The number of fines issued by HMRC overall actually dropped by nearly 9% last year (down from £3 million in 2020/21). However, despite this overall drop, two particular industries saw enormous increases in the number of fines issued: accountancy service providers and estate agency businesses.
Within the companies surveyed, the top two AML weaknesses were identified as document collection for individuals and companies (27%) and staff training (29%). On top of this, a number of those surveyed also had concerns around budgeting for AML compliance during a recession (23%).
Germany's new federal crime agency is meant to bundle and develop expertise and focus on what the ministry calls a “follow-the-money approach.” To do this, the agency will be closely integrated with the Financial Intelligence Unit, to which suspicious transactions are first reported.
According to the latest publicly available data, the total number of businesses signing up to HMRC’s AML register increased 0.9% from the financial year 2020-21 to 2021-22. This was driven by a significant increase in the number of letting agents and art dealers registering for AML supervision.
Estimates suggest that cybercriminals have stolen more than $100 million worth of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) within the past year. Added to this, criminals have also indulged in other NFT-related scams, such as the use of digital asset mixers in NFT money laundering. As such, collectors need to take proactive measures to keep their assets secure.
Cross-chain bridges can hold hundreds of millions of dollars of assets in escrow. Plus, because they multiply their possible vectors of attack by operating across two or more blockchains, they become prime targets for hackers.
The Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Act focuses on property ownership. At its core, it recognizes that layers of secrecy and foreign-owned companies allow individuals to bypass sanctions by hiding the true ownership of property in the UK.
The latest development in the country’s relationship with crypto assets recently emerged when major real estate developers in the country announced that they would start accepting payments in bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH).
When the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (5MLD) was introduced in January 2020, the UK-based regulator received a flood of applications from crypto service providers. However, only 13% of applications under the regime have made it through the process in the last two years.
By seizing £27m in cryptoassets in 2021-22, it’s clear that the UK’s criminal and regulatory authorities are gaining a deeper understanding of cryptoassets and are developing an appetite to take enforcement action against stolen or laundered cryptoassets.
At present, financial institutions such as banks are required to investigate their clients and their sources of wealth or funds. But, until now, many other financial gatekeepers have been exempted from so-called ‘due diligence rules’.
If new legislation passes, it will mean that all NFT marketplaces will have to assess the risk of illicit finance flowing through their systems and carry out identity checks on new customers and suspicious transactions.