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The ACAMS Connection is a bi-weekly e-newsletter exclusive to ACAMS members. It provides members with a snapshot of anti-money laundering (AML) current events, the latest trends in financial crime and updates on what is new to the ACAMS community. The ACAMS Connection is the trusted source by ACAMS members for staying on top of industry best practices. Click here to subscribe to the ACAMS Connection newsletter.  

Recently Featured

Hue Dang: Revamping ACAMS Risk Assessment

Hue Dang, CAMS-Audit, global head of New Ventures and the senior Asia Pacific (APAC) leader for ACAMS, took time to talk with ACAMS Today to discuss the association’s latest efforts in risk assessments in anti-money laundering (AML)/sanctions/suspicious activities. With New Ventures, Dang is the association’s.


Information Sharing in Modern Times

In a world where financial crime is no longer an if but a when, and no longer an exception but rather an expectation, financial institutions (FIs) need to use all the tools at their disposal to stop financial crime. FIs in the current environment cannot.


Contextual Risk and Its Impact on AML and Sanctions Programs

The term “contextual risk” is quickly becoming a buzzword in our industry as technology advancements and data expansion continues. And while those items are important for efficiency when it comes to developing a contextual risk baseline for customers, it is important in this process not to lose the critical element of the human touch.


Previously Featured

FinCEN Takes Steps Towards Reacquiring, Regulating Old Target: Investment Advisers

Federal officials have revived efforts to impose anti-money laundering rules on investment advisers— the gatekeepers of a market worth more than $110 trillion—to plug a widely acknowledged regulatory gap through which large sums flow into the U.S. with little, if any, oversight. Click here to read the full article.


Danske Bank Anticipates $2.1 Billion in Penalties to Resolve Money-Laundering Scandal

Danske Bank on Thursday disclosed that it anticipates having to pay U.S. and Danish authorities a combined $2.1 billion in penalties to settle allegations that its now-shuttered Estonian affiliate helped criminals launder billions of dollars from 2007 to 2015. Click here to read the full article.


Seattle Area Cryptocurrency Exchange Undermined US Sanctions Against Iran, Russia

Bittrex, a cryptocurrency platform headquartered in Washington state, will pay more than $29 million in penalties to the Treasury Department after willfully violating U.S. sanctions and the Bank Secrecy Act over a period of several years, federal officials said Tuesday. Click here to read the full article. 


Hue Dang: Revamping ACAMS Risk Assessment

Hue Dang, CAMS-Audit, global head of New Ventures and the senior Asia Pacific (APAC) leader for ACAMS, took time to talk with ACAMS Today to discuss the association’s latest efforts in risk assessments in anti-money laundering (AML)/sanctions/suspicious activities. With New Ventures, Dang is the association’s.


One Down, Two to Go: FinCEN Publishes Final Beneficial Ownership Rule

U.S. officials finalized a rule Thursday crafted to prevent criminals from using legal entities to disguise themselves from financial institutions and transfer funds anonymously, launder their profits into real estate and exercise control over legitimate companies for nefarious purposes. Click here to read the full article. 


Information Sharing in Modern Times

In a world where financial crime is no longer an if but a when, and no longer an exception but rather an expectation, financial institutions (FIs) need to use all the tools at their disposal to stop financial crime. FIs in the current environment cannot.


Contextual Risk and Its Impact on AML and Sanctions Programs

The term “contextual risk” is quickly becoming a buzzword in our industry as technology advancements and data expansion continues. And while those items are important for efficiency when it comes to developing a contextual risk baseline for customers, it is important in this process not to lose the critical element of the human touch.


Best Practices for Evolving Your Risk Assessment Process

The quote by Lao Tzu feels appropriate considering the numerous public and non-public regulatory actions, resource constraints and lack of senior management engagement that have plagued anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) and sanctions programs.


Resume Advice for the AFC Professional

In 2016, an article in ACAMS Today provided information and tips on crafting effective resumes. Fast-forward to 2020, when the rapid spread of the COVID-19 virus resulted in the so-called “great resignation” where, for various reasons, large portions of certain industries quit their jobs, leaving businesses searching for applicants to fill open roles.


