Weekly NewsWatch

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

Crooked accountant sentenced to 135 years for R11 million Covid-19 relief fund fraud
A crooked accountant who defrauded the Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) during the Covid-19 pandemic for R11 million was sentenced to 135 years imprisonment.
97 public officials implicated for roles in corruption cases
The Fusion Centre made 97 referrals for disciplinary and executive action to be taken against public officials in government departments and state owned entities, for their role in corruption cases.
Former president of Mauritania gets 5-year prison sentence for corruption
A Mauritanian court handed down a five-year prison sentence to the country's former President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz after finding him guilty of money laundering and self-enrichment.
kykNET TV presenter, two others in court accused of swindling more than R30m from steelworks company
kykNET TV presenter Henriëtte Marx, as well as her husband and an associate of theirs, appeared in the Pretoria Commercial Crimes Court for fraud, theft and money laundering.
RBC handed $7.4M penalty from financial intelligence agency
Canada's financial intelligence agency said it imposed a $7.4-million penalty against the Royal Bank of Canada for non-compliance with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing measures.
Former Fair Cape Dairies CFO faces 170 fraud charges for alleged theft of R23 million
The former Chief Financial Officer of Fair Cape Dairies has appeared in the Cape Town Magistrate’s Court where he faces over 170 fraud charges.
Scam warning: Local and international regulators call out GS Partners
The Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) has issued an alert, highlighting that almost 10 jurisdictions have published warnings relating to GS Partners.
Leader of drug trafficking and money laundering organisation with ties to mexican cartel sentenced to 25 years in prison
A co-ordinator for a large-scale international fentanyl trafficking and money laundering conspiracy, operating on behalf of the Sinaloa Cartel in Mexico, was sentenced in federal court in Boston.
National Treasury welcomes latest Financial Action Task Force progress report
National Treasury welcomes the latest Financial Action Task Force (FATF) progress report, which indicates positive progress made by South Africa in addressing technical compliance deficiencies in its anti-money laundering system.
Six sent for trial in connection with international terrorism financing probe
Four men and two women arrested in Dublin for money laundering and international terrorism financing have been sent forward for trial on 200 charges.
PetroSA pushes for R3.7bn deal with Russia’s Gazprombank despite concerns over partnership
Russia’s Gazprombank – currently under US sanctions – is PetroSA’s preferred choice to refurbish the gas-to-liquids refinery in Mossel Bay, at a cost of R3.7-billion.
Hackers demand $60m from TransUnion, Experian for 'new' SA data theft
Two of the country’s largest consumer credit reporting agencies, TransUnion and Experian, may have been hit by a fresh data hack.
Bulgarian citizen pleads guilty to international money laundering and fraud scheme
Stefan Chernev admitted that he worked with his brother, Ivan Chernev, and a third co-conspirator to form shell companies, most of which had a variation of “Yellow Pages” in their name.
Feds seize $9 million in illicit cryptocurrency deposits from Silicon Valley cyber scam organisation
Federal agents seized $9 million worth of cryptocurrency linked to a cyber scam organisation that has exploited more than 70 victims.
Binance and CEO plead guilty to federal charges in $4B resolution
Binance admits it engaged in anti-money laundering, unlicensed money transmitting, and sanctions violations.
Standard Chartered admits to rand rigging, agrees to pay fine of R42.7m
Standard Chartered has become another commercial bank that admitted wrongdoing and agreed to pay a penalty to the Competition Commission.
Fighting corruption? Really? President Ramaphosa could start today — but he won’t
While our political leaders make a continuous stream of promises to end corruption, the evidence of such action is virtually non-existent.
Man laundered about S$450,000 in scam proceeds through Singapore to China, gets jail
A Singapore permanent resident originally from China helped launder more than S$450,000 in investment scam proceeds.
How 'kingpin' ran Eskom prepaid voucher scam
The alleged kingpin of the Eskom prepaid electricity voucher scam, who is unemployed and owns no business, received cash deposits totalling more than over R6.1m from unexplained income sources.
Bradenton woman sentenced for investment fraud, money laundering
A Bradenton woman has been sentenced for investment fraud and money laundering sending her to federal prison and forcing her to forfeit expensive items and nearly $10 million.
