U.K. Donor Said to Have Funneled Russian Money to Tories

The cash was part of a fund-raising blitz that helped propel Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party to victory in 2019. Records track $630,225 to a Russian bank account.

#barclays-plc, #campaign-finance, #conservative-party-great-britain, #crimea-ukraine, #ehud-sheleg, #johnson-boris, #london-england, #money-laundering, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #sergei-kopytov

Ex-Goldman Sachs Banker Convicted for His Role in a $4 Billion Fraud

Roger Ng is most likely the only person who will face trial in the United States in connection with a scheme to fleece the loot billions from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund.

#1malaysia-development-berhad-1mdb, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #bribery-and-kickbacks, #embezzlement, #extortion-and-blackmail, #goldman-sachs-group-inc, #leissner-tim, #low-jho-1981, #malaysia, #money-laundering, #ng-roger

Ex-Party Producer Charged in $2.7 Million Bitcoin-Laundering Scheme

Thomas Spieker’s clients included dark-web drug dealers and a cellphone-hacking identity thief, prosecutors said.

#bitcoin-currency, #black-markets, #bragg-alvin, #cyberattacks-and-hackers, #manhattan-nyc, #money-laundering, #spieker-thomas, #virtual-currency

How Roman Abramovich Used Shell Companies and Wall Street Ties to Invest in the U.S.

Using a network of banks, law firms and advisers in multiple countries, Roman Abramovich invested billions in American hedge funds.

#abramovich-roman-a, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #chelsea-soccer-team, #concord-management-llc, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #foreign-investments, #globeop-financial-services-s-a, #hedge-funds, #high-net-worth-individuals, #money-laundering, #private-equity, #putin-vladimir-v, #united-states-politics-and-government

Justice Dept. Announces Task Force to Go After Russian Oligarchs

The task force adds to the raft of actions that Western leaders have taken in recent days in an effort to undercut Vladimir V. Putin and the politically connected elite in Russia.

#assets-frozen, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #garland-merrick-b, #justice-department, #monaco-lisa-o, #money-laundering, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #ukraine, #united-states-international-relations, #united-states-politics-and-government

U.K. Moves to Tighten Laws on Oligarchs. Critics Say It’s Too Late.

With most of the Western world uniting against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Britain is trying to plug loopholes for wealthy Russians to which it has long turned a blind eye.

#abramovich-roman-a, #conservative-party-great-britain, #corruption-institutional, #high-net-worth-individuals, #house-of-commons-great-britain, #house-of-lords-great-britain, #johnson-boris, #lebedev-evgeny, #money-laundering, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #transparency-international

Laundered Money Could Be Putin’s Achilles’ Heel

We can and should freeze oligarchs’ overseas assets.

#assets-frozen, #corruption-institutional, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #money-laundering, #putin-vladimir-v, #russia, #russian-invasion-of-ukraine-2022, #ukraine, #war-and-armed-conflicts

Vast Leak Exposes How Credit Suisse Served Strongmen and Spies

Leaked data on more than 18,000 accounts shows that the Swiss bank missed or ignored red flags.

#abdullah-ii-king-of-jordan, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #corruption-institutional, #credit-suisse-group-ag, #high-net-worth-individuals, #money-laundering, #mubarak-hosni, #mugabe-robert, #panama-papers, #pandora-papers, #paradise-papers, #suddeutsche-zeitung, #tax-evasion, #whistle-blowers

Ilya Lichtenstein Held in Bitcoin Case While Heather Morgan Is Given Bail

A judge appeared more concerned by the flight risk posed by Ilya Lichtenstein than by his wife, Heather Morgan, in a case accusing them of a sweeping scheme to launder stolen cryptocurrency.

#bail, #bitcoin-currency, #decisions-and-verdicts, #lichtenstein-ilya, #money-laundering, #morgan-heather-1990, #virtual-currency

$3.6 billion bitcoin seizure shows how hard it is to launder cryptocurrency

The IRS detailed the winding and tangled routes the couple allegedly took to launder a portion of the nearly 120,000 bitcoins stolen from the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex in 2016.

Enlarge / The IRS detailed the winding and tangled routes the couple allegedly took to launder a portion of the nearly 120,000 bitcoins stolen from the cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex in 2016. (credit: William Whitehurst | Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan were arrested in New York and accused of laundering a record $4.5 billion worth of stolen cryptocurrency. In the 24 hours immediately afterward, the cybersecurity world ruthlessly mocked their operational security screwups: Lichtenstein allegedly stored many of the private keys controlling those funds in a cloud-storage wallet that made them easy to seize, and Morgan flaunted her “self-made” wealth in a series of cringe-inducing rap videos on YouTube and Forbes columns.

But those gaffes have obscured the remarkable number of multi-layered technical measures that prosecutors say the couple did use to try to dead-end the trail for anyone following their money. Even more remarkable, perhaps, is that federal agents, led by IRS Criminal Investigations, managed to defeat those alleged attempts at financial anonymity on the way to recouping $3.6 billion of stolen cryptocurrency. In doing so, they demonstrated just how advanced cryptocurrency tracing has become—potentially even for coins once believed to be practically untraceable.

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#bitcoin, #biz-it, #cryptocurrency, #doj, #money-laundering, #policy

Justice Dept. Seizes $3.6 Billion in Bitcoin and Arrests Married Couple

The couple were accused of conspiring to launder Bitcoin that had been stolen in 2016 from Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, one of the world’s largest virtual currency exchanges.

