was used by the shell companies in the past, and now this sudden shift in regulations will definitely take some time, so, the criminals are most likely to gain over this delay. 

Nicola Gratteri a public prosecutor in Calabria predicted that Brexit might aid the Italian mafia in pooling in their illegal money to the UK. Shell companies will be the safe haven of criminals to legitimize their cash proceeds from drug dealing, human trafficking, etc. 

Regtech and Fintech

 

Technology is a freeware that is used equally for fraud and fraud prevention. The advent of Fintech and Regtech definitely improved the operations in the financial sector but it also increased the risk. Lack of regulations and minor regulatory compliance in this sector is the source of risk. Fintech and Regtech are widely adopted by people and are very dear to legitimate users due to the ease created due to these solutions. 

Lack of legal and regulatory understanding among the Fintech and Regtech businesses is a point of concern. The businesses that don’t practice are more likely to fall prey to identity thieves and criminals. The in-depth understanding of regulations and regulatory compliance by Regtech solutions is vital to deliver quality risk prevention, so the businesses should be careful while choosing one such solution. 

Cryptocurrencies

 

Cryptocurrencies are major concerns of the JSAs. Although the AMLD5 and AMLD6 are drafted to address this risk. Lack of regulatory awareness and commitment in the cryptocurrency ecosystem are some major concerns expressed in the report. The EU is also planning to increase the scope of “virtual currencies” to “virtual assets” as per the FATF regulations. This is because there is a lack of awareness among the businesses offering the cryptocurrency services. 

Internal control

 

The internal controls of businesses are found to be lacking in their internal controls. Some major issues were found are Customer Due Diligence (CDD), lack or suspicious transaction reporting, lack of transaction monitoring, etc. 

Lack of effective compliance 

 

The businesses in the EU countries are found to be lacking in AML and CFT compliance, the report stated that sanctions screening is not enough. The businesses have to keep an eye on the transactions of their customers as well. Complete reliance on CDD is the loophole in the internal controls of firms. 

Also, businesses are required to practice compliance in a smart manner. In case they completely disown the customers based on the high risk associated with them, it will increase the chances of money laundering in the EU. 

Credit Institutions

 

The report highlighted that some credit institutions are exposed to major risks due to their business operations. Financial transactions as the key part of their operation so the risk of being exploited by money launderer sand terrorist financiers is high. The businesses are required to practice proactive fraud prevention and CDD. 

To wrap up, the businesses in the EU and outside the EU will be affected by the increased pressure on AML and CFT compliance among the member countries. The businesses from non-member countries will also be affected by this. The EU has also recommended the reporting entities to practice the EU regulations outside the region (Non-EEA states). The Brexit is also expected to happen in the near future so it will also affect the operations, regulatory compliance of the global businesses. Proactive fraud prevention, thorough regulatory compliance, and timely decisions will help businesses in achieving high returns in the future.

EU Contemplates New

EU Contemplates New Anti-Money Laundering Body in the Wake of Scandals

Brussels plans to pursue the strengthening of powers of the EU agencies to combat money laundering and mitigate terrorist financing following a series of high profile scandals. These scandals have given insight into Europe’s insufficiencies in addressing criminal cross-border cash flow. 

The EU is working on proposals that would enable the European Banking Authority, the EU’s banking regulator, to acquire increased enhancement powers and more resources. According to senior officials, this would help the authority to better investigate the proceedings of banks involved in illegal financing. 

In other plans, the commission wants to empower the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), a newly established pan-EU agency, to launch inquiries into the terrorist financing activity across it member states from 2025. 

Both of the initiatives are still being finalized and are most likely to be highlighted in EU’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker’s annual “State of the Union” speech on Wednesday. These initiatives are due to be officially announced the following week.  

The push to strengthen pan-EU anti-money laundering (AML) powers comes after a major disclosure. As much as $30 billion of former-Soviet and Russian money circulated through the Estonian branch of a Danish bank, Danske, in a single year. 

