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Thursday, 18 June 2020

Belgium targets ING over money laundering and tax fraud

The Mons Prosecutors’ Office has applied to open criminal proceedings against the Belgian arm of Dutch bank ING over allegations it took part in a tax fraud scheme and laundered €19.7 million, according to Le Vif.

Prosecutors have also applied to initiate criminal proceedings against four individuals, including Italian theatre director Franco Dragone, who was named in the Panama Papers, and Canterlo Limited, a company based in the British Virgin Islands.

Dragone allegedly laundered royalties through Canterlo between 2005 and 2012 before repatriating them to his Belgian ING account as dividends.

ING played an “essential role” in the scheme, according to prosecutors, by failing to report the suspicious transactions to the authorities. Dragone denies wrongdoing, while ING has said it has not received any further formal information since the investigation began over ten years ago.

“If and when we’d receive more details about the alleged charges, we will analyse these carefully and consider further steps,” the bank said.

Wirecard admits €1.9 billion is missing from company accounts

German payments company Wirecard said in an emailed statement on 18 June that its auditor EY has been unable to account for €1.9 billion in the company’s accounts.

The Financial Times reported in October that Wirecard had fraudulently inflated sales and profits at its businesses in Dubai and Ireland. Wirecard has consistently denied this and is currently suing the newspaper. 

Wirecard CEO Markus Braun said in a statement: “It is currently unclear whether fraudulent transactions to the detriment of Wirecard have occurred.”

The company published an internal investigation by KPMG in April that did not find any evidence to support the Financial Times’ report, but the auditor said that it had been given inadequate access to the company’s financial data.

Sweden and Hungary fine banks over anti-money laundering compliance

Financial regulators in Sweden and Hungary have announced fines against banks for violating anti-money laundering regulations.

Sweden’s Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) announced on 17 June that it has fined JAK Medlemsbank 1.6 million Swedish kronor ($170,000) for breaching anti-money laundering rules relating to customer due diligence.

The bank said in a statement that it accepts the FSA’s decision.

Hungary’s central bank reportedly announced on 17 June that it has issued fines totalling 124 million Hungarian forints ($400,000) to six banks – MagNet Bank, UniCredit Bank, Erste Bank, Sberbank, OTP Bank and K+H Bank – for failing to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. The banks have not commented publicly on the fines.

Swiss politician files complaint against public prosecutor in Fifa case

Gilbert Truffer, the head of the Social Democrat party in the Swiss region of Upper Valais, has filed a criminal complaint against public prosecutor Rinaldo Arnold for a breach of confidentiality linked to the Fifa bribery probe, according to reports.

Truffer has reportedly based his complaint on allegations Arnold helped to arrange secret meetings in 2016 and 2017 between Attorney General Michael Lauber and Fifa president Gianni Infantino to discuss a Fifa bribery investigation. Arnold also allegedly attended some himself.

Switzerland’s federal assembly voted in May to launch impeachment proceedings against Lauber for gross dereliction of duty linked to his handling of the bribery investigation, including holding secret meetings with Infantino. Both prosecutors deny wrongdoing.

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