Red Hot Careers Worth Considering

The financial services sector, especially in the financial technology (fintech) area, has experienced a wave of layoffs lately. This article will cover six career options that are red hot right now in terms of hiring activity.


Central Bank Digital Currency and What It Means to the AFC Industry

According to the Guinness World Records, the first paper-based currency was developed during China’s Tang Dynasty in the seventh century and later introduced to Europe by explorers such as Marco Polo in the 13th century, as stated by the Foundation for Economic Education.


US Lawmakers, Treasury Clash Over SARs

The Treasury Department’s decision to restrict congressional access to financial intelligence on the basis of protecting confidential information and ongoing investigations has created friction with U.S. lawmakers, who say they require the data to perform their constitutional oversight role. Click here to read the full article.


BSA Policy: The Do’s and Don’ts

Many U.S. financial institutions (FIs)1 are subject to the Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act of 1970, better known as the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). These FIs are required to incorporate policies, procedures and internal controls reasonably designed to assure compliance with the BSA and its implementing regulations in a BSA/anti-money laundering (AML) compliance program.


Fintechs Seeking ‘Master Accounts’ Must Show AML Controls, Regulator Says

Financial technology-centric platforms, or fintechs, with special-purpose charters must meet essentially the same U.S. regulatory standards, including anti-money laundering requirements, as banks to secure access to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s payment rails, the agency advised. Click here to read the full article.


Proceeds of Crime: The Story of Alex Saab

Alex Nain Saab Moránis is a Colombian businessman who illicitly obtained money from multiple millionaire contracts with the Venezuelan government. Saab was involved in two government-funded programs: Gran Misión Vivienda Venezuela, which was designed to build houses for the poor in Venezuela and Comité Local de Abastecimiento y Producción, “the CLAP program,”1 for delivering food to low-income families.


US AML Cases Hit Record Low in 2021, Sanctions Enforcement Remained Steady

Amid an overall decline in U.S. regulatory enforcement in every category, federal anti-money laundering actions rose in aggregate value last year but plumbed new depths in terms of volume as sanctions-related cases continued apace. Click here to read the full article.


New York Regulator Discloses First Penalty Against Cryptocurrency Industry

Robinhood cofounders Baiju Bhatt and Vlad Tenev walk in New York City on Thursday, July 29, 2021. Robinhood Crypto was fined $30 million by New York’s DFS on Monday, Aug. 22, 2022, for AML and cybersecurity failures. Click here to read the full article.


Managing Financial Crime Risks in Digital Payments

Payment services were long offered to companies and individuals by banks, but in the last 20 years, dedicated and specialized providers greatly expanded the market. In 2020, global payments revenues reached $1.9 trillion.1 Digital payments mechanisms include credit and debit cards as well as recent payments innovations, such as digital wallets. The shift to digital payments is expected to continue.


Risk and Effects on the Economy Through a Unique Lens

Underground financial markets are avenues that offer a shadow banking system. Billions of transactions pass through these channels daily. Due to the advancement of technology, many criminals use this methodology to facilitate their legal and illegal enterprises by means of underground and/or cyber transactions. Even innocent members of the public can get caught unwittingly in criminal schemes through their use of technology.


FinCEN’s AML and Terrorist Financing Priorities: An Introduction

In 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued its first set of anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorist financing priorities.


Binance Lands €3.3 Million AML Penalty in the Netherlands

The Dutch central bank has fined Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, €3.3 million for handling cryptocurrency-denominated transactions, maintaining digital wallets and offering other financial services in the country without authorization. Click here to read the full article.


EU’s AML Agency Would Supervise Cryptocurrency, More Banks Under Latest Plan

EU nations want an impending bloc-wide anti-money laundering regulator to directly supervise all manner of financial institutions, including virtual asset service providers, or VASPs, and monitor at least one bank or other AML-regulated company in each country. Click here to read the full article.


Cullen Commission Blames Ottawa for British Columbia’s Money Laundering Problem

A final report on money laundering in British Columbia published Wednesday, June 16, 2022, spreads the blame for gaps that allowed criminals to move billions of illicit dollars into the province over the past decade. Click here to read the full article.