Earlier this month, the Dutch bank, ING, was also fined €775 million as the penalty for failing to properly enforce anti-money laundering regulations. 

These cases are some of the most recent in a series of scandals unfolding the ways criminals exploit weak and insecure links in Europe’s banking system to launder large amounts of cash. A Latvian bank, ABLV, was also wound up by regulators this year after accusations of “institutionalized money laundering” by US authorities. These accusations even included helping finance North Korea’s nuclear program. 

European Central Bank directly supervises most of the EU’s largest banks but keeping tabs on AML regulations is not covered by that system. Instead, the obligation for ensuring that banks carry out proper customer background checks and other AML regulations as required by EU law still lies largely with national watchdogs. The recent scandals have made the enforcement of these regulations a top priority.

Mastercards Excessive Chargeback Program

Mastercard’s EFM Compliance – Another Reason to Invest in Verification

The modern world is an era of technology. Moving into the fourth industrial revolution, digitization of organizations is gaining grounds in the marketplace. The industries are rapidly adopting the latest technology to secure their place in the competitive market. The identity thieves and fraudsters have set their new targets, i.e. online business. Using advanced technological tactics and sophisticated tools, they are actively exploiting the business and consumers.

The primary purpose of all the thieves and fraudsters is to gain a monetary advantage, no matter what type of fraud it is. Living in the 21st century, traditional payments are moving towards the elimination of cash. The trend of online transactions and mobile payments is on the rise and fraudsters, are not going to miss the opportunity to compromise the transactions. Over the past few years, card fraud has become one of the fastest-growing and challenging frauds for businesses and organizations. 

The organizations accepting card payments are constantly under threat of fraudsters and cybercriminals. This means they are exposed to chargeback losses, customer churns, brand damage and other financial impacts of the digital frauds. Moreover, the strict KYC and AML regulations on businesses dealing with money demand an effective verification solution that can fulfill the regulatory requirements.

What’s new?

Taking into account the increased card frauds, the businesses don’t have to tackle fraud to protect themselves but it is their responsibility to protect the respective card networks as well. This is the reason why the service providers have their own monitoring policies and programs imposed on the merchants and businesses. It helps the merchants to drive improvement in their fraud prevention strategies and tools.

Mastercard’s new fraud monitoring program is set to be implemented from October 2019 to all the merchants in the US. With the execution of this program, the businesses will need to invest in the verification and authentication services to curb chargebacks and prevent themselves from hefty fines.

Mastercard’s Excessive Chargeback Program:

 

Considering the rising trend of chargebacks, MasterCard has launched an Excessive chargeback program to carefully scrutinize each merchant’s chargeback activities. In this program, with the predetermined chargeback thresholds, the acquirers can effectively evaluate and predict chargeback risk associated with a merchant. Monitoring these chargebacks rates, the acquirers can take action when a merchant exceeds or is expected to exceed the predefined acceptable threshold.

Mastercard chargeback thresholds are determined on the basis of the chargeback-to-transaction This ratio is calculated by dividing the current month’s first chargebacks amount by the total number of transactions in the previous month. 

Excessive Fraud Merchant (EFM) Compliance Program:

 

Recently landed in October 2019, MasterCard’s new Excessive Fraud Merchant (EFM) compliance program is applicable to all the merchants in US businesses. This program is applicable to every merchant who meets or exceeds the pre-defined thresholds for following short-list of criteria:

  • The minimum number of e-commerce Mastercard Payments must be 1,000
  • The net fraud volume per month is greater than $50,000
  • A fraud-count-to-transaction ratio (FCTR) that is greater than 0.50% 
  • Total 3D Secure (3DS) Mastercard transactions that amount to less than 10% of total Mastercard payment volume 

In addition to the chargeback threshold, in the EFM program, MasterCard predefines the fraud threshold. The failure of merchants to meet this predetermined threshold level can result in fines and deactivation of the card service as well. The net fraud volume is calculated according to the following chargeback codes:

  • 4871: Chip/PIN Liability Shift 
  • 4870: Chip Liability Shift 
  • 4863: Cardholder does not Recognize – Potential Fraud 
  • 4840: Fraudulent Processing of Transactions 
  • 4837: No Cardholder Authorization 

The fines will begin to imposed from March 2020. These fines will be applicable to any merchant remaining the EMF programs for two or more executive months, eventually varying the fine charges. For instance, after being in the program for two months, the fine will start at $500 rising to $1000 for three months, $5000 for 4-6 months and $25,000 for 7-11 months.