#bitcoin-currency, #bitfinex, #currency, #cyberattacks-and-hackers, #hong-kong, #justice-department, #monaco-lisa-o, #money-laundering, #robberies-and-thefts, #virtual-currency

Ex-Panama President’s Sons Are Extradited to U.S. After Multicountry Chase

Two sons of the former president Ricardo Martinelli fled the United States by Uber, private jet and an “unknown vessel,” prosecutors said. The second has now been extradited, weeks after his brother.

#braskem-sa, #brazil, #el-salvador, #extradition, #guatemala, #guatemala-city-guatemala, #martinelli-ricardo, #money-laundering, #odebrecht-sa, #panama

Professor Cited as Corruption Expert Is Sentenced for Money Laundering

A former University of Miami international studies professor used bank accounts in his name and the name of a company he created to launder about $2.5 million, prosecutors said.

#bagley-bruce, #colleges-and-universities, #latin-america, #money-laundering, #university-of-miami, #venezuela

2 Ivory Smugglers Captured in International Operation, U.S. Says

The undercover joint operation by the U.S. and Congolese governments also resulted in the seizure of millions of dollars’ worth of illegal wildlife plunder.

#africa, #animals, #congo-democratic-republic-of-congo-kinshasa, #elephants, #endangered-and-extinct-species, #homeland-security-department, #ivory, #money-laundering, #pangolins, #rhinoceroses, #smuggling, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching

California Businessman Is Sentenced to 30 Years in $1 Billion Ponzi Scheme

Jeff Carpoff, 50, ran a Ponzi scheme with his wife that sold nonexistent solar generators to investors, prosecutors said.

#california, #frauds-and-swindling, #jeff-carpoff, #money-laundering, #paulette-carpoff, #ponzi-and-pyramid-schemes, #securities-and-commodities-violations, #securities-and-exchange-commission

The Pandora Papers Expose Britain’s Role in Money Laundering

Together with its territories overseas, Britain is instrumental in a global game of deceit.

#cayman-islands, #great-britain, #money-laundering, #pandora-papers, #tax-evasion, #tax-shelters, #virgin-islands-great-britain

Omi in a Hellcat, Prominent YouTuber, Is Charged in $30 million Fraud Scheme

A flamboyant YouTuber known as Omi in a Hellcat was charged with illegally selling copyrighted TV shows and movies through an online service, prosecutors said.

#automobiles, #comcast-corporation, #computers-and-the-internet, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #money-laundering, #new-jersey, #philadelphia-pa, #television, #video-recordings-downloads-and-streaming

PassFort, a RegTech SaaS for KYC and AML, nets $16.2M

London-based PassFort, a SaaS provider that helps business meet compliance requirements such as KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti-Money Laundering) reporting, has closed a $16.2 million Series A led by US growth equity fund, Level Equity.

The 2015-founded startup‘s existing investors OpenOcean, Episode 1 and Entrepreneur First also participated in the round. The Series A is a mix of equity and debt, with $4.89M worth of venture debt being provided by Shard Credit Partners.

PassFort tells TechCrunch it now has 54 customers in total, saying the majority are in the digital payments space. It’s also selling its SaaS to customers in foreign exchange, banking and (ofc) crypto. It also touts some “major” customer wins preceding this raise — name-checking the likes of Curve and WorldRemit.

The new funding will be put towards stepping up its growth globally — with PassFort noting it’s hired a new C-suite for its growth team to lead the planned global push.

It’s also hiring more staff in business development and marketing, and plans to significantly bump spending across marketing, sales and customer support roles as it gears up to scale up.

“On the product side we are developing the solution to meet the demands of the changing digital economy and the threats it faces,” says CEO and co-founder Donald Gillies. “This means investing heavily into our new compliance policy cloud, system-to-system integrations with market-leading CRM and transaction monitoring systems as well as building a data team capable of deriving valuable real-time insights across our customer network.”

PassFort says its revenues grew ~2.5x over the past 12 months.

Gillies credits COVID-19 with really hitting the digital “accelerator” and driving adoption for compliance tools, as fintechs and regulated businesses look to streamline their approach to customer on-boarding and risk monitoring.

Alongside this accelerated digital transformation, he also points to a rise in cyber crime and increasingly sophisticated financial crime driving demand for compliance tools, and a “huge” rise in the number of regulations announced since COVID-19, noting: “Estimates from those who track regulatory changes stated that by August 2020, more than 1,330 COVID-19 related regulatory announcements had been made globally by regulators.”

As well as serving up an “always-on picture of risk”, as PassFort’s marketing puts it, the platform offers a single place to access and manage customer profiles, while also centralizing records for audit purposes.

PassFort’s SaaS also tracks efficiency — supporting customers to see where holdups in the onboarding process might be, to help with customer experience as well as the wider support it offers to compliance teams.

The startup says its integration model is such that it can “ingest datasets from any provider and interoperate with any system”, so — for example — it has pre-built connectors to more than 25 data providers at this stage.

It also offers a single API to integrate with a customer’s existing back-office system.

Another feature of the SaaS it flags is a focus on “low to no-code” — to increase accessibility and help customers with high complexity in their compliance needs (such as multiple customer types, multiple product lines and multi-jurisdictions. This includes a smart policy builder with a ‘drag and drop’ interface to help customers configure complex workflows.

