Monday, April 4, 2016

The Suspects will be Charged with Conspiracy to Import and Distribute Medicines

The bankers also DON’T need to hear another glaringly obvious anecdote about an analyst who has just joined the company and has a great opportunity to work with King/Prince/Senator X from non-cooperative African/Middle Eastern jurisdiction Y – and most importantly – you know that when in doubt, ALWAYS call the company AML/Compliance hotline.

BUT…for a bank facing large fines, what happens when the scenario isn’t so clear and the answers aren’t multiple-choice? How can your technology and your data infrastructure help you rely less on personal judgement and more on facts to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing?
Fines – and budgets – are growing
Fines and monetary settlements for banks not in compliance with AML regulations are growing, and surpassed $13.4 billion in 2014. As such, banks are increasing their investment in counter-measures, which include the employment of former investigators as staff members in senior compliance roles and advanced technology and data systems.

According to an Ovum’s annual ICT Enterprise Insights survey, compliance continues to be a core driver of growing IT budgets. The survey showed that 55 percent of retail banking respondents expected AML-related IT budgets to grow in 2016. If banks have the IT budget – the next question is – how can they most effectively use it to prevent money laundering and comply with regulatory mandates? The answer lies in big data and analytics.
Follow the money with the data
AML presents a data analytics challenge with a wide variety of sources and types of data available for analysis. These encompass both public and private data sets that may be structured, semi-structured, or unstructured, including:

  1. Publicly Available Sanctions Lists– Data sets include the OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) sanctions lists of Specially Designated Nationals (SDNs), Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs), sanctions programs and countries.
  2. Client and Legal Entity Data– Banks have historically managed their own client databases within the walls of their institutions, or relied on other commercially available data on individuals and entities. Recently, they have started to consolidate efforts with the creation of client and legal entity data utilities to be leveraged across multiple institutions. These greatly improve a bank’s customer identification and due diligence capabilities and provide a common identification method. The utilities were designed by and are supported and utilized by the world’s largest institutions and include the Clarient Entity Hub and
  3. Financial Transaction Data– Transactional structured/semi-structured data is typically held within the exchanges or institutions in which transactions have taken place.
  4. Personal Communications– Communications with counterparties can take many forms and manifest themselves in many systems.

US Authorities just Busted another huge drug-smuggling Tunnel under US-Mexico Border

US federal agents have arrested four people and seized nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana in an operation to bust a drug-smuggling ring that had tunneled under the US-Mexico border, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday. The smugglers built a house to hide the northern entrance to the 400-yard (365 meter) tunnel in Calexico, the US Attorney’s Office for Southern California said. The southern end of the tunnel came up in El Sarape restaurant in Mexicali, Mexico, authorities said.

It is the first smuggling tunnel found in more than 10 years in Calexico, a small city of about 40,000 people some 120 miles (193 km) east of San Diego, but the 12th discovered along Mexico’s border with California since 2006. The rest of the tunnels were found in the San Diego area.

“The Mexico-US border is like a block of cheese with holes in it, with tunnels across it,” author and journalist Ioan Grillo told Business Insider. In the case of Calexico tunnel, federal investigators had been observing it and its operators since its construction began. The smugglers purchased the land last April, and by the time construction wrapped up in December, federal investigators were using wiretaps and watching activity at the house, charging documents said.

“This house and tunnel were constructed under the watchful eye of law enforcement,” said Laura Duffy, US Attorney for Southern California. “For the builders, the financiers and the operators of these passageways, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.”

Federal agents continued to monitor the house, a separate safe house in Calexico and four suspects until the first loads of marijuana came through at the end of February. On March 7, investigators seized 1,350 pounds of pot that came through the tunnel as it was being transported through the Los Angeles area, according to federal documents. On Tuesday, a mother and daughter who were allegedly part of the ring were arrested in nearby Nogales, Arizona. On Wednesday, federal investigators arrested two men in Calexico — one at the tunnel house and one at the safe house — and seized an additional 1,532 pounds of marijuana from the tunnel.

While the tunnel discovered this week was the first one found in Calexico in years, smuggling tunnels are a prominent feature of the criminal landscape on the US-Mexico border, particularly in the US southwest. “The fact is that that 2,000-mile border is riddled with tunnels,” Mike Vigil, former chief of international operations for the DEA, told Business Insider in an interview.

The Sinaloa cartel of Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán is credited with some of the most ambitious tunnel-building, including several “super-tunnels,” which spanned hundreds of meters and had features like air-conditioning, electric lights, and rails for carts used to move goods.