Included in this issue: Cabinet Office review of financial crime agencies; French Authorities join Airbus probe; HM Treasury announces plans to establish new anti-money laundering watchdog; and more...
Cabinet Office review of financial crime agencies
The Cabinet Office has signalled that it is conducting a wide ranging review into the UK agencies that combat economic crime. Several agencies come within the review, including the Serious Fraud Office, the National Crime Agency, HM Revenue & Customs, the Financial Conduct Authority and the Competition and Markets Authority. The review has, in particular, sparked fresh fears regarding the future of the Serious Fraud Office.
The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, described the Cabinet Office review as providing a "look at the UK's response to economic crime more broadly" and that it will be "looking at the effectiveness of our organisational framework and the capabilities, resources and powers available to the organisations that tackle economic crime."
UK signs Memorandum of Understanding with Panama to combat serious and organised crime
The Security Minister, Ben Wallace, met with his Panamanian counterpart Jonattan Del Rosario to sign an agreement under which the two nations shall co-operate to tackle serious and organised crime. The agreement shows a commitment by the UK and Panama to information sharing and adopting best practice on areas including money laundering and intelligence collection.
Europol publishes Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessment (SOCTA) 2017
The SOCTA 2017 provides detailed analysis on serious threats of organised crime faced by the EU. Europol's analysis is based on the largest data collection exercise on serious and organised crime in Europe to date. The focus of the 2017 edition (headed: Crime in the age of technology) is on the ways in which criminals harness new technologies to perpetrate their criminal activities. The report assesses the ways in which technologies are deployed to carry out crimes involving (inter alia) money laundering, fraud and terrorism.
Acting Assistant Attorney General announces continuation of "Pilot Program" during assessment period
On 10 March 2017, Acting Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Blanco, speaking at the American Bar Association National Institute on White Collar Crime, said that the DOJ Fraud Section's one year pilot program to encourage companies to self-report potential FCPA violations, due to end on 5 April 2017, will continue in full force past the end date. This continuation is whilst the DOJ evaluates the "utility and efficacy" of the program.
Bribery and Corruption
French Authorities join Airbus probe
French authorities have joined the UK authorities in opening a probe into Airbus Group SE. The probe is into allegations of fraudulent practices relating to selling planes and arranging aircraft financing. The decision by the Parquet National Financier follows the decision in August 2016 by the UK Serious Fraud Office to commence an investigation.
SK Group called for questioning in connection with South Korea's widening corruption scandal
Three officials who have ties with one of South Korea's largest conglomerates, SK Group, have been called for questioning following the corruption scandal which recently culminated in the dismissal of President Park Geun-hye. Already embroiled in the scandal is South Korea's largest conglomerate, The Samsung Group, with various charges including bribery and embezzlement at the fore.
There's been no indication as to how long the investigations are to last.
HM Treasury issues draft Money Laundering Regulations 2017 and consultation exercise on the draft Regulations
HM Treasury issued draft Money Laundering Regulations 2017, aimed at implementing the provision under the Fourth Money Laundering Directive. The consultation exercise follows from the previous consultation on the domestic implementation of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive which closed on 10 November 2016. This consultation seeks views on the provisions of the draft Regulations and will close on 12 April 2017.
HM Treasury announces plans to establish new anti-money laundering watchdog
The introduction of the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision (OPBAS) is part of the government's plans to combat the perceived weaknesses in the current supervisory system which terrorists and criminals may be exploiting. OPBAS is intended to complement the updated Money Laundering Regulations (published on 15 March 2017) as part of a broader strategy to align the UK's anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing with the international standard.
OPBAS will sit within the FCA but will perform its functions outside existing supervisory teams. The government anticipates that OPBAS shall be fully operational by the beginning of 2018.
HM Treasury issues advice on money laundering and terrorist financing for named countries
Following statements published by the Financial Action Task Force on 24 February 2017 in which jurisdictions with inadequate anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing regimes were identified, HM Treasury has advised that firms apply enhanced due diligence in relation to all transactions involving Iran or North Korea. The note also provides recommendations regarding appropriate measures which should be taken in relation to certain other jurisdictions, including the possible need for enhanced due diligence in high risk transactions or situations.
