TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL LAUNCH ASSET RECOVERY PAPER: 'CLOSING DOWN THE SAFE HAVENS: ENDING IMPUNITY FOR CORRUPT INDIVIDUALS BY SEIZING AND RECOVERING THEIR ASSETS IN THE UK'

Transparency International have launched a policy paper entitled 'Closing down the safe havens: ending impunity for corrupt individuals by seizing and recovering their assets in the UK'. The TI-UK paper highlights the need to review the overall strategic approach in the UK to asset recovery, stating that pro-activity, de-politicisation and an unrestricted approach to potential cases are the principles that should guide change in the UK.

DONALD TOON APPOINTED AS DIRECTOR OF NCA ECONOMIC CRIME COMMAND

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has published a press release announcing the appointment of Donald Toon, HMRC Director of Criminal Investigation, as director of the NCA's Economic Crime Command (ECC). The ECC is one of the four distinct commands of the NCA, which became fully operational in October 2013.

NEW NCA SAR GUIDANCE

The NCA has published a new guidance note from the United Kingdom Financial Intelligence Unit (UKFIU) on submitting a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR) within the regulated sector. This provides additional guidance on the type of information which the NCA finds useful in a SAR and other practical issues relating to SAR submission.

FCA FINES BANK OVER MONEY LAUNDERING CONTROLS

The FCA has fined a bank in respect of its anti-money laundering policies and procedures concerning customers connected to politically exposed persons ('PEPs'). Guidance issued by the Joint Money Laundering Steering Group provides that where a corporate customer is known to be linked to a PEP, this will be likely to put the customer into a higher risk category, requiring the application of enhanced due diligence measures. This is the first anti-money laundering case the FCA (or the FSA before it) has brought in respect of a commercial banking activity and also the first to be brought under the FCA's new penalty regime, which applies to breaches committed after 6 March 2010.

EUROPE

IMPLEMENTATION OF GENEVA INTERIM NUCLEAR AGREEMENT WITH IRAN

In November, Iran and the P5+1 group (United States, UK, France, Russia, China plus Germany) reached an interim agreement whereby Iran would freeze part of its nuclear program in exchange for a limited relaxation of sanctions (for a full explanation, please see our sanctions briefing here). The Joint Plan of Action was implemented on 20 January 2014, with both the US Department of State and the UK foreign secretary, William Hague issuing statements to welcome the agreement.

COMPROMISE PROPOSAL FOR MLD IV

The European Council has published a second compromise proposal for the Fourth Money Laundering Directive (MLD IV) (a partial compromise was published in September 2013).

SWIFT ANNOUNCES KYC REGISTRY AND DEDICATED FINANCIAL CRIME COMPLIANCE UNIT

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) has announced it is developing a global Know Your Customer (KYC) Registry which will be launched in 2014. The Registry will help banks to manage compliance challenges and reduce the high costs associated with implementing KYC-related regulations. The new service will provide banks with access to a central repository of up-to- date institutional information collected by SWIFT from participating banks.