What does it mean for Merchants?

 

Disputes and fraudulent payments are unfortunate aspects of online payments. The best way to manage them is to prevent them from happening by integrating an effective fraud prevention strategy. With the new Mastercard’s fraud prevention programs, the merchants need to invest in payment verification and authentication solutions in order to avoid remaining in the EFM program.

The fraudsters and scammers are using advanced tactics and automated tools to stay anonymous and spoof authentication checks and filters to carryout fraudulent payments using stolen identities and customers’ credentials. Merchants must need to respond in kind to prevent them from exploiting the business. It can be done by adopting an AI-powered identification solution. Shufti Pro’s verification solution uses multiple verification and authentication services that are best suited for online businesses. 

Preventing Fraudulent Payments

 

A payment is considered fraudulent in a case when the cardholder or accountholder doesn’t authorize it. The fraudulent payments are often made using stolen cards and card numbers – card not present frauds. Sometimes, through account takeover, fraudulent purchases are also made. By the time the cardholders review their card statement or get notified about the payments, the transactions have already been made. As a result, they contact their card issuers and claim a chargeback and ask them to dispute it.

Collect information – Verify Payments

 

Insufficient and vague information provided by the customers at the time of checkout is one of the major reasons why businesses fail to identify if the customer is legitimate or not. Just because someone successfully logged in to the account doesn’t guarantee that the transaction is done by an authorized entity. The businesses need to integrate authentication checks at the time of checkout to verify the identity of the authorized customers.

For instance, integrating Shufti Pro’s Consent verification in the e-commerce platforms requires a video consent from customers holding the identity card or credit card. With the hybrid approach of AI and HI technology, the authorized users are verified at the time of checkout. If the authentication is failed, the payment won’t be approved. The identity verification services provided by Shufti Pro combat intruders while keeping any customer burden and losses to a minimum. 

 

Global AML Regimes Tightening Reins on Money Launderers

Global AML Regimes – Tightening Reins on Money Launderers

Money laundering is a global menace. Money laundering and terrorist financing are the major targets of global regulatory authorities like FATF, FCA, FINTRAC, FINMA, etc. Many countries like the UK, USA, and Canada are becoming more rigid in developing and implementing AML regulations on their reporting entities. It motivated businesses around the globe to invest more in advanced AML solutions to avoid any non-compliance penalties. 

Money laundering is a global crisis so, AML regimes are becoming global, through international businesses. As per the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime estimates, the annual money laundering amount is 2% to 5% of global GDP. 

The loss does stop here but extends to the penalties that global financial institutions pay due to non-compliance. For instance, take the case of Swedbank and Danske bank that paid millions of dollars in penalties due to money laundering practiced in their Estonian branches. 

Both the banks were ignorant of their AML compliance and suffered huge losses due to these cases. The scandal wiped €7 billion off Swedbank’s market value and took a toll over its credit rating. As for Danske bank, it closed its Estonia branch as per the regulatory requirement. 

These shocking revelations affected the AML regulations, regulatory authorities are even more rigid towards AML compliance. Also, the financial institutions and businesses are paying more heed towards AML compliance due to rapid changes in global AML regimes.

Dutch Banks Joining Forces Against Money Launderers

Dutch banks have been exploited several times by the money launderers in the previous years. The largest Dutch bank paid $858 million to settle an investigation last year. It was the largest fine in Dutch corporate history. 