On the competitive side, PassFort names Dublin-based Fenergo as its closest competitor but says it’s targeting a broader market — likening its own product to ‘Salesforce for compliance teams’ and saying its goal is to get the SaaS into the hands of “every financial crime and compliance team in the world”.

Commenting in a statement, Charles Chen, partner at Level Equity — who’s now joining PassFort’s board of directors — added: “Over the last few years, financial institutions and organisations have experienced exponential growth in business volumes and data, which has only increased the complexity in staying compliant with ever-evolving regulatory laws. In parallel, we’ve experienced an unprecedented rise in sophisticated financial crime activity as channels into financial systems have been digitized.

“This has underscored the importance of compliance matters such as AML/KYC, yet companies often have to weigh the trade-offs between speed, compliance and automation. PassFort has solved this challenge by providing a next-generation RegTech software solution that enables customers to offer a seamless customer onboarding experience, maintain best-in-class monitoring capabilities, and balance automation vs. human touch via its intelligent orchestration engine. We are thrilled to partner with the industry thought leader in this space and look forward to supporting the company’s future growth initiatives.”

#crm, #europe, #financial-regulation, #financial-services, #fundings-exits, #know-your-customer, #level-equity, #london, #money-laundering, #passfort, #recent-funding, #regulatory-compliance, #regulatory-technology, #saas, #software-as-a-service, #startups, #tc, #worldremit

Father and Sons Are Charged in $21 Million Lottery Fraud

Ali Jaafar and his sons Mohamed and Yousef cashed in more than 13,000 Massachusetts lottery tickets, prosecutors said, allowing the actual winners to potentially avoid paying taxes or child support.

#federal-taxes-us, #frauds-and-swindling, #gambling, #jaafar-ali, #jaafar-mohamed, #jaafar-yousef, #lotteries, #massachusetts, #money-laundering, #tax-evasion

Regulating crypto is essential to ensuring its global legitimacy

The past decade has seen several structural changes in know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) regulations in Europe and globally. High-profile money laundering cases and the penetration of illicit funds into global markets have caught the attention of regulators and the public, and rightfully so.

The Wirecard scandal was a particularly salacious example, in which the investigation into widespread fraud revealed a chain of shell companies involved in illegal distribution of narcotics and pornography. Over at Danske Bank, some $227 billion was laundered through an Estonian subsidiary, going virtually unnoticed for nine years.

In the United States, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an action against Ripple Labs and two of its executives, claiming they had raised over $1.3 billion through an unregistered, ongoing digital asset securities offering. That case is ongoing.

Traditional forms of regulation from the fiat world do not reciprocally apply to every aspect of crypto nor to the fundamental nature of blockchain technology.

As regulators and financial institutions improve their understanding of these criminal practices, AML requirements have likewise been improved. But these adjustments have been an overwhelmingly reactive, trial-by-fire process.

To address the challenges of the fast-evolving blockchain ecosystem, the European Union has begun to introduce more stringent financial regulations that further bolster the regulatory system in order to improve licensing models. Many member states now regulate crypto assets individually, and Germany is leading the way in being the first to regulate cryptocurrencies.

These individual regulations clearly prescribe the pathway for crypto companies, outlining the requirements for obtaining and maintaining a financial license from the regulator. Compliance naturally boosts investor confidence and protection.

As these financial crimes and crypto itself evolves, so have regulatory bodies’ efforts to monitor, address and enforce restrictions. Internationally, the most prominent monitoring body is the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which outlines general guidance and determines best practices in anti-money-laundering practices and combating the financing of terrorism.

Although FATF is considered soft law, the task force sets the bar for workable regulations within crypto assets. Especially notable is FATF’s Recommendation 16, better known as the “travel rule,” which requires businesses to collect and store the personal data of participants in blockchain transactions. In theory, access to this data will enable authorities to have better oversight and enforcement of crypto market regulations. In other words, they’ll know exactly who is doing exactly what. Transparency is key.

The travel rule conundrum

FATF’s travel rule impacts two types of businesses: traditional financial institutions (banks, credit firms and so on) and crypto companies, otherwise known as virtual asset service providers (VASPs).

In its original incarnation, the travel rule only applied to banks, but was expanded to crypto companies in 2019. In 2021, many of the FATF member jurisdictions began to incorporate the travel rule into their local AML laws. This regulatory shift sent shockwaves through the crypto sector. The stakes of refusal are high: Failure to incorporate the travel rule results in a service provider being declared noncompliant, which is a major obstacle to doing business.

But, the travel rule is also a major hindrance that doesn’t take into account the novelty of crypto technology. It is problematic for crypto businesses to integrate due to the major amount of effort it poses when obtaining KYC data about the recipient and integrating it into day-to-day business.

In order for crypto businesses to obtain this information for outgoing payments, data would have to be provided by the client and would end up being virtually impossible to verify. This is highly disruptive to the crypto’s emblematic efficiency. Moreover, its implementation presents challenges regarding the accuracy of the data received by VASPs and banks. Also, it creates further data vulnerabilities due to additional data silos being created across the globe.

When it comes to international standardization measures rather than those isolated within certain communities, there is a wide gap between exclusively on-chain solutions (transactions that are recorded and verified on one specific blockchain) and cross-chain communication, which allows for interactions between different blockchains or for combining on-chain transactions with off-chain transactions that are conducted on other electronic systems, such as PayPal.

