Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations


Friday, 27 March 2020

Indicted Merrill Lynch trader pushes to dismiss a single spoofing charge

Former Merrill Lynch precious metals trader John Pacilio has asked a US court to throw one spoofing charge brought against him by the US Justice Department in a superseding indictment in February 2020. 

Pacilio argued in a 25 March filing that the spoofing charge, which relates to allegations he manipulated the precious metals market by placing orders and immediately cancelling them to create a false sense of demand in the market, should be dismissed for being “unconstitutionally vague”. 

He also argued that the charge, which relates to trades that occurred between 2011 and 2014, have exceeded the five-year statute of limitations for spoofing offences.

Prosecutors have also charged Pacilio with committing wire fraud and commodities fraud.

FinCEN warns US institutions about jurisdictions with increased money laundering risks

The US Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) advised US financial institutions on 26 March to monitor the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) updated list of risky jurisdictions.

The countries that have been added this year to FATF’s list of jurisdictions requiring increased monitoring for money laundering and terrorist financing risks are Albania, Barbados, Myanmar, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Mauritius and Uganda.

FATF is an organisation set up by G7 countries to combat money laundering.

FinCEN says institutions handling payments to or from these jurisdictions should consider having enhanced policies, procedures and controls in place to flag suspicious transactions.

Halkbank hires new counsel before arraignment in US sanctions case

Turkish state-owned bank Halkbank has instructed Williams & Connolly to represent it in a high-profile sanctions and money laundering case in New York.

The firm said in a 27 March letter to a Manhattan federal court that it had been hired by the bank. 

The court had requested that Halkbank nominate a legal counsel before its scheduled arraignment on 31 March, which follows a months-long standoff where the bank refused to accept receipt of the charges.

US prosecutors charged the bank in October 2019 over its alleged role in a $20 billion scheme to illegally route oil profits through the US financial system in violation of sanctions on Iran. 

King & Spalding has been representing the bank in the matter and it is unclear if Williams & Connolly have replaced it.

Swiss Supreme Court asks prosecutors to review Fifa-linked indictment

Switzerland’s Federal Supreme Court has asked prosecutors to review their indictment against the chairman of BeIn Media Group, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, for inciting criminal mismanagement, according to Le Monde.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) charged Al-Khelaifi in February, alleging he gave Fifa’s former secretary-general Jerôme Valcke “undue advantages” in exchange for media rights between 2013 and 2015.

They deny wrongdoing.

The court has reportedly said that “everything leads [them] to believe” that the misconduct alleged in the relationship between Al-Khelaifi and Valcke occurred in a private context and had no links to Valcke’s professional activities.

The Swiss Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has 10 days to amend its indictment or appeal.

Al-Khelaifi is also the president of French football club Paris Saint-Germain. 

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