This is the time of year to roll out the platitudes and look back over the past 12 months, at the high points and low points and this blog is no exception.
2014 has been a great year for compliance, mainly thanks to the numerous investigations into rate rigging, market
manipulation and sanctions breaches which although on a global scale, have affected the Asia Pacific region.
Starting on a very sombre note, the Australian police force has arrested and charged two men with giving AUD15,000 to ISIS by funding flights for Australians who went to join the jihad in Syria. There is no evidence linking this to the tragic siege in a Sydney cafe in December, perpetrated by an apparently mentally ill man. Nor are their any direct links between that and the barbaric terrorist attack on a school in Peshawar carried out by the Taliban who murdered more than 130 people, the majority of whom were children. Who is funding the Taliban? The UK, US and foreign aid budgets have been variously named as unwitting donors. But that is all old news. Terror was still being funded in 2014.
Last Christmas I broke the law for you
BNP have claimed the top of the Christmas tree this year with their admission to breaching US sanctions on Sudan, Iran and Cuba, accepting the largest financial penalty to date issued for this type of breach, an eye watering USD8.97bn, which is roughly how much money it sluiced for sanctioned entities between 2004 and 2012. The penalty has focused attention on sanctions, and upon the intricate systems used by BNP to hide transactions.
He sees when you are grafting, he knows when you’r e on the take
Corruption gained a very high profile in APAC this year, with President Xi Jinping launching merciless attacks on former allies and fellow politicians who have skimmed from the national coffers. Although some view this as a political purge with corruption used as an overcoat, the message sent out is loud and clear: you’d better watch out, you’d better not graft.
Lonely this Christmas
Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption officers will