We must eventually find a halfway point between those with valid concerns about the anonymity crypto assets provide and those who see regulation as prohibitively restrictive on crypto. Both sides have a point, but crypto’s continued legitimacy and viability within the larger financial markets and industry is a net positive for all parties, making this negotiation nothing short of crucial.

Not anti-regulation, just anti-unworkable regulations

Ultimately, we need to regulate with efficacy, which necessitates legislation that is applicable specifically to digital assets and does not hinder the market without really solving any AML-related problems.

The already global nature of the traditional financial industry underscores the value of and need for FATF’s issuance of an international framework for regulatory oversight within crypto.

The criminal financial trade — money laundering, illegal weapons sales, human trafficking and so on — is also an international business. Thus, cracking down on it is, out of necessity, an international effort.

The decentralized nature of blockchain, which runs contrary to the central-server standard we know and use nearly everywhere, presents a formidable challenge here. Rules and regulations for traditional financial institutions are being implemented part and parcel onto crypto — a misstep and misunderstanding that ignores the innovation and novelty this economic ecosystem and its underlying technology entails.

Traditional forms of regulation from the fiat world do not reciprocally apply to every aspect of crypto nor to the fundamental nature of blockchain technology. However well intentioned they may be, because these imposed regulations are built on an old system, they must be adapted and modified.

The creation of fair restrictions on the technology’s use requires a fundamental understanding and cooperation within the limits and characteristics of those technologies. In traditional financial circles, the topic of blockchain is currently subject to more impassioned rhetoric than genuine understanding.

At the heart of the issue is the fundamental misunderstanding that blockchain transactions are anonymous or untraceable. Blockchain transactions are pseudo-anonymous and, in most circumstances, can offer more traceability and transparency than traditional banking. Illegal activity conducted on the blockchain will always be far more traceable than cash transactions, for example.

Technology with such immense potential should be made accessible, regulated and beneficial for everyone. Blockchain and digital assets are already revolutionizing the way we operate, and regulatory measures need to follow suit. The way forward cannot simply be delivering old-school directives, demanding obedience and doling out unfair punishments. There’s no reason a new way forward isn’t possible.

The end of the outlaw era

Activity can already be monitored through a collective database of users known to abide by international standards. This knowledge of approved users and vendors allows the industry to spot misconduct or malfeasance far sooner than usual, singling out and restricting illegitimate users.

By means of a well-thought-through tweaking of the suggested regulations, a verified network can collectively be built to ensure trust and properly leverage blockchain’s potential, while barring those bad actors intent on corrupting or manipulating the system. That would be a huge step forward in prosecuting international financial crimes and ensuring crypto’s legitimacy globally.

Crypto’s outlaw days are over, but it’s gained an unprecedented level of legitimacy that can only be preserved and bolstered by abiding with regulatory oversight.

That regulatory oversight can’t just be the old way of doing things copy-and-pasted onto blockchain transactions. Instead, it needs to be one that helps fight criminal activity, shores up investor confidence and throws a bone — not a wrench — to the very mechanics that make crypto a desirable financial investment.

#bitcoin, #blockchain, #column, #cryptocurrencies, #cryptocurrency, #europe, #european-union, #finance, #know-your-customer, #money-laundering, #opinion, #policy, #securities-and-exchange-commission, #tc

As Lebanon Collapses, Riad Salameh Faces Questions

People can’t get their money from banks, the currency has crashed and Riad Salameh’s reign at the central bank is facing allegations of fraud.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #corruption-institutional, #embezzlement, #lebanon, #money-laundering, #politics-and-government, #salameh-raja, #salameh-riad

A Canadian Mansion Becomes a Symbol of Haiti’s Disintegration

Valued at $3.4 million, a Haitian senator’s Montreal villa has become a potent emblem of the growing gap between Haiti’s impoverished citizens and its wealthy political elite.

#canada, #corruption-institutional, #frauds-and-swindling, #haiti, #moise-jovenel-1968, #money-laundering

Tiger Global leads $34M investment into Unit21, a no-code fraud prevention platform

Unit21, a startup that helps businesses monitor fraudulent activities with its no-code software, announced today it has raised $34 million in a Series B round of funding led by Tiger Global Management.

The round values San Francisco-based Unit21 at $300 million and comes nine months after the startup raised a $13 million Series A that included investments from the founders of Plaid, Chime and Shape Security as well as former Venmo COO Michael Vaughan.

ICONIQ Capital and existing backers Gradient Ventures (Google’s AI venture fund), A.Capital and South Park Commons participated in the latest funding event. 

Former Affirm product manager Trisha Kothari and Clarence Chio founded Unit21 in 2018 with the goal of giving risk, compliance and fraud teams a way to fight financial crime via a “secure, integrated, no-code platform.” 

Image Credits: Unit21

The pair say they started Unit21 based on the belief that the existing model of “black box” machine learning used for fraud prevention and detection was flawed. Their idea was to develop an alternative system to provide risk and compliance teams with more control over their operations. Unit21 describes its core technology as a “flag-and-review” toolset designed to give non-technical operators and anti-money laundering (AML) teams the ability to “easily” write complex statistical models and deploy customized workflows without having to involve their engineering teams. Unit21 says it provides this toolset to companies with the aim of helping them mitigate fraud and money laundering risks through Know Your Customer (KYC) verification, transaction monitoring detection and suspicious activity report (SAR) case management. 

