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Weekly NewsWatch

A weekly round-up of industry news surrounding financial crime, money laundering and terrorist financing from South Africa and beyond.

VBS looting kingpin pleads guilty to 33 charges as part of agreement
The man described as the kingpin behind the brazen looting of more than R1.9 billion from the VBS Mutual Bank has pleaded guilty to 33 charges.
SARB imposes R13m administrative sanctions on life insurer Safrican
The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) has imposed administrative sanctions of R13 million on Safrican Insurance Company (Safrican) as a result of its non-compliance with the provisions of the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) Act.
DBS HK fined US$1.28m for anti-money laundering, review lapses
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is fining DBS HK$10m for contraventions against its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing ordinance (AMLO).
SA’s ability to deal with financing of terror in the spotlight
SA’s ability to secure its borders, issue identification documents and to minimise the abuse of its territory and economic infrastructure to finance acts of terror elsewhere on the continent is getting weaker.
Manipulated trade documents used in money laundering cases, UAE reports
UAE authorities received several hundred reports of trade-based money laundering (TBML) in 2022 and 2023, with forged trade documents and phantom shipments widely used to conceal the movement of illicit funds.
Warning over ‘synthetic’ identity theft in South Africa
Criminals are creating synthetic identities by blending real personal details with fabricated information—a trend that has been further exacerbated by technological advancements.
South Africa set to remain on FATF greylist until 2025, Treasury confirms progress
National Treasury has announced that South Africa is not expected to exit the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) greylist before June next year, aligning with the action plan deadlines set by the global watchdog.
Austrian regulators fine Raiffeisen for money laundering lapses
Austrian regulators fined Raiffeisen Bank International (RBIV.VI), for lapses in its money laundering controls, imposing a record fine of just over 2 million euros ($2.1 million).
FSCA’s Regulatory Actions Report shows impressive numbers of enforcement
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) report details a number of enforcement interventions, including 156 debarments, 104 public warnings, 41 enforceable undertakings, the suspension of 1 061 licences and the withdrawal of 75 licences.
US charges 193 people in $2.7bn healthcare fraud crackdown
Nearly 200 people have been charged in a sweeping nationwide crackdown on healthcare fraud schemes with false claims topping $2.7bn, the United States Department of Justice has said.
IEC Commissioner Dr Nomsa Masuku arrested for R1.2m fraud, granted bail
IEC Commissioner Dr Nomsa Masuku appeared in court facing fraud charges relating to R1.2-million that made its way to her account during her previous role at Standard Bank.
Two Joburg police officers get 10 years for R14 000 extortion
Two police officers have found themselves on the wrong side of the law after they were caught and sentenced for extorting R14 000 from a Rivonia business owner.
Puerto Rico sues former officials accused of corruption to recover more than $30M in public funds
Puerto Rico’s Justice Department announced it is suing at least 30 former government officials accused of corruption to recover more than $30 million in public funds.
A bitter pill: Doctor found guilty of failing to pay tax on R17 million income
A doctor in the Northern Cape has been found guilty of eight counts of failure to submit personal income tax returns and 42 counts of failure to submit value-added tax returns.
Ex-Trump associate Felix Sater loses money-laundering trial
Felix Sater, the Moscow-born deal maker who was once part of Donald Trump’s inner circle, lost a civil trial in which he was accused of helping a wealthy Kazakh man launder millions of dollars through US property including condos at the Trump SoHo tower.
US announces major bust as efforts to crack down on Chinese money launderers working with drug cartels ratchet up
US prosecutors touted a major breakthrough in a crackdown against Chinese money laundering networks they say are working with Mexican drug cartels, announcing charges against 24 people for allegedly taking part in a scheme to launder more than $50 million in drugs.
12 Home Affairs officials fired after passport fraud
A massive criminal syndicate of allegedly corrupt Department of Home Affairs officials has been uncovered after 12 of them were fired for passport related crimes across the country.
Mpumalanga businessman arrested after attempting to avoid 75 financial charges
Police apprehended the alleged fraudster after he was found in contempt of court after not honouring an appearance in early June.
