UK Gang Fraud Scheme, Swedbank & US Sanctions – The Weekly Round-Up

By April 5, 2019 December 30th, 2019 No Comments

Head of Financial Crime, Livia Benisty shares her financial crime highlights from the week that’s past.

Step aside Brexit, a new drama is in town

The Sunday Times released the results of an investigation into a fraud scheme worth £8billion conducted by a UK gang which sent some of its gains to al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. HMRC started conducting investigations up to 24 years ago, however, the paper states that “For years HMRC and other agencies did little to disrupt it and took almost no formal enforcement action”. Reporting restrictions on the case still exist!

The story reads like the plot for the next series of Homeland, and is well worth a read. Find the links here to the investigation results and additional commentary.  

Swedbank Scandal Still Simmering

Sweden’s Financial Authority has said it will not pursue criminal proceedings against the bank for money laundering given “the alleged crime took place prior to tighter due diligence laws imposed in 2014 and after a five-year statute of limitations had expired”. Those that read the special edition of my weekly roundup on the topic or the internal (redacted) report will note that this isn’t completely in line with those findings; so I am still a bit puzzled and will continue to keep an eye on the scandal. The bank is still being investigated for insider trading though after accusations that they warned their largest shareholders of the impending allegations by Swedish Broadcaster SVT prior to the programme being aired. Find out more here.

US Sanction Slaps Still Sting?

Sanctions policy in the US is a bit all over the place at the moment. This is best highlighted by Trump tweeting about withdrawing recently imposed sanctions on North Korea, sending his administration into a backpedaling tailspin. As the US also talks about imposing sanctions on companies from other countries that continue to do business with key Venezuelan entities, and other companies continue to negotiate with the US over Iranian restrictions, I’ve noticed the ongoing debate as to what effect sanctions actually have.

Reports of measures taken by Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela to evade sanctions would appear to indicate that restrictions were biting, but this piece by David S. Cohen (former Deputy Director of the CIA and former Undersecretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence) takes a different view. Have a read and let me know what you think.


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