Unit21 has built up an impressive customer base of over 50 enterprise clients, including Chime, Intuit, Coinbase, Gusto, Flywire, Wyre and Twitter, among others. The company says it has monitored more than $100 billion in activity via its API and dashboard since its 2018 inception. It also says that it has saved more than 20 million users over $100 million in fraud loss/suspicious activity. The company declined to reveal hard revenue figures, saying only revenue grew by “12x” in 2020 compared to 2019.

“Data is the most important weapon in the fight against fraud and money laundering,” Kothair said. “This funding will support our mission to democratize data and make it more accessible to  operations teams.”

The company will also use its new capital in part toward expanding its engineering, research & development and go-to-market  teams. As of late June, Unit21 had 53 employees, up from 12 at the same time last year. The startup also plans evolve its platform for generalized flag + review use cases beyond financial crimes and fraud. It’s also eyeing expansion in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) and Europe/Middle East (EMEA) markets.

Tiger Global Partner John Curtius said Unit21 is transforming organizations’ ability to “analyze data to its advantage for risk management and compliance.”

The space is a hot one with a number of other fraud-prevention companies raising capital in recent months including Sift, Seon and Feedzai. According to Compliance Week (citing analysis by Fenergo), financial institutions were hit with an estimated $10.4 billion in global fines and penalties related to anti-money laundering (AML), know your customer (KYC), data privacy, and MiFID (Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) regulations in 2020, bringing the total to $46.4 billion for those types of breaches since 2008. The report, spanning up to its release date of Dec. 9, said there has been 198 fines against financial institutions for AML, KYC, data privacy, and MiFID deficiencies, representing a 141% increase since 2019.

#a-capital, #api, #asia-pacific, #chime, #coinbase, #coo, #crime, #europe, #finance, #financial-regulation, #fintech, #flywire, #fraud, #funding, #fundings-exits, #gradient-ventures, #gusto, #iconiq-capital, #intuit, #know-your-customer, #machine-learning, #michael-vaughan, #middle-east, #money, #money-laundering, #no-code-software, #plaid, #product-manager, #recent-funding, #risk-management, #san-francisco, #shape-security, #startups, #tax-evasion, #tc, #terrorism, #tiger-global-management, #twitter, #venmo, #venture-capital

Man Awaiting Trial for Covid-19 Bank Fraud Does It Again, Authorities Say

A Pennsylvania man was facing bank fraud and money laundering charges over Paycheck Protection Program loan applications when he submitted another one, U.S. prosecutors said.

#coronavirus-aid-relief-and-economic-security-act-2020, #frasinelli-randy-a, #frauds-and-swindling, #money-laundering, #pennsylvania, #small-business, #small-business-administration

As Money Launderers Buy Dalís, U.S. Looks at Lifting the Veil on Art Sales

Secrecy has long been part of the art market’s mystique, but now lawmakers say they fear it fosters abuses and should be addressed.

#art, #art-dealers-assn-of-america, #auctions, #bouvier-yves, #dali-salvador, #finances, #financial-crimes-enforcement-network-treasury-department, #great-britain, #money-laundering, #philadelphia-pa, #rybolovlev-dmitry-evgenevich, #senate-permanent-subcommittee-on-investigations, #tax-shelters, #united-states-politics-and-government

Larry Householder, a Former Speaker, Is Expelled from the Ohio House

The 75-to-21 vote to expel Representative Larry Householder came nearly a year after he was charged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to bail out a foundering energy company.

#bribery-and-kickbacks, #householder-larry, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #lobbying-and-lobbyists, #money-laundering, #ohio, #politics-and-government, #racketeering-and-racketeers, #state-legislatures

Nun Stole Over $800,000 to Support Gambling Habit, Prosecutors Say

Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper has agreed to plead guilty to charges that she embezzled the money while she was the principal at a Catholic school in Torrance, Calif., prosecutors said.

#embezzlement, #frauds-and-swindling, #kreuper-mary-margaret, #money-laundering, #nuns, #private-and-sectarian-schools, #roman-catholic-church, #st-james-catholic-school-torrance-calif, #torrance-calif

Krugman Asks: Does the U.S. Dollar’s Dominance Really Matter?

The irrelevance of dollar dominance. 

#bitcoin-currency, #currency, #money-laundering, #united-states, #us-dollar-currency

British Fraud Unit Is Investigating Gupta and Greensill

The inquiry will focus a spotlight on a steel magnate and a financier whose business collapse has provoked a scandal in Britain.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #cameron-david, #frauds-and-swindling, #gfg-alliance-ltd, #great-britain, #greensill-capital, #gupta-sanjeev-1971, #money-laundering, #serious-fraud-office-united-kingdom

Man Bought Lamborghini With PPP Loan, Prosecutors Say

A California man was indicted on charges that he used money from the Payment Protection Program to buy a Lamborghini, a Ferrari and a Bentley, federal authorities said.

#automobiles, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #frauds-and-swindling, #hines-david-t, #identity-theft, #irvine-calif, #money-laundering, #price-lee-iii

Texas Lawyer Known as D.W.I. Dude Gets 15 Years in Fraud Scheme

A lawyer known as the D.W.I. Dude pocketed money that he told drug dealers would be used to bribe officials, prosecutors said.

#bribery-and-kickbacks, #colombia, #dallas-morning-news, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #drunken-and-reckless-driving, #extradition, #federal-bureau-of-investigation, #frauds-and-swindling, #money-laundering, #texas, #united-states

Former White House Adviser Is Charged With Stealing From Charter School Network

Seth Andrew, who served in the Obama administration, stole more than $200,000 to help him buy a $2 million Manhattan apartment, prosecutors said.