In order to mitigate the risk of further damage, five Dutch banks are exploring joint monitoring of transactions. The banks are aware of the technical and regulatory roadblocks that will hinder this collaboration because confidential data of clients will be shared among the collaborating banks. 

A group of Nordic banks, including Danske bank, are planning to establish a joint venture to develop a platform for handling due-diligence data of their customers. Also, they are working on developing complex algorithms to identify illegal fund transfers. 

The USA Expanding its Counter-Terrorism Powers to Hinder Terrorist Financing

The USA is also expanding its counter-terrorism powers to fight terrorist groups and money launderers. The Wall Street Journal, 11th Sept 2019, reported that Trump administration is expanding its counter-terrorism powers to a global level. The USA will target the international financial institutions that will assist the U.S.-designated terrorist groups and their affiliates. Also, it imposed sanctions on several individuals and entities involved in terrorist groups. 

In its wake to improve security in the state, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on three Korean groups namely, Lazarus Group, Bluenoroff, and Andriel involved primarily in global cyberattacks on financial institutions and ransomware attacks. It is found that these groups are directly controlled by North Korea’s primary intelligence bureau, RGB. These measures are taken to reduce money laundering and terrorist financing in the USA. 

The UK MLA-2017 Amendments of 2019

The UK announced new regulations in AML group-wide policies of the Money Laundering Act (MLA-2017). These new regulations will be in action from 3 Sept. 2019 and will extend the scope of EU regulations to other states. The reporting entities will have to extend necessary EU AML practices to non-EEA states where they have local entities. 

The businesses are entitled to review the regulatory framework of AML/CFT regulations in other states. In case they are facing any hindrance from the authorities in other countries they must report to the FCA(Financial Services Authority) within 28 calendar days of the concerned country. 

If there are restrictions in practicing EU AML regulations in non-EEA states the businesses must take additional measures to mitigate the risk. In case additional measures are not fruitful the businesses are directed to terminate some or all of their operations in that country to mitigate the risk. These new regulations will change the overall AML compliance practices of the businesses.  

Canada – Amendments in PCMLTFA

The Canadian government amended the regulations of the Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Report Analysis Center) will implement new AML regulations. 

The major amendment in AML regulations is that the reporting entities are allowed to accept photocopies or scanned copies of identity documents for verification of the clients. In the past, only physical documents were allowed for verification of clients. 

Now the financial institutions and businesses can use identity and document verification software for due diligence. It will enhance the accuracy of their AML compliance practices. Also, online verification is less costly and time-efficient. 

The new Canadian regulations are designed to align the AML regulations of Canada with global AML regulations of FATF (Financial Action Task Force). Money Services Businesses (MSBs) are included in the Reporting entities (RE) list. 

The MSBs will have to follow the same AML regulations of due diligence, recording, and reporting just like the typical financial institutions. Financial institutions will not be allowed to conduct business with unregulated MSBs. The MSBs will have to run in-depth identity verification on all their clients. 

Virtual currency businesses will be registered just as MSBs and will have to follow rigid AML regulations. They are directed to report any cryptocurrency transaction above minimum transaction threshold of $10,000. 

The reporting time for MSBs and virtual currency businesses is also reduced to 3 days from 30 days, which is the global criteria.  

What Businesses Need to do About These Changes?

Global businesses will be affected by these changes. The businesses will have to rethink their AML practices. As most of the AML regimes require the verification of global clients so it is necessary to use feasible solutions for frictionless compliance. Manual compliance could only be helpful when the clients are local. 

Real-time AML compliance solutions will help financial institutions to mitigate the risk coming from international clients especially when the clients are from high-risk countries. Its high time to make smart decisions to stay one step ahead of fraudsters in the future. 

Impact of Canada Evolving AML Regimes on Your Business

Impact of Canada’s Evolving AML Regimes on Your Business

Canada’s AML regulations changed a lot in 2019. More rigid AML regulations are imposed on all types of businesses to reduce money laundering and terrorist financing in Canada. These new regulations will enhance the due diligence practices of companies as digital customer onboarding is allowed to the businesses. 