Binance fined $2.25 million for AML violations in India
Binance, the world’s leading blockchain and cryptocurrency platform, has been slapped with a hefty fine of Rs 18.82 crore ($2.25 million) by India’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) for failing to comply with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.
R23.5m was laundered through account linked to Nafiz Modack, court told
In less than three years, R23.5-million was allegedly laundered through the account of Empire Investment Cars, which prosecutors have claimed was a front for criminal activity on the part of Nafiz Modack.
Sars employees nabbed for R600 million fraud to appear in court
The group face charges of fraud, money laundering, contravening the Tax Administration Act, contravening the Customs and Excise Act, and contravention of the Prevention of Organised Crime Act.
Latest accused in KPMG fraud case worked for presidency
Dikeledi Moema, who has become the latest accused in the KPMG fraud and money laundering case for allegedly receiving almost R560,000 from her accused son, is a former high-level bureaucrat.
Blocked from tax returns and threats of fines and jail time – SARS warns of new scam
The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has issued an alert about a new scam that is making the rounds ahead of tax season 2024, which opens for individual taxpayers next month.
Dramatic betrayal unfolds as alleged swindler Matthew Dunn evades justice
It is a betrayal of dramatic proportions and alleged swindler Matthew Dunn is now wanted by authorities for allegedly defrauding unsuspecting victims, including his family, out of millions of rand.
FIU fines Axis Bank Rs 1.66 cr for failing to detect fraud NSG account
The Financial Intelligence Unit has slapped a fine of more than Rs 1.66 crore on Axis Bank for "failing" to put in place a mechanism to detect and report suspicious transactions carried out at one of its branches.
Zizi Kodwa resigns as Sports, Arts and Culture Minister
This was revealed following his appearance at Palm Ridge Magistrate’s Court in connection with allegations that he received R1.6 million in bribes during his time as State Security Deputy Minister.
Latest accused in KPMG fraud case worked for presidency
Dikeledi Moema, who has become the latest accused in the KPMG fraud and money laundering case for allegedly receiving almost R560,000 from her accused son, is a former high-level bureaucrat.
Epoch Times executive arrested over alleged $67m money laundering scheme
A top executive at the Epoch Times, a New York-based conservative media outlet known for its fierce criticism of the Chinese government, has been arrested over his alleged involvement in a money laundering scheme.
SA fingered as a major transit hub for illegal gold exports with a tally of R657bn
Swissaid has shone the spotlight on South Africa for its role as a major transit hub for illegal bullion exports from the region with over $35 billion (R657bn) worth of gold smuggled out of Africa.
British bank accused of helping to fund terrorists
A British bank that escaped prosecution for money laundering carried out billions of dollars of transactions for funders of terrorist groups, US court papers allege.
BHI’s Craig Warriner nailed for 25 years by FSCA forensic audit
BHI Trust mastermind Craig Warriner was sentenced in the Palm Ridge Commercial Crimes court to 25 years behind bars for fraud and operating an investment scheme without a licence.
Alleged Ponzi scheme masterminds have assets worth R59m attached
Various assets estimated to be worth more than R59m, belonging to the suspects of an elaborate Ponzi scheme, were attached after a restraint order was granted by the Johannesburg high court.
Woman jailed for laundering bitcoin in R120bn fraud case with 130 000 alleged victims
A woman accused of converting bitcoin into cash and property to help hide the proceeds of a £5 billion (approximately R120 billion) fraud was jailed for nearly seven years for money laundering after a trial in a London court.
South Africa's central bank fines SBI over compliance
The Prudential Authority, South Africa’s central bank, has imposed administrative sanctions and a penalty on SBI for violating anti-money laundering laws in the country.
Chinese national charged with operating 'world’s largest botnet' linked to billions in cybercrimes
A Chinese national has been arrested for his role in operating a residential proxy service that was used to defraud billions of dollars from the U.S. government and fund his lavish lifestyle, which included buying luxury cars and property around the world.
