Global Threat Assessment
by John Cusack
Despite the limitations presented in estimating criminal activity designed to be hidden, the results in the Global Threat Assessment present a bleak picture.
Criminal markets are generating more illicit funds than at any other time in our history, with ever more harmful effects inflicted against every Country, against billions of people and against our increasingly fragile environment.
We are witnessing the transformation of organised crime into very big business, leveraging networks to connect criminal actors, adopting poly criminality, embracing new cyber tools and opportunities afforded by the transformation to digital.
How big, which Countries, by what Methods and by which Gangs, is summarised in this Global Threat Assessment, using over 100 publicly available studies or reports from credible sources, together with personal observations and recommendations from the author.
Following the EU Commission’s proposed changes to its list of 3rd countries whose money laundering deficiencies pose a significant threat to the financial system of the EU published in early May, 2020, the results, can be criticised. For example see previous post here. The results suggest the EU list is based on a flawed methodology that overweights the response and underweights the threat. The result of the EU exercise is to add 12 new countries and remove 6.
Since the publication of the revised EU list, Financial Crime News have concluded “deep dives” on both a country removed from the list, “Ethiopia” and a country added to the list “Mauritius” and compared the two from a financial crime perspective and against 38 other Sub Saharan African Countries.
In this interview with Wendy Ennis, FCC Head at new virtual Bank “Mox” in Hong Kong, Financial Crime News wanted to hear about Wendy’s journey from an established large Bank and team to a new startup and virtual Bank, the opportunities challenges and the experience along the way.
Q1 What is Mox?
Mox is the Hong Kong virtual bank backed by Standard Chartered, in partnership with HKT, PCCW and Trip.com. We have the combined power of a well-trusted international banking group, Hong Kong’s telecom and lifestyle market leader and Asia’s largest online travel agency. Our aim is to deliver a suite of retail financial services as well as lifestyle benefits all in one place, growing your money, your world and your possibilities.
According to the best available sources the illegal Wildlife Trade is valued at approx US$7 – 23 billion a year, and is regularly described as the 4th most lucrative crime after any of drugs, counterfeit goods, humans and arms, with Africa the main area of concern, in particular due to the killing of Rhinos, Elephants and Pangolins, by criminal gangs that move horns, tusks and scales shipping these clandestinely onto markets in Asia.
That the illegal wildlife trade is in the billions of dollars a year and includes iconic African mammals such as Rhino’s, Elephants and Pangolin’s is not in question, and neither are the claims that criminal actors are involved and that Asia is a main destination.
Whilst this picture is a popular one, in which the illegal wildlife trade is most often portrayed, by digging a little deeper the picture becomes a little less about Africa and Asia, and involves all regions, including North America and Western Europe, and a little less about iconic African Mammals and includes reptiles, birds, fish, plants and shells.
In November, 2019, Standard Chartered Bank announced that it had joined forces with Quantexa to boost further their approach to fighting financial crime. In this conversation with SCB’s Head of Financial Crime Strategy & Innovation, Praveen Jain, and Quantexa’s CEO Vishal Marria, Financial Crime News probes deeper into the “why”, the “what” and the “how” to provide insights into an “industry first” and why it’s important.
FCN: What was the problem and what was the solution?
PJ: SCB was looking for a best in class solution to support its more than a thousand investigators in its hubs as well as in its Global Financial Intelligence Unit conducting complex financial investigations generated from processing over a billion transactions a year.
In this interview with Daniel Thelesklaf, he discusses his distinguished career fighting financial crime, from having worked in the private sector, at an FIU, in supervision, development assistance, and sanctions enforcement, as well as his new role as Head of Switzerland’s Financial Intelligence Unit, MROS (the Money Laundering Reporting Office, Switzerland).
Daniel Thelesklaf Interview
FCN: Q1 – You led Liechtenstein’s FIU since 2012, until just a few months ago – what were the highlights?
DT: A short time after I took over in 2012, I became the national coordinator for the mutual evaluation process, led by the IMF and Moneyval.
No-one can dispute the existence of large criminal markets generating huge profits for those involved, but which Criminal markets are the largest, which are the fastest growing and which markets are emerging?
Which Countries generate the most in Criminal proceeds and which Countries are likeliest to launder most, from domestic and foreign financial crime proceeds.
Which money laundering methods are the most popular, and which groups benefit the most?
In this Report, estimates are provided to answer all of these questions and more
Preface to GTA by Sir Iain Lobban
“I came across the following description of Intelligence recently: “Intelligence is the ability to unravel knowledge, but it is also the knowledge itself.” I might go further and say that unless intelligence is actionable, it does not deserve that label. And this is one thing that a keen reader might take away from the Global Threat Assessment-“
“This is a highly impressive compendium of information from multiple sources, harvesting a wide range of studies by reputable authorities, generating a comprehensive view of the threats and trends, of the potential scale and ingenious variety of financial crime around the world today.
In this Interview with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s Stewart McGlynn, who leads the Regulators Anti Money Laundering Team, Financial Crime News wanted to know more about HK, the risks and threats, de risking, the recent FATF Report, follow up actions, Regtech, PPP and much more besides. The interview reveals that HK has achieved a lot but also has plans to do more, much of which is exciting and offers the prospects for increased efficiency and effectiveness in fighting financial crime.
FCN: HK is one of the largest and most respected international financial and trading centres, but what attributes do you think are necessary to build and maintain this reputation?
SM: There are several key attributes which overlap to some degree and which can be related directly to anti-money laundering work.
Illegal Fishing represents one of the largest markets open to and exploited by organised criminal groups, but beyond overfishing and the environmental challenges this brings, other serious crimes are also involved, including drugs and human trafficking, corruption and tax evasion, particularly effecting developing Countries. its time Illegal fishing was considered as a major financial crime issue as well as an environmental one. For more read the Intelligence Briefing on IUU Fishing by FCN.
With fish and other aquatic animals an important part of many peoples diet, it’s estimated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, that we catch approximately 171 million metric tons (likely more than 2 trillion fish) annually (2016) worth an estimated USD362 billion.