Moneyval urges Council of Europe to better combat “dirty money”

Dutch prosecutors investigate ABN AMRO

Dutch lender ABN AMRO said in a press release on 25 September that it is subject to an investigation by the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (OM) for apparent violations of money laundering and terrorism financing laws. 

The bank said that it is fully cooperating with the investigation. 

According to local press, the bank had failed to do sufficient background checks on its customers and failed to report suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit. 

Dutch bank ING paid €775 million in September 2018 to settle OM allegations the bank violated counter terrorism fiancing and money laundering laws. 


Odebrecht misses payment in Dominican Republic bribery settlement

Brazilian construction company Odebrecht has reportedly failed to pay the third instalment of a $180 million leniency agreement it signed with authorities in the Dominican Republic in 2017 for bribing government officials. 

The news that the company missed the July deadline to make the final $32 million payment came to light in a petition filed in a São Paulo bankruptcy court on 17 September.

Odebrecht reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection in June.

Since 2016, Odebrecht has signed settlements in four continents worth billions to resolve bribery investigations.


ENRC founder charged with money laundering in France

French authorities have charged Patokh Chodiev, one of the three founders of Kazakh mining company ENRC, with money laundering, according to Belgian reports.  

Chodiev was indicted in France on 29 May over allegations that he gave over €5 million in suspicious payments to his former lawyer, Catherine Degoul, and a “suitcase porter” while in Paris and Zurich between 2010 and 2011.

He has also been named an assisted witness in an investigation known as “Kazakhgate” in French media. Chodiev allegedly bribed the former president of Belgium’s senate €500,000 to rush a white-collar crime settlement tool through Parliament to help him evade prison.

The Brussels Prosecutor’s Office began investigating the matter in 2015 but have not brought charges against Chodiev.


UK court denies Azerbaijani extradition request for Hajiyeva

Zamira Hajiyeva, the first challenger to a UK unexplained wealth order, won her legal battle against extradition to Azerbaijan where she faces two criminal charges of embezzlement. 

The Westminster Magistrates Court ruled on 26 September that Azerbaijan could not guarantee Hajiyeva a fair trial.

Hajiyeva’s lawyer confirmed the news, but noted that the Azerbaijani government may file an appeal: “There is much more that we would like to say but, given ongoing proceedings in respect of other matters and the possibility that the Azeri government may appeal, we will not be making any further comment at this stage.” 

Hajiyeva is married to Jahangir Hajiyev, the former chairman of the International Bank of Azerbaijan. He is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence after being convicted by the Baku Grave Crimes Court in 2016 of defrauding the bank of £2.2 billion. 


Moneyval urges Council of Europe to better combat “dirty money”

The Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body Moneyval has urged member states to ramp up efforts against laundering criminal proceeds and terrorist financing.

In its 2018 annual report, Moneyval particularly advises against the practice of “de-risking”, in which banks quickly cut commercial ties with foreign banks found to be at risk of money laundering or terrorist financing. According to MONEYVAL, the practice has a knock-on effect of aggravating these risks in other countries.

The report also highlights a number of initiatives that the body carried out last year, including combating financial flows stemming from slavery and human trafficking.


Brazil appoints Augusto Aras as Federal Prosecutor General

Antonio Augusto Brandão de Aras has been appointed to serve as the new head of Brazil’s Federal Prosecution Service (MPF), following a vote by the country’s senate.

According to the MPF, the Senate’s Constitution, Justice and Citizenship Commission approved Aras with 23 votes in favour. His appointment was then confirmed by the Senate Plenary with 68 votes.

Aras, who was previously the deputy attorney general and has served the MPF for 32 years, will replace Raquel Dodge – who stepped down on 17 September – and will serve a two-year term. 


Strukton finds no evidence of wrongdoing in Saudi contracts

In a financial statement published on 12 September, the parent company of Dutch transport systems company Strukton said independent audits did not find evidence of wrongdoing. 

The company said there was “no need whatsoever” for a raid in February by the Dutch Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service (FIOD). The FIOD is investigating the company over contracts to construct three metro lines in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. 

Following the raid, Strukton conducted its own internal investigation and reviewed all of the information confiscated by the FIOD. Strukton says it did not find any indications of non-compliance and that an external legal expert concurred with its findings.