SA banks concerned by APP fraud
South African banks continue to battle social engineering, with more than half of the respondents of a recent industry survey saying APP fraud is their greatest cause for concern.
FSCA revokes licence of The Wealth Strategist
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has withdrawn the licence of The Wealth Strategist (Pty) Ltd.
SkyCity to pay $4m after admitting breaches of anti-money laundering, counter-terrorism laws
Casino operator SkyCity has reached a settlement with the Department of Internal Affairs over breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
Counterfeit currency raining on DRC as lucrative money-spinner for organised crime
The DRC is an origin, transit and destination country for counterfeit currency, most of which is US dollar-denominated.
German regulator fines N26 Bank over late money laundering reports
Germany's financial regulator has imposed a fine of 9.2 million euros ($10.00 million) on online bank N26 after finding that the bank had in 2022 systematically been late in filing reports of suspected money laundering.
‘Crisis mafias’ are thriving in South Africa
Water mafias are spreading across the country, sabotaging the already ailing infrastructure to cash in, while similar mafias already operate in the electricity and construction industries.
Court sentences man who defrauded SARS over R955,000 and bought a Mercedes
The 62-year-old was found guilty of fraud, theft, money laundering, and contravening the provisions of the Tax Administration Act.
US brothers arrested for stealing $25m in crypto in just 12 seconds
Two brothers who studied at one of the most prestigious universities in the US have been charged with stealing $25m (£20m) in cryptocurrency in 12 seconds.
Terrorist groups suspected of channelling funds into Dubai real estate: Report
A large amount of real estate transactions in Dubai is suspected to involve people associated with groups subjected to US sanctions for their alleged ties to terrorist organisations like the Hezbollah and Houthi rebels.
Urgent co-operation needed to fight money laundering and terrorist financing
Countries need to urgently step up their efforts to target the huge illicit profits generated by transnational organised crime that facilitate conflicts, fund terrorism, and negatively impact vulnerable populations.
Dodgy connections: Eskom has lost over R203bn to corruption since 2018
A lack of maintenance, proper governance, and corruption has left power utility Eskom in critical condition.
amaBhungane | The ANC, the megachurch, and the money flows through 'God's Laundry'
More than R2 million of ANC-linked money may have flowed to Eswatini's Deputy Prime Minister, #SwaziSecrets leaks suggest.
Report: Over $2.6bn illicit funds funnelled into US real estate from other countries
A new report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) in conjunction with the FACT Coalition and the Anti-Corruption Data Collective has identified 25 cases in which illicit or suspicious funds were funnelled into commercial property in the United States over the past 20 years, from different countries of the world.
Athletics SA boss may face prosecution for Lottery corruption
A senior Athletics South Africa (ASA) executive, after repaying nearly R400,000 he had used to pay for personal expenses from a dodgy multimillion-rand Lottery grant, could still face prosecution.
Swiss-Asia Financial Services fined S$2.5 million for breaches of anti-money laundering rules
Wealth and fund management company Swiss-Asia Financial Services (SAFS) was issued a composition penalty of S$2.5 million for breaching the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) requirements.
Cannabis entrepreneur and associates face R70m fraud charges
A cannabis entrepreneur and his business associates are facing a case of fraud for allegedly swindling a group of investors out of a staggering R70-million meant for a business venture to produce and sell medical grade cannabis to the overseas market.
Nsfas losing over R21m a year to corruption
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) has lost more than R128.5 million since 2017 to fraud and/or maladministration.
WhatsApp scam: More than 100 arrested in Spain for 'son in trouble' fraud
More than 100 people have been arrested in Spain accused of stealing thousands of euros from WhatsApp users by claiming to be relatives in distress.
Thai man locked up for alleged human trafficking
A Thai national, who is in South Africa illegally, was remanded by the Germiston Magistrate’s Court after being charged with trafficking in persons.
Binance founder is sentenced to four months in prison on money laundering violations
Changpeng Zhao, the founder of the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, was sentenced to four months in prison after pleading guilty last year to charges that he failed to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program.

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