Today’s News: What’s Stalling Switzerland?

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BNP fine sparks calls for cultural change
Financial Times, July 2, 2014

By Martin Arnold and Kara Scannell

Equity investors may have shrugged off BNP Paribas’s record $9bn fine for breaching sanctions on Sudan, Iran and Cuba, but the bank still faces calls from other quarters for more senior executives to be held responsible.

Shares in France’s biggest bank by market value rose 4 per cent on Tuesday, even after it agreed a legal settlement for what Preet Bharara, US attorney for Manhattan, described as its “criminal support of countries and entities engaged in acts of terrorism and other atrocities”.

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Illicit Financial Flows

Regional integrated tax systems needed to curb illicit financial flows
New Vision (Uganda), July 2, 2014

By Patrick Jaramogi

Africa’s leading economists and trade analysts noted that the rampant ‘illicit financial flows’ was paying a heavy toll in draining and crippling of the African economies.

“Illicit financial flow” is the secret and illegal movement or transfer of money from one jurisdiction to another. The term also refers to money that leaves the continent instead of being used to finance development.

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The days of banking blind are long gone
Moneyweb (South Africa), July 2, 2014

By Hanna Barry

The effectiveness of controls implemented by banks to stop money laundering and terrorist financing are coming under increasing scrutiny from global regulators, as ever more rights-aware societies push to see financial criminals, among them corrupt bankers, behind bars.

This means that the days of “banking blind” are over, Martin Woods, a financial crime officer at information service provider Thomson Reuters, recently told Moneyweb.

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After BNP, U.S. targets range of firms in crackdown on illicit money flows
Reuters (UK), June 1, 2014

By Auna Viswahantha

BNP Paribas’ guilty plea and agreement to pay nearly $9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions is part of a larger U.S. Justice Department shift in strategy that is expected to snare more major banks and other firms across the financial food chain.

Two other major French banks, Credit Agricole CAGR.PA and Societe Generale SOGN.PA, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG DBKGn.DE, and Banamex USA, the U.S. arm of Citigroup Inc’s C.N Mexican banking group Banamex, are among those being investigated for possible money laundering or sanctions violations, according to people familiar with the matter and public disclosures.

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Money Laundering

Singapore Says More Overseas Criminals Seek Bank Accounts
Bloomberg (US), July 2, 2014

By Andrea Tan

Singapore prosecuted a record number of money laundering cases and seized more than S$115 million ($92 million) of suspected criminal proceeds in 2013 as more overseas offenders seek out bank accounts in the city.

“Singapore’s openness as an international transport hub and financial center exposes it to cross-border money-laundering and terrorist financing risks,” Tan Boon Gin, director of the Commercial Affairs Department, said in the agency’s annual report posted on its website. “We are seeing a trend of overseas criminals seeking to launder money through Singapore bank accounts.”

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Will the EU’s new anti-money laundering rules have teeth?
EU Observer (EU), July 2, 2014

By Koen Roovers

For months, Ukraine’s political situation has made headlines. Many Ukrainians believe the turmoil is a direct consequence of a shady concoction of political cronyism and financial secrecy that allegedly allowed those close to power to funnel billions out of the country.

Investigations by journalists and anti-corruption activists have documented, for example, how the presidential palace compound, presidential planes, hunting lodges and palaces in Crimea have been owned by European companies that are set up to obscure who really profits from these assets.

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Terrorist Financing

Turkey fights against financing of terrorism
Trend News Agency (Azerbaijan), July 2, 2014

Turkey made a high-level political commitment to work with the Financial Action Task Force to fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, the country´s finance minister said on Tuesday, Anadolu Agency reported.

Mehmet Simsek said in a statement that the task force, whose regulations came into effect in 2010, changed Turkey´s rating to the grey list from the dark grey list resulting in a reduction in the cost and time of global financial transactions which would benefit business people in the country.

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‘No political will’ to fight corruption
Cyprus Mail (Cyprus), July 2, 2014

By Constantinos Psillides

The Inland Revenue Department (IRD) had knowledge of the illegal activities of corrupted state officials for the last 25 years but failed to act on it because a committee on capital statements was never set up, according to House Ethics Committee chairman Phidias Sarikas.

Following a committee discussion on the illicit enrichment of public sector employees, Sarikas told the press that legislation was never implemented due to lack of political will.

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Malaysia’s corruption rankings can’t improve until government gets serious, says Kit Siang
Malay Mail (Malaysia), July 2, 2014

Malaysia’s steady decline in a key measure on tracking corruption cannot be addressed until Putrajaya is serious on tackling graft, DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang said.

Other than fanciful statements, the government has done little to combat corruption, he added.

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Xi Jinping’s Corruption Purge: Cleansing With A Hint Of Politics
International Business Times, July 1, 2014

By Matt Schiavenza

Chinese president Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign — the central focus of his domestic policy so far — has snared its biggest prize yet: On Monday, China announced the expulsion of Xu Caihou, a retired top-level military officer, from the Communist Party. Xu is accused of accepting bribes in order to grant military promotions. A former vice minister of the Central Military Commission, China’s equivalent of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Xu would be the highest military official purged in China in more than two decades.

But the expulsion has implications beyond corruption. Remarkably early in his tenure begun in early 2013, Xi has also consolidated control of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s largest armed force. Xi has pledged to modernize China’s military by strengthening the PLA’s navy and air force, both seen as crucial components of China’s quest to defend what it perceives as territorial possessions in the East and South China Sea. The purge of such a high-ranking official can be seen as Xi’s latest personal stamp on the 2.3 million member organization.

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