#andrew-seth, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #charter-schools, #crime-and-criminals, #democracy-prep-public-schools, #education-k-12, #frauds-and-swindling, #interest-rates, #money-laundering, #mortgages

Feedzai raises $200M at a $1B+ valuation for AI tools to fight financial fraud

On the heels of Jumio announcing a $150 million injection this week to continue building out its AI-based ID verification and anti-money laundering platform, another startup in the space is levelling up. Feedzai, which provides banks, others in the financial sector, and any company managing payments online with AI tools to spot and fight fraud — its cornerstone service involves super quick (3 millisecond) checks happening in the background while transactions are being made — has announced a Series D of $200 million. It said that the new financing is being made at a valuation of over $1 billion.

The round is being led by KKR, with Sapphire Ventures and strategic backer Citi Ventures — both past investors — also participating. Feedzai said it will be using the funds for further R&D and product development, to expand into more markets outside the U.S. — it was originally founded in Portugal but now is based out of San Mateo — and towards business development, specifically via partnerships to integrate and sell its tools.

One of those partners looks to be Citi itself:

“Citi is committed to advancing global payments anchored on transparency, efficiency, and control, and our partnership with Feedzai is allowing us to provide customers with technology that seamlessly balances agility and security,” said Manish Kohli, Global Head of Payments and Receivables, with Citi’s Treasury and Trade Solutions, in a statement.

The funding is coming at a time when the need for fraud protection for those managing transactions online has reached a high watermark, leading to a rush of customers for companies in the field.

Feezai says that its customers include 4 of the 5 largest banks in North America, 80% of the world’s Fortune 500 companies, 154 million individual and business taxpayers in the U.S., and has processed $9 billion in online transactions for 2 of the world’s most valuable athletic brands. In total its reach covers some 800 million customers of businesses that use its services.

In addition to Citibank, its customers include Fiserv, Santander, SoFi, and Standard Chartered’s Mox.

The round comes nearly four years after Feedzai raised its Series C, a $50 million round led by an unnamed investor and with an undisclosed valuation. Sapphire also participated in that round.

While money laundering, fraud and other kinds of illicit financial activity were already problems then, in the interim, the problem has only compounded, not least because of how much activity has shifted online, accelerating especially in the last year of pandemic-driven lockdowns. That’s been exacerbated also by a general rise in cybercrime — of which financial fraud remains the biggest component and motivator.

Within that bigger trend, solutions based on artificial intelligence have really emerged as critical to the task of identifying and fighting those illicit activities. Not only is that because AI solutions are able to make calculations and take actions and simply process more than non-AI based tools, or humans for that matter, but they are then able to go head to head with much of the fraud taking place, which itself is being built out on AI-based platforms and requires more sophistication to identify and combat.

For banking customers, Feedzai’s approach has been disruptive in part because of how it has conceived of the problem: it has built solutions that can be used across different scenarios, making them more powerful since the AI system is subsequently “learning” from more data. This is in contrast to how many financial service providers had conceived and tackled the issue in the past.

“Until now banks have used solutions based on verticals,” Nuno Sebastiao, co-founder and CEO of Feedzai, said in the past to TechCrunc. “The fraud solution you have for an ATM wouldn’t be the same fraud solution you would use for online banking which wouldn’t be the same fraud solution would have for a voice call center.” As these companies have refreshed their systems, many have taken a more agnostic approach like the kind the Feedzai has built.

The scale of the issue is clear, and unfortunately also something many of us have experienced first-hand. Feedzai says its data indicates that the last quarter of 2020 that show consumers saw a 650% increase in account takeover scams, a 600% in impersonation scams, and a 250% increase in online banking fraud attacks versus the first quarter of 2020.  (Those periods are, essentially, before pandemic and during pandemic comparisons.)

“The past 12 months have accelerated the world’s dependency on electronic financial services – from online banking to mobile payments, and in turn have increased fraud and money laundering activity. Our services are in more demand than ever,” said Sebastiao in a statement today.

Indeed, yesterday, when I covered Jumio’s $150 million round, I said I wouldn’t consider its funding to be an outlier (even though Jumio made clear it was the largest funding to date in its space): the fast follow from Feedzai, with an even higher amount of financing, really does underscore the trend at the moment.

In addition to these two, one of Feedzai’s biggest competitors, Kount, was acquired by credit ratings giant Equifax earlier this year for $640 million to move deeper into the space. (And related to that field, in the area of identity management, which goes hand-in-hand with tools for laundering and fraud, Okta acquired Auth0 for $6.5 billion.)

Other big rounds for startups in the wider space have included included ForgeRock ($96 million round), Onfido ($100 million), Payfone ($100 million), ComplyAdvantage ($50 million), Ripjar ($36.8 million) Truework ($30 million), Zeotap ($18 million) and Persona ($17.5 million).

KKR’s involvement in this round is notable as another example of a private equity firm getting in earlier with venture rounds with fast-scaling startups, similar to Great Hill’s investment in Jumio yesterday and a number of other examples. The firm says it’s making this investment out of its Next Generation Technology Growth Fund II, which is focused on making growth equity investment opportunities in the technology space.

