In a stunning rebuttal to the global financial crime watchdog the FATF, the European Parliament voted on Tuesday 23 April to keep the United Arab Emirates on the EU’s list of High Risk Third Countries. This will complicate due diligence efforts for regulated entities who may no longer be able to rely solely on the FATF grey list as the single source of truth for jurisdictions at high risk of financial crime. 

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A trio of fines for money laundering breaches handed down by the SRA at the end of April 2024 have highlighted the dangers of non-compliance by smaller and medium sized law firms. The fines total over £45,000 and in each of the three cases, basic money laundering due diligence was not done, or the correct policies and procedures were not put in place.

The decisions come as the SRA flexes its new fining powers, with at least ten decisions on AML breaches in the first quarter of 2024 alone. These cases saw fines of almost £170,000. With the trio of fines in April, the average AML fine for a small or medium size d law firm falls between £10,000 to £25,000.

The cases revolved around a failure to property conduct due diligence on clients and third parties, and failing to properly assess matter risks. Due diligence wasn’t done on funds coming from other jurisdictions and enhanced due diligence wasn’t done, nor was due diligence completed before accepting funds, and firm AML policies controls and procedures were not fully in place. 

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In a new manifesto, MPs outline their vision for UK anti-corruption laws. What does this mean for the future of bribery and corruption regulation?

A cross-party group of MPs want the next government to ensure that the UK is no longer a haven for dirty money by enacting legislation that would tighten up current corporate anti-corruption legislation. Senior MPs have called for a drastic expansion of regulated entities under the UK’s money laundering regime to include universities, PR agencies, property developers, all letting agents, commodity traders, and litigation.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Anti-Corruption and Responsible Tax and the APPG on Fair Business Banking jointly launched the economic crime manifesto in which the group lays out four principles for pragmatic reform to clean the UK’s finance sector: Transparency, regulation, enforcement and accountability.

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AI is everywhere, and the higher and further education sectors are no exception. Artificial intelligence is increasingly being integrated into higher and further education for a variety of uses by both staff and students. The new technology has the potential to herald a new era of innovation, creativity, and efficiency, and effectively revolutionise higher education. For students, AI powered tools can enable more personalised learning experiences, enhanced accessibility and research capabilities, easier collaboration, and automate student administrative and logistical tasks such as scheduling, registration, and financial aid management. For staff and administration, AI solutions also offer numerous benefits, including streamlined and more efficient administrative processes, data-driven decision making, recruitment and admissions process, as well as creative academic applications, such as having students critically evaluate AI generated texts, freeing up valuable staff time and resources for more personalised student support and academic initiatives. 

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Jeffrey Cook was found guilty of taking over £70K in kickbacks 

Jeffrey Cook, a former Ministry of Defence (MoD) employee received 30 months in jail time after being convicted of misconduct in public office. Cook took over £70K in payments and gifts as kickbacks on a public contract that he arranged while he was an employee at the MoD.

Between 2004 and 2008, Cook was on secondment when he commissioned a series of reports from an offshore company, ME Consultants, for the MoD on its “SANGCOM” project to provide military communications equipment and services to the Saudi Arabian National Guard. The company was paid about £700K. Serious Fraud Office (SFO)  investigators discovered that Cook concealed payments and gifts he received totalling about 10% of its fee as a kickback. He received more than £44K in cash and two cars worth £30K according to SFO prosecutors.

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This charge is the first in an investigation initiated by the newly-launched National Anti-Corruption Commission

A former employee of the Western Sydney Airport (WSA) has been charged with allegedly soliciting a bribe of $200k during the procurement process for a contract to provide services at the airport. The contract was worth an estimated $5 million. 

The charge was made by the National Anti-Corruption Commission (NACC), following a joint investigation with the Australian Federal Police. The long awaited NACC was founded this past July with the goal of preventing, detecting and investigating corrupt conduct in the Commonwealth. It is the first time an independent anti corruption body has overseen the entire Commonwealth public sector.

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The revised version scales back the scope of the landmark new law

The Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD) is legislation designed to get companies to protect the environment, maintain social justice and promote a stronger, sustainable economy. It requires that companies consider the social and environmental impact of their operations by promoting transparency and encouraging companies to be more proactive in identifying and mitigating sustainability risks. 

A watered-down version of the Directive was approved in March, meaning that it is likely to become law later this year.

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The move comes as Australia seeks to implement stricter AML laws nationwide

In an effort to prevent money laundering, Queensland implemented legislation that limits cash gambling at the state’s casinos. The new law also involves identity verification and a code of conduct at casinos. The legislation comes as Tranche 2 anti-money laundering (AML) reforms are likely to soon come into force in Australia. 

Queensland attorney general Yvette D’Ath noted that casinos will be restricted to accepting a certain amount of cash from a person for gambling-related transactions in a 24-hour period. The cash limit will be set through regulation but is likely to be about $1,000. 

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