The government of Canada amended the regulations of Proceeds of Crime Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Act (PCMLTFA). FINTRAC (Financial Transactions and Report Analysis Center) will be implementing the new AML regulations

FINTRAC is an independent federal body in Canada that is responsible for collecting and analyzing the information to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorist financing in Canada. 

The new Regulations are designed to align the Anti Money Laundering (AML) and terrorist financing regulations with the international regulations of FATF (Financial Action Task Force). 

The amendments were introduced in June 2019 after the analysis of the 2016 report by FATF. The report stated that Canada has been the hub of money laundering, real estate, and other industries that are used to launder money to and from Canada. 

Not only that the Mauren Maloney’s report on moany laundering in Canada also highlighted that money laundering is not limited to a few states of Canada. The report estimated that a total of $46.7 billion were laundered through Canada’s economy last year. While British Columbia was responsible for roughly $7.4 billion. 

Based on such shocking facts, Canadian regulatory bodies are keen to control money laundering in Canada, as it is expected that these revelations might be the tip of an iceberg. The latest amendments are designed to bridge the loopholes in digital financial operations and to regulate the unregulated domestic and international entities. 

Key initiatives proposed by the new regulations are as follows:

Digital KYC is possible

Reporting Entities (REs) will be allowed to accept photocopies or scanned copies of identity documents for performing due diligence. In the past, physical documents were required for identity verification of the customers. Customers were required to visit brick and mortar outlets of banks and other financial institutions to register. 

Now that scanned copies of documents are also considered legal, businesses can utilize digital customer onboarding software to onboard clients fastly. Clients can be verified online within a few minutes. It will reduce the hassle of manual customer verification software. This new amendment will improve the customer value of banks and will prevent risk as online identity verification & AML software provide high precision in results. 

Regulation of Money Services Businesses (MSBs)

Money Services Businesses that provided online services are the loophole, exploited by money launderers and terrorist financiers. The latest amendments have addressed this security concern. 

Domestic as well as foreign MSBs will have to follow the same due diligence, recording and reporting regulations. The new regulations will enable FINTRAC to levy administrative monetary penalties on foreign MSBs and will lead to cancellation of their FINTRAC registration if not paid. 

Also, financial institutions within Canada will not be allowed to do business with unregistered MSBs. So, it will tighten the reigns on money launderers and will help financial regulatory authorities to improve the credibility of Canada among other states.

The international MSB’s dealing in Canada will need to run Identity verification on their clients to fulfill the regulations otherwise FINTRAC holds the right to charge financial penalties. 

Virtual Currency Businesses

Virtual currency businesses will be added to PCMLTFA regulations. Virtual currency exchanges and value transfer services would be regulated as MSBs. They will be liable for AML, reporting and record-keeping regulations as well. Also, the virtual currency businesses will have to report any transaction above $10,000. 

Prepaid Access Products will be added to the REs (Reporting Entities) that offer bank accounts. The Prepaid access products providers will have to verify the identity of clients, keep records and report suspicious transactions. All the rules that apply to REs that offer bank accounts will be applied to prepaid access products. 

AML Reporting standards

Previously the financial sector was obliged to report suspicious transactions within 30 days. Now FINTRAC aims at aligning its regulations with international regulations of FATF, reporting must be practiced within 3 days of a suspicious transaction. 

What businesses need to do about these amendments?

With changes in PCMLTFA regulations, businesses will have to change their AML compliance practices aswell. Digital KYC and AML solutions will help them in complete compliance as international MSBs working in Canada will also be required to perform AML on their clients. 

Internet-based businesses especially the virtual currency businesses will have to follow the international due diligence, recording and reporting regulations. All these regulations will not only impact the AML compliance practices of businesses and financial institutions but will enhance their risk cover against money launderers and terrorist financiers. 

Digital KYC and AML software are feasible solutions to keep up with new AML regulations. It provides high precision results within a minute. And runs continuous checks on high-risk clients, reducing the compliance hassle of banks and businesses.