Fraud and corruption cost Mpumalanga licensing department R28m
In just four days in October, the Mpumalanga department of community safety, security and liaison lost R28m due to fraud and corruption in the licensing department.
Relief in crypto world over Bankman-Fried conviction
New York jury found Bankman-Fried, known as "SBF," guilty of all seven counts against him, including fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.
António Costa’s alleged corruption linked to green minerals precipitates political crisis in Portugal
The crisis in Portugal, catalysed by the resignation of its prime minister, highlights the prevalence of corruption in the midst of the surge for so-called critical minerals, often referred to as green minerals.
Costa Rica arrests eight bank employees in probe of $6 million heist
Costa Rican authorities detained eight employees from the country's largest commercial bank in connection to the theft of more than $6 million, the biggest crime in the bank's 109-year history.
Allegations of R500 million bribery scandal rock South African cabinet
Thuja Capital Fund CEO Mthunzi Mdwaba made damning allegations against Thulas Nxesi, saying that officials acting on behalf of three Cabinet ministers attempted to solicit a 10% kickback from the irregular R5 billion deal.
Cocaine, gold and money laundering – Irish cartel’s ‘fingerprints’ lifted in SA
An international Irish-origin drug trafficking and money laundering cartel, with links to the boxing industry, may be operating via South Africa.
South Africa to stay greylisted until 2025
Despite some progress in addressing its compliance with the global anti-money laundering watchdog, South Africa has come up short in the investigation and prosecution of money laundering and terror financing cases.
Bank insider charged with accepting bribes to facilitate millions of dollars of money laundering
A New Jersey-based employee of an international financial institution was arrested for accepting bribes to facilitate millions of dollars of money laundering.
North Korea closes multiple embassies around the world
North Korea’s recent closing of its diplomatic missions was a sign that the reclusive country is struggling to make money overseas because of international sanctions, South Korea’s unification ministry said.
Criminals and sanctions-busters exploiting UK secrecy loophole
An offshore firm helped create companies used by members of Vladimir Putin's inner circle, including one hiding the late mercenary boss Yevgeny Prigozhin's yacht.
President Chakwera embroiled in money laundering scandal involving South African fugitive who was granted ‘asylum’ in Malawi
Court documents have revealed that the Office of the President and Cabinet (OPC) allowed Willem Steenkamp, a notorious South African fugitive facing fraud and money laundering charges, to invest $20 million (approximately K22 billion) in Malawi.
Conflict-riddled Nelson Mandela Bay places city manager on precautionary suspension
Following an emergency council meeting, Nelson Mandela Bay’s city manager, Dr Noxolo Nqwazi, was placed on precautionary suspension with full pay.
Former Albanian prime minister says he's charged with corruption and money laundering in land deal
Albania’s former prime minister Sali Berisha says prosecutors have charged him with corruption and money laundering in connection with a land deal involving a Tirana property.
Saudi Arabia jails seven in SR1.3 billion money laundering case
A Saudi court has convicted seven people, including an Arab expatriate, on charges of money laundering of more than SR1 billion and handed them varying imprisonment sentences reaching 13 years for some defendants.
Australian police charge seven with laundering hundreds of millions for Chinese crime syndicate
The arrests came after a 14-month investigation that involved multiple Australian agencies and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
California lawyer sentenced to six years in prison for racketeering conspiracy, mail fraud, and multiple conspiracy counts.
David Jess Miller was sentenced to serve 72 months in prison for his role in a variety of crimes stemming from conspiracies involving racketeering, mail and wire fraud, and money laundering, in addition to substantive mail fraud and conspiracy against the United States.
FSCA cracks the enforcement whip … 1 668 times
It's been a busy year for the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA), with 1 668 enforcement actions related to regulatory compliance over the past financial year – a third more than in 2022.
Spain: More than 400 animals rescued from illegal trading network
The gang is suspected of illegally importing animals into Spain from eastern Europe via Andorra before selling them on to make a profit.
amaBhungane | #MotiFiles: Inside VBS’s R1.3-billion gold-fuelled 'hawala'
Between late 2016 and up to the collapse of VBS Mutual Bank in March 2018, a colossal hawala scheme seemingly operated through three VBS accounts, receiving and rapidly paying out roughly R1.3 billion to a wide array of South African companies and individuals.
