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The V&E Report
Insights in Government Enforcement and Investigations

Where in the World Is Dirty Money Going? FinCEN’s Newest Investigation Unit Targets Global Money Laundering

The Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) recently announced the launch of a Global Investigations Division (“GID”). GID will focus its efforts on implementing targeted investigation strategies to combat money laundering and terrorism financing in domestic and international contexts.

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“Panama Papers” Case Reminds How to Protect Against Inadvertently Waiving Attorney-Client Privilege

Recent efforts by the Department of Justice to obtain confidential attorney-client communications in connection with a “Panama Papers” indictment present a stark reminder that lawyers and clients must fastidiously protect the attorney-client privilege else their communications may be compromised and used against them at trial. In an age where the threat from hackers stealing and disseminating confidential information is all too real, prosecutors still will be restricted from accessing and using such materials in their investigation provided you and your clients know what steps to take to protect against an inadvertent waiver of privilege.

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With Bipartisan Support, the Illicit Cash Act Aims to Modernize Anti-Money Laundering Efforts

A promising anti-money laundering bill offers a suite of updates to the current AML regime. It would decrease unnecessary regulations, target shell companies, raise incentives for whistleblowers, and sweep digital currencies into the definition of “monetary instruments.” The proposal is called the Improving Laundering Laws and Increasing Comprehensive Information Tracking of Criminal Activity in Shell Holdings Act (or “ILLICIT CASH Act”).

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Regulators Dislike Facebook’s Entry into Cryptocurrency Market, Calling “Libra” an AML Threat

A month after announcing its new global digital currency “Libra,” Facebook is finding itself under increased scrutiny with U.S. regulators. Lawmakers and senior government officials are raising concerns about how Libra would comply with money laundering, terrorism financing, and trade sanctions laws. While Facebook says it will comply with the laws, the company has offered no concrete ideas on how a semi-anonymous digital cryptocurrency could fit within a legal landscape designed around traditional financial institutions.

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Do Bitcoin ATMs Make Money Laundering too Easy? Regulators Try to Keep up with Emerging Cryptocurrency Trend

Law enforcement agencies have warned that digital currencies, like Bitcoin, are easily used by criminals to launder the proceeds of illegal activities. In the past, buying and selling Bitcoin was technically complex, with limited opportunities for converting physical currency into digital currency without detection. With the recent advent of Bitcoin ATMs, however, converting ill-gotten cash into Bitcoin, or Bitcoin into cash, is now as convenient as visiting an ordinary ATM. More than 3,300 Bitcoin ATMs are in the United States, out of 5,000 worldwide.1

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FINRA Gives Broker-Dealers New Tips for Spotting Fraud and Money Laundering

On May 6, 2019, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued Regulatory Notice 19-18 to help broker-dealers recognize and report potential fraud and money laundering. The notice does not alter the current reporting requirements for broker-dealers, but rather provides practical advice by citing 97 red flags that could signal suspicious trading activity.

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