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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Goldman Sachs Is Said to Try to Avoid Pleading Guilty in 1MDB Scandal

The bank has asked the U.S. to review demands that any settlement include a guilty plea to a felony charge, according to people briefed on the matter.

#1malaysia-development-berhad-1mdb, #banking-and-financial-institutions, #corruption-institutional, #fines-penalties, #goldman-sachs-group-inc, #justice-department, #leissner-tim, #low-jho-1981, #money-laundering, #united-states-politics-and-government

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Regulators May Punish Deutsche Bank for Its Jeffrey Epstein Ties

Banking regulators in New York have been investigating the German bank’s yearslong relationship with the disgraced financier.

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

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Malaysia Drops Charges Against ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ Producer in 1MDB Case

Riza Aziz was accused of laundering money from a government investment fund and using it to finance his films. He agreed to return assets worth more than $107 million.

#1malaysia-development-berhad-1mdb, #aziz-riza-shahriz-abdul, #malaysia, #money-laundering, #najib-razak, #red-granite-pictures, #united-malays-national-organization

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