Hawks swoop on ‘accomplice’ in R5m church pension fund theft
The Hawks have arrested an alleged accomplice in the laundering of R5m stolen from the Dutch Reformed Church pension fund.
AFU freezes millions in assets related to alleged PPE corruption case
The National Prosecuting Authority’s (NPA) Asset Forfeiture Unit has obtained a preservation order against assets related to a PPE matter worth R27 million in the Northern Cape.
Former municipal manager in court for 'unlawful sale' of municipal land
Former municipal manager of the Mahikeng Local Municipality, Henry Smit, has appeared in the Molopo Magistrate’s Court on charges related to the unlawful sale of municipal land to the value of R144 million.
India’s Bank of Baroda exposé worsens: Agents steal money from accounts
The Reserve Bank of India has banned BoB from onboarding new customers on its app after an exposé by The Reporters’ Collective-Al Jazeera.
Burundi's sacked central bank chief arrested over money laundering accusations
Burundi's sacked central bank governor has been arrested on suspicion of money laundering and misappropriation of public assets.
RCMP documents detail alleged multi-billion dollar money laundering scheme in GTA
Newly released documents show Canadian involvement in an international investigation of an alleged money laundering ring in the Greater Toronto Area that authorities believe is linked to a man accused of laundering money for terrorists.
Municipality paid R2 million for two laptops
The Hawks arrested a North West district municipal manager and businessman this week after a forensic report implicated them in corruption involving R134 million, including splurging R2 million on two laptops.
Eskom’s broken heart — inside the leaking procurement systems that keep South Africa in the dark
In early July 2023, Daily Maverick was approached by a whistle-blower who claimed to hold significant documentary evidence of corruption and maladministration in Eskom’s ‘informal’ or ‘low-value’ procurement systems.
ADM Investor Services fined for anti-money laundering failures
Britain's Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has fined commodities services broker ADM Investor Services International Limited 6.47 million pounds ($7.9 million) for "inadequate" anti-money laundering systems and controls.
Former HOD of Health in North West implicated in fraud case
The former HOD was brought up on charges of fraud and contraventions of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), the National Prosecuting Authority confirmed.
7 Chinese among 33 arrested by Italian police in multimillion dollar mafia money laundering case
Italian police arrested 33 people in a new crackdown on a network of Chinese money brokers who allegedly laundered over 50 million Euros (US$52.5 million) from drug trafficking groups, including the ‘Ndrangheta mafia.
New Global Organised Crime Index reveals how the Mafia has taken over South Africa
This is according to the 2023 Global Organised Crime Index released on Tuesday that showed that South Africa scored a 7.18 criminality score (out of 10) - the seventh highest in the world (out of 193 countries) and the third in Africa.
Fake government tenders, suppliers fleecing South African businesses of millions
South African businesses have lost, and continue to lose, millions through a procurement scam where con artists impersonate both government departments and suppliers.
Co-founder of global multimillion-dollar cryptocurrency ponzi scheme “AirBit Club” sentenced to 12 years in prison
Pablo Renato Rodriguez, the co-founder of AirBit Club with Gutemberg Dos Santos, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for orchestrating the massive global AirBit Club pyramid scheme.
R295m Rooiwal tender: Edwin Sodi and Tshwane metro to face SIU scrutiny
The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has finally been given the green light by President Cyril Ramaphosa to investigate the R295-million Rooiwal Wastewater Treatment Plant tender linked to state capture-accused businessman Edwin Sodi.
Trump found liable for deceiving businesses, banks in New York fraud suit
A judge has ruled that former United States President Donald Trump committed fraud for years while building the real estate empire that catapulted him to fame.
Malaysian nicknamed the ‘Godfather’ jailed in US for rhino horn trafficking
Teo Boon Ching, a Malaysian wildlife trafficker known by a range of aliases including the Godfather, has been jailed for 18 months in the United States for smuggling hundreds of kilos of horns from endangered rhinoceros.