The note supersedes any prior advisory notes on the topic which have been issued by HM Treasury.
European Parliament issues a report on proposed amendments to the Fourth Money Laundering Directive
On 10 March 2017, the European Parliament issued its report on proposed amendments to the Fourth Money Laundering Directive (4MLD). The report sets out the proposed amendments to 4MLD, including provisions requiring Member States to hold central registers of bank account and PEP registers. The amendments also includes provisions relating to enhanced due diligence and further provisions relating to the scope of beneficial ownership registers.
Decisions to be made on Barclays Qatar case within a month
Reports suggest that the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) is reaching decisions on charges regarding individuals involved in the Barclays Qatar case. The SFO told a London court last year that it would reach a decision on charges by the end of March 2017 and current indications suggest that the SFO is on track to achieve this.
Record levels of identity fraud in 2016
Statistics collected from over 277 banks and business reveal that around 173,000 frauds were recorded in 2016. This is the highest level recorded since the data collection began 13 years ago. Over half of these recorded incidents were found to be identity frauds, the majority of which took place online. The data shows that young people are increasingly being targeted, with around 25,000 victims being under 30. The number of under 21s also increased between 2015 and 2016
Annual assessment of cyber threat to UK business published and presented at Cyber UK Conference
The National Crime Agency, National Cyber Security Centre and various industry partners have published a detailed report which warns that cyber threats to UK business are not only growing but also becoming more sophisticated and adaptable. It is reported that criminal groups imitating states have launched attacks on financial institutions and that other sophisticated actors have successfully committed attacks using "off the shelf" malware.
The report not only sets out the latest perceived cyber threats but also includes guidance as to what businesses can do to mitigate their risk exposure.
Cyber security experts advise about the increased risk of ransom ware attacks
The National Crime Agency and National Cyber Security Centre have warned about the increasing risk of ransom ware. It's been reported that devices such as smartphones, watches and televisions could be targeted and used to hold people ransom over their personal data. Whilst the data itself may not have an inherent value, the criminals are relying on users' desperation to retrieve their personal data.
Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) publishes consolidated list of targets
The OFSI, whose responsibilities include the implementation and administration of international financial sanctions within the UK, produced an updated list of asset freeze targets. The list of asset freeze targets is organised by regime and includes details relating to both natural persons and legal entities that are subject to those freezes.
Health and Safety
Kier Construction fined following worker's fall
Kier Construction have been fined after a worker fell from height from the third floor of a building at a construction site in Middlesex.
The worker suffered fractures to his pelvis and arms and has been unable to work since the incident.
Kier Construction Limited pleaded guilty to breaching section 4 (1) of the Work at Height Regulations 2005, were fined £400,000 and ordered to pay costs of £1,534.
Company fined after worker electrocuted whilst replacing traffic light pole
A worker has been electrocuted after coming into contact with a live underground cable whilst replacing a traffic light pole.
The man was asked to carry out works by Amey LG Limited and was the employee of another company. He touched the cable which gave him an electric shock and set him on fire. He received burns to his hands, arms, stomach, face, legs and chest and has not been able to return to work.
Amey LG Limited pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 25 (4) of the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015. The company was fined £600,000 and ordered to pay costs of £15,498.
Illegal waste site at operator fined over £66,000
The operator and landowner of an illegal waste site in an Essex village had to pay the fine after Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard that 14,700 tonnes of inert waste was stored on land behind a residential address north of Colchester, ‘grossly’ breaching a waste exemption and planning rules. Mrs Miriam Tordoff, prosecuting for the Environment Agency, told the court the waste had been deposited there over 2.5 years. Mrs Tordoff said only certain relatively low risk activities can be covered by an exemption which sets out conditions that must be met at all times. These include not risking human health nor the environment, not causing a nuisance with noise or odours and not adversely affecting the countryside or places of special interest. Between September 2012 and March 2015 the Agency received 34 complaints about activities at the site.