Organized Retail Theft Profits Moving Through US Banks

Perpetrators of organized retail crime, or ORCs, use a variety of methods to move and launder their profits, from simple structuring of deposits to complex trade-based and third-party money-laundering schemes, federal investigators and anti-financial crime professionals have found. Click here to read the full article.


EU Launches Sanctions Busting Crackdown

Bankers, attorneys and other professionals in the European Union who help blacklisted Russian oligarchs evade sanctions would face a higher risk of prosecution under proposed EU legislation. Click here to read the full article.


Canada Pledges More Dollars, New Legislation for AML Overhaul

Canadian officials want to extend anti-money laundering requirements to unregulated mortgage lenders and other new sectors in the years ahead, while also dramatically boosting spending on AML supervision, financial crime investigations and corporate transparency. Click here to read the full article.


UK Regulator Highlights Common Compliance Failings by ‘Challenger Banks’

Britain’s financial regulator has warned online lenders and other “challenger banks” to remedy common weaknesses in their customer risk assessments, suspicious-transaction-reporting processes and other aspects of their compliance programs. Click here to read the full article.


Shell Companies, Data Hurdles Give Rise to ‘Oscar,’ EU’s Newest Sanctions Project

Europol, the EU’s law enforcement agency, has launched a new initiative to support financial and criminal investigations by the bloc’s 27 nations into parties blacklisted for their ties to or support of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Click here to read the full article.


Hunt for Russian Wealth Exposes EU’s Sanctions Shortcomings

Russia’s brutal military offensive against Ukraine has accomplished in a little more than a month what consecutive EU officials and their allies have struggled to do for more than a decade: spurred European nations to get serious about enforcing sanctions. Click here to read the full article.


Monaco Targets Key AML Vulnerability: Luxury Yachts

The world’s largest yacht, Russian billionaire Andrey Melnichenko’s Yacht A, appears off the coast of Monaco in June 2018. Monaco extended anti-money laundering rules to luxury yacht sales and charters in February. Click here to read the full article.


Lithuania Plans Tighter Cryptocurrency Laws

Concerns that the “exponential growth” of cryptocurrency exchanges and other virtual asset service providers, or VASPs, in Lithuania could fuel financial crime have prompted officials in the Baltic nation to fast-track legal reforms. Click here to read the full article.


FinCEN, Western FIUs Target Russian Finances

The U.S. financial intelligence unit outlined plans Wednesday to boost exchanges of data on illicit transfers linked to Russia with the FIUs of Canada, the U.K. and seven other countries, weeks after the Kremlin triggered unprecedented international sanctions by invading Ukraine. Click here to read the full article.


US and UK Officials Target Russian Banks, EU Set to Follow

U.S. officials imposed sanctions on Russia’s two largest lenders, which together hold more than half of the country’s banking assets, and 90 of their foreign subsidiaries on Thursday, hours after Russian forces launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine from three directions. Click here to read the full article.


Britain, EU and US Impose New Sanctions on Russia, Threaten Additional Measures

British, EU and US officials targeted Boris Rotenberg, center, and other Russian oligarchs with sanctions on Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022, following Russia’s latest invasion of Ukrainian territory. Click here to read the full article.


BitMEX’s Billionaire Founder Sues to Obtain SARs Filed on Him

A former cryptocurrency executive charged with money laundering in the U.S. has petitioned a U.K. court to compel Wise, a local e-money provider, to give him access to three suspicious activity reports the company filed on him in Britain, and any personal data it collected. Click here to read the full article.


EXCLUSIVE: Ex-FATF Leader Breaks Silence on Resignation, Claims Group Does Not Spur ‘Meaningful’ AML Reform

The former top official of the Financial Action Task Force said he left the post this month because of a perceived lack of support from the group’s president and frustration with its scant success in spurring fundamental improvements to nations’ efforts against illicit finance. Click here to read the full article.


Acts, Action Plans and Penalties: AML in 2021

If 2020 somehow failed to darken your doorstep, enter 2021, which began with a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and deadly winter storm in Texas; witnessed the Taliban’s return to power and democratic norms continue to fray across the world; and saw casualties mount and supply chains buckle amid a resurgent global pandemic. Click here to read the full article.