Company and two directors sentenced for R7-million tax fraud, ordered to pay SARS debt
A company and two of its directors who were involved in the controversial Kimberley Diamond Cup Skateboard Championship (KDC) pleaded guilty to several charges of tax fraud involving R7 million in the Specialised Commercial Crimes Court in Kimberley.
Advocate arrested for allegedly offering prosecutor R50k to make case 'disappear'
A 35-year-old Western Cape advocate has been arrested after he allegedly offered R50 000 to a prosecutor to file representations in favour of his client – or make the State's case "disappear".
Ex-mining boss Johan Breedt who demanded a R600,000 kickback ordered to pay back every cent
A former manager at a mining plant in the Northern Cape who was found guilty of money laundering and corruption has been sentenced to correctional supervision and ordered to pay back every cent.
FTX accuses Bankman-Fried’s parents of siphoning millions
Lawyers for FTX Trading have filed a lawsuit accusing the parents of its founder Sam Bankman-Fried of exploiting their influence over their son to siphon millions of dollars from the company.
Hawks officers arrested for allegedly demanding R400k bribe from Eastern Cape businessman
The sergeant and captain, both in their 40s, will appear in the Mthatha Specialised Commercial Crime Court on Friday morning after they were arrested by their colleagues during an undercover operation on Thursday.
EU to cease sanctions against three Russian businessmen this week, sources say
The European Union will not renew sanctions against three businessmen targeted over Russia's war against Ukraine when the current punitive measures expire this week, four diplomatic sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Advocate arrested for allegedly offering prosecutor R50k to make case 'disappear'
A 35-year-old Western Cape advocate has been arrested after he allegedly offered R50 000 to a prosecutor to file representations in favour of his client – or make the State's case "disappear".
Lazarus Group Blamed For $53m Heist at CoinEx
An infamous threat group connected to the North Korean state has been blamed for a major attack on cryptocurrency exchange CoinEx on Tuesday.
Hawks swoop on ‘online dating scammer’ for swindling victim out of R750,000
A 23-year-old woman who allegedly pocketed R750,000 swindled from a victim of an online dating scam is set to appear in the Bellville specialised commercial crime court together with the alleged kingpin.
Two government officials sentenced in landmark abalone case
Two former government officials have been sentenced for corruption and money laundering linked to the abalone trade.
Hawks arrested 611 people and seized goods worth more than R6bn between April and June
The Hawks arrested 611 people between April and June this year for crimes including fraud, money laundering and drug-related charges, with assets to the value of more than R6 billion being seized.
Swedish investigatory report reveals Spotify as money laundering ‘ATM for criminal gangs’
Criminal gangs in Sweden linked to bombings and shootings in recent years are using fake Spotify streams to launder money, a Swedish investigatory report revealed.
Four convicted in $18m investment fraud scheme
Four men have been found guilty of participating in a global investment fraud and money laundering conspiracy that tricked victims out of over $18m.
Ukraine tycoon arrested for fraud and money laundering during anti-corruption investigation
Ukraine’s main security agency, the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), published a statement handing criminal charges to Ihor Kolomoisky related to money laundering and fraud in his oil and gas holdings.
Big changes for FICA and trusts go live in South Africa
National Treasury and the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) have implemented new laws that bring changes to international transfers and the administration of trusts.
‘Unadulterated claptrap’ — opposition derides SA Reserve Bank’s Phala Phala findings, and legal challenges loom
Opposition MPs described as ‘whitewash’ and ‘unadulterated claptrap’ the South African Reserve Bank finding that no exchange control laws were broken in the Phala Phala scandal.
Saudi Arabia: Expats to stand trial for SR2.4 million money laundering
Investigations showed that the pair had possessed SR2.4 million in cash and deposited it into bank accounts belonging to commercial entities, concealing the origin of this money and its ownership.
New laws bringing big changes for businesses in South Africa – what you need to know
Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel has tabled the new Companies Amendment Bill before parliament, kicking off the process of making the changes for businesses in South Africa law.
Auburn man charged in money laundering scheme that included North Korea
An Auburn man and Russian national face money laundering charges for allegedly operating an unlicensed cryptocurrency transferring business that facilitated money laundering transactions, including for a North Korean cybercrime organisation.

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