Abler's Newsletter - April 2023

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Governor of the Bank of Mauritius at the IMF/World Bank Community of Central Bank Technologists workshop

The theme for this landmark meeting was “The Future of Central Bank Money in a Digital World”. In his keynote address, Mr Harvesh Kumar Seegolam, Governor of the Bank of Mauritius, said: "For us as central bankers, preparing for the future means getting everything right, now itself. Central Bank Digital Currencies – CBDCs as we commonly call them - entail much more than mere digital representations of a central bank currency. CBDCs may have critical implications on both domestic and international economic and financial stability. Like it or not, the fact remains that unexpected frictions inevitably emerge when it comes to designing a CBDC or implementing and operating it.”

Mauritius has strong potential as a reinsurance hub for the African continent, says Financial Services Minister

“Our Government is keenly promoting the Mauritius International Financial Centre as a reinsurance hub as we believe that we have all the ingredients for success”. This statement was made by the Minister of Financial Services and Good Governance, Mr Mahen Kumar Seeruttun, on 27 April, at the Mont Choisy Heritage Zone. He was participating in the second anniversary of Africa Specialty Risks Mauritius (ASR), in the presence of the British High Commissioner to Mauritius, Ms Charlotte Pierre, and the Chief Executive Officer of ASR, Mr Mikir Shah.


UAE Expert Group for AML/CFT deepens engagement with international partners over past six months

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) Expert Group for Anti-Money Laundering and Combatting the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) held several productive meetings with its international counterparts in late 2022 and early 2023. The UAE delegation, coordinated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, also included representatives from the Executive Office for AML/CFT, Central Bank of the UAE, Financial Intelligence Unit of the UAE, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Justice, law enforcement agencies, and the Executive Office for Control and Non-Proliferation.

Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering, Counter Terrorism Financing launches data intelligence project

The Executive Office of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing (EO AML/CTF) has announced the launch of the first phase of a data intelligence project that will automate data management protocols and procedures. Over the course of the project, the EO AML/CTF will adopt the latest technological tools and solutions available globally in information management and data analytics. Hamid Al Zaabi, Director-General of the EO AML/CTF, set out the objectives for phase one at a meeting attended by EO AML/CTF project team members, external consultants, and consortium partners.

UAE issues more than Dh115 million in fines in Q1 of 2023 to combat money laundering

The UAE issued fines of more than Dh115 million ($31.3 million) in the first quarter of the year to combat money laundering. This is a sharp increase from the Dh76 million issued last year. News agency Wam has reported 161 fines were handed out to 76 entities in the first three months of 2023. Confiscations have also increased, with frozen assets surpassing a value of Dh925 million seized from November 2022 to February 2023.


Luxembourg: CSSF mandatory data collection exercise due for submission by 15 June 2023

On 24 March 2023, the Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF) issued a press release requesting certain alternative investment fund managers (AIFMs), management companies (ManCos) of undertakings for collective investments in transferable securities (UCITS) and institutions for occupational retirement provision (ORPs) to participate in the data collection exercise relating to pre-contractual product disclosure information under Regulation (EU) 2019/2088 on sustainability-related disclosures in the financial services sector as amended (SFDR) and Regulation (EU) 2020/852 on the establishment of a framework to facilitate sustainable investment as amended (“Taxonomy Regulation“).

South Africa: Avoiding FICA fiascos – compliance with March 2023 FICA Directives

The South African Department of Finance has published Directive 8 on the compulsory screening of employees for competence and integrity. Failure to comply means that such businesses will risk sanction, including a fine of up to ZAR 50 million. Accountable institutions must record how the screening has been conducted and keep records of the outcome of such screening, which must be made available to the Financial Intelligence Centre upon request. It has been stipulated that screenings should begin as soon as possible.

Singapore High Court holds mere buying and selling of cryptocurrency does not contravene licensing provisions under the Payment Services Act

Singapore High Court in Rio Christofle v Malcolm Tan Chun Chuen [2023] SGHC 66 concludes that the bona fide buying and selling of cryptocurrency without a licence or exemption is not to be a contravention of licensing provisions where there is no “carrying on a business of providing any type of payment service”. Three indicia suggest that a person is carrying on a business of providing a payment service: (1) whether profit has been made; (2) the number of transactions in question; and (3) whether the person is acting as an intermediary.

EU ramps up anti-corruption efforts following Qatargate cash-for-influence scandal

The European Union announced new rules on Wednesday, in response to the alleged cash-for-influence Qatargate scandal in the European Parliament. An initiative involving all 27 member countries and the European Parliament aims to tighten rules after a scandal involving bags of cash and allegedly corrupt lawmakers has rocked the EU’s assembly.

Tighter rules and better enforcement to stop the flow of dirty money

MEPs are set to endorse changes to EU anti-money laundering legislation to help authorities crack down on the illicit flow of money and assets. Plenary will adopt its negotiating mandate for a package of proposals reforming the EU’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) policy. The draft laws foresee new customer due diligence rules for businesses and give Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and other national authorities access to information on beneficial ownership. The new rules would also apply to goods such as yachts, planes and cars worth over €200 000 and goods stored in free zones. At the same time, transparency rules on crowdfunding platforms and anonymous instruments, such as crypto-assets, would be tightened to prevent abuses.

RBI, BIS launch fourth edition of G20 TechSprint competition

The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) have announced the launch of the G20 TechSprint 2023, a global competition aimed at improving cross-border payments through innovative technology solutions.

Indonesia’s measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing

Indonesia has a strong legal framework to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing and is making good use of financial intelligence and domestic and international cooperation. Indonesia needs to focus more on improving asset recovery, risk-based supervision and proportionate and dissuasive sanctions.