April news round up

Elevate your Compliance with Intelect Group. Our monthly round up of news items which are of particular relevance to those businesses regulated for the purposes of Anti-Money Laundering.

We prevent bad things happening to good people and their businesses.

Cyber Security

China reported to be targeting UK voters

Information about 40 million UK voters has been stolen by Chinese spies that also targeted elected officials.

The attack on the Electoral Commission was carried out in August 2021, discovered in October 2022, and publicly acknowledged in 2023. Hackers were reported to have accessed electoral registers with the names and addresses of anyone registered to vote in the UK between 2014 and 2022.

Politicians’ email accounts are also understood to have been accessed via ‘phishing’ attacks.

China is reported to have dismissed the allegations.

A reminder to us all that when data is in the hands of large organisations a successful attack can have a huge impact.


Financial Crime

Have bags will travel

In a world where technology runs just about everything it’s easy to forget that the old ways of moving money around still exist. In this case, suitcases full of it!

Abdullah Alfalasi was found guilty of money laundering in 2022.

Profits believed to originate from drug dealing were transported by a network of couriers to the United Arab Emirates. Suitcases carrying cash ranging from thousands or even millions of pounds were vacuum wrapped. The couriers even used business class to increase their baggage allowance and possibly thinking they would attract less scrutiny.

The investigation conducted by the UK National Crime Agency led to asset seizures which included, savings and investments in Emirati banks, properties in the UAE, cryptocurrency funds in a Binance account, three vehicles including a Mercedes G63, a Ford truck and a Toyota Yaris, plus other luxury goods.

Alfalasi was sentenced to nine years imprisonment and has now been issued with a confiscation order of over £3m.



Sanctions evasion

The U.S. Treasury announced on the 25th March on that it had imposed sanctions on Russian financial services and technology players, including blockchain firm Atomyze.

It appears that the company have been developing and offering services in virtual assets aimed at evading the sanctions on Russia.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has designated 13 entities and two individuals in its latest round of sanctions.

Five of the entities were designated for being owned or controlled by persons already sanctioned by OFAC.

Atomyze, is a fintech firm controlled by sanctioned Russian billionaire Vladimir Potanin’s Interros Holding investment group. The company won Russia’s first government license to issue and exchange digital financial assets in February 2022, three weeks before Russian forces invaded Ukraine.

Other companies put on the list include fintech firm Lighthouse, which in June 2022 executed the first cash-backed Russian digital asset deal.


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