“Feedzai offers a powerful solution to one of the biggest challenges we are facing today: financial crime in the digital age. Global commerce depends on future-proof technologies capable of dealing with a rapidly evolving threat landscape. At the same time, consumers rightfully demand a great customer experience, in addition to strong security layers when using banking or payments services,” said Stephen Shanley, Managing Director at KKR, in a statement

“We believe Feedzai’s platform uniquely meets these expectations and more, and we are looking forward to working with Nuno and the rest of the team to expand their offering even further,” added Spencer Chavez, Principal at KKR.

#artificial-intelligence, #enterprise, #europe, #feedzai, #finance, #fraud, #funding, #money-laundering, #payments, #security, #tc

Former Vatican Banker Convicted of Money Laundering and Embezzlement

The ruling by the Vatican court signaled the church’s desire to get its financial house in order following past scandals.

#caloia-angelo, #embezzlement, #money-laundering, #roman-catholic-church, #vatican-bank, #vatican-city

Italy Starts Largest Mob Trial in Decades

Prosecutors in the southern region of Calabria opened a trial of 325 defendants linked to the ‘Ndrangheta crime syndicate accused of murder, corruption, drug trafficking and other crimes.

#ndrangheta, #calabria-italy, #drug-abuse-and-traffic, #italy, #money-laundering, #murders-attempted-murders-and-homicides, #organized-crime

Congress Poised to Apply Banking Regulations to Antiquities Market

Regulators have long worried that the secrecy of the antiquities trade, where buyers and sellers are seldom identified, made it an easy way to launder money.

#art, #arts-and-antiquities-looting, #auctions, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #christies, #financial-crimes-enforcement-network-treasury-department, #law-and-legislation, #money-laundering, #national-defense-authorization-act, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #senate, #united-states-politics-and-government, #vetoes-us

Navy Warship’s Secret Mission Off West Africa Aims to Help Punish Venezuela

The tale of the cruiser San Jacinto underscores the Trump administration’s animus toward Venezuela and how the postelection purge of top Pentagon leaders is roiling the military.

#abrams-elliott, #arreaza-jorge, #cape-verde, #defense-department, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #iran, #maduro-nicolas, #miller-christopher-c-1965, #money-laundering, #state-department, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-africa-command, #united-states-defense-and-military-forces, #united-states-navy, #venezuela

Hunter Biden Discloses He Is Focus of Federal Tax Inquiry

Mr. Biden said Justice Department prosecutors in Delaware had said they were examining his “tax affairs.”

#biden-hunter, #biden-joseph-r-jr, #cefc-china-energy, #federal-taxes-us, #justice-department, #money-laundering, #presidential-election-of-2020, #taxation, #trump-donald-j, #united-states-politics-and-government

Bolsonaro’s Eldest Son, a Senator, Faces Graft Charges in Brazil

Flávio Bolsonaro has been under investigation on suspicion of running a kickback scheme that has embroiled several members of the family, including the first lady.

#bolsonaro-flavio, #bolsonaro-jair-1955, #brazil, #corruption-institutional, #money-laundering

Tax Officials Investigate Euro Pacific Bank in Puerto Rico

Tax enforcers from five nations are investigating Euro Pacific Bank, which operates in a U.S. territory criticized in the past for its lax financial regulation.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #corporate-taxes, #euro-pacific-intl-bank-inc, #federal-taxes-us, #money-laundering, #peter-schiff, #puerto-rico, #tax-evasion, #tax-shelters

Why We Let White-Collar Criminals Get Away With Their Crimes

In “Big Dirty Money,” Jennifer Taub, a law professor, shows how the justice system caters to wealthy white-collar criminals at the expense of American taxpayers.

#barr-william-p, #big-dirty-money-the-shocking-injustice-and-unseen-cost-of-white-collar-crime-book, #books-and-literature, #courts-and-the-judiciary, #frauds-and-swindling, #high-net-worth-individuals, #money-laundering, #taub-jennifer-s, #trump-donald-j

Asif Ali Zardari, Ex-President of Pakistan, Indicted in Money Laundering Case

The case against Asif Ali Zardari, widower of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, is the latest in a string of moves against opposition figures that his supporters say are politically motivated.

#corruption-institutional, #khan-imran, #legislatures-and-parliaments, #money-laundering, #pakistan, #sharif-shahbaz, #zardari-asif-ali

Banks Suspected Illegal Activity, but Processed Big Transactions Anyway

A leak of thousands of “suspicious activity reports” that banks filed with regulators shows the widespread nature of illicit money flows.

#bank-of-america-corporation, #bank-of-new-york-mellon-corporation, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #buzzfeed-inc, #deutsche-bank-ag, #financial-crimes-enforcement-network-treasury-department, #frauds-and-swindling, #international-consortium-of-investigative-journalists, #jpmorgan-chasecompany, #money-laundering, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #standard-chartered-bank-plc

A Job That Isn’t Hard to Get in a Pandemic: Swindlers’ Helper

Criminals are increasingly using people like Denise Newton to move their money, just as many have lost their jobs and are vulnerable.

#better-business-bureaus, #careers-and-professions, #computers-and-the-internet, #coronavirus-2019-ncov, #frauds-and-swindling, #hiring-and-promotion, #labor-and-jobs, #money-laundering, #unemployment, #united-states-economy

International Crime Ring That Trafficked in Shark Fins Is Dismantled, U.S. Says

Law enforcement agents documented the harvest of more than six tons of shark fins, officials said.

#drug-abuse-and-traffic, #georgia, #hong-kong, #marijuana, #mexico, #money-laundering, #organized-crime, #search-and-seizure, #sharks, #soups, #united-states, #wildlife-trade-and-poaching, #xing-zhao-wu-terry

Juan Carlos, Spain’s Former King, Quits Country Amid Multiple Investigations

The former king’s departure, which comes as he faces financial inquiries, may fuel Spain’s political and social debate over the future of the monarchy.

#felipe-vi-king-of-spain, #juan-carlos-i-king-of-spain, #money-laundering, #podemos-spanish-political-party, #politics-and-government, #royal-families, #spain

Senate Report: Opaque Art Market Helped Oligarchs Evade Sanctions

Congressional investigators said companies tied to two Russians under sanctions were able to buy art using shell companies and an intermediary.

#art, #auctions, #baltser-grigory, #baltzer-llc, #christies, #embargoes-and-sanctions, #highland-ventures-ltd, #money-laundering, #moscow-russia, #new-york-state, #portman-rob, #putin-vladimir-v, #rotenberg-arkady-r-1951, #rotenberg-boris-1957, #senate, #senate-permanent-subcommittee-on-investigations, #sothebys, #steamort-ltd, #united-states-politics-and-government

Najib Razak, Malaysia’s Former Prime Minister, Found Guilty in Graft Trial

The trial was the first of several related to the pilfering of billions from the 1MDB fund, a national scandal that led to the ouster of Mr. Najib’s party in 2018.

#1malaysia-development-berhad-1mdb, #corruption-institutional, #decisions-and-verdicts, #frauds-and-swindling, #goldman-sachs-group-inc, #malaysia, #money-laundering, #najib-razak, #politics-and-government, #united-malays-national-organization

Deutsche Bank Settles Over Ignored Red Flags on Jeffrey Epstein

The German lender repeatedly overlooked suspicious transactions, including payments to people a New York regulator described as his co-conspirators.

#banking-and-financial-institutions, #child-abuse-and-neglect, #department-of-financial-services-nys, #deutsche-bank-ag, #epstein-jeffrey-e-1953, #money-laundering, #regulation-and-deregulation-of-industry, #sex-crimes

Remessa Online raises $20 million to become the TransferWise of Latin America

Remessa Online, the Brazilian money transfer service, said it has closed on $20 million in financing from one of the leading Latin American venture capital firms, Kaszek Ventures, and Accel Partners’ Kevin Efrusy, the architect of the famed venture capital firm’s Latin American investments.

Since its launch in 2016, Remessa Online has provided a pipeline for over $2 billion worth of international transfers for small and medium-sized businesses in the country. The company now boasts over 300,000 customers from 100 countries and says its fees are typically one eighth the cost of the local money transfer options.

“We understand that transferring money is just the beginning, and we are eager to build a global financial system that will make life easier for global citizens and businesses alike,” Liuzzi said.

Money transfer services are a huge business that startups have spent the last decade trying to improve in Europe and the U.S. European money transfer company, TransferWise has raised over $770 million alone in its bid to unseat the incumbents in the market. Meanwhile, the business-to-business cross-border payment gateway, Payoneer, has raised roughly $270 million to provide those services to small businesses.

Remessa Online already boasts a powerful group of investors and advisors including André Penha, the co-founder of apartment rental company QuintoAndar, and the former chief operating officer of Kraft Heinz USA, Fabio Armaganijan. With the new investment from Kaszek Ventures, firm co-founder Hernan Kazah, also the co-founder of the Latin American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre, will take a seat on the company’s board.

“We developed an online solution that is faster and substantially cheaper than traditional banking platforms, with digital and scalable processes and omnichannel customer support offered by a team of experts”, said Remessa Online’s co-founder and strategy director Alexandre Liuzzi, in a statement.

Last year, the company expanded its money transfer service to the U.K. and Europe, allowing Brazilians abroad to invest money, pay for education or rent housing without documentation or paperwork. The company’s accounts now come with an International Banking Account Number that allows its customers to receive money in nine currencies.

With the new year, Remessa has added additional services for small and medium-sized businesses and expanded its geographic footprint to include Argentina and Chile.

Latin American countries — especially Brazil — have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While much of the economy is still reeling, the broad trends that are moving consumers and businesses to adopt e-commerce and mobile payment solutions are just as pronounced in the region as they are in the U.S., according to investors like Kazah.

“This crisis is accelerating the digitization process of several industries around the world and Remessa Online has taken the lead to transform the cross-border segment in Brazil, specially for SMBs,” he said in a statement.

Founded in 2016 by Fernando Pavani, Alexandre Liuzzi, Stefano Milo and Marcio William, Remessa Online was born from the founders own needs to find an easier way to send and receive money from abroad, according to the company.

In 2018, after a $4 million investment from Global Founders Capital and MAR Ventures, the company developed international processing capabilities and a more robust compliance tool kit to adhere to international anti-money laundering and know your customer standards. In the latter half of 2019, the company entered the SMB market with the launch of a toolkit for businesses that had been typically ignored by larger financial services institutions in Brazil.

“We believe in a world without physical borders. Our mission is to help our clients with their global financial needs, so that they can focus on what matters: their international dreams,” said Liuzzi.

#accel-partners, #advisors, #argentina, #bank, #banking, #brazil, #chief-operating-officer, #chile, #co-founder, #e-commerce, #economy, #europe, #finance, #financial-services, #global-founders-capital, #kaszek-ventures, #kevin-efrusy, #mercadolibre, #money, #money-laundering, #new-years-day, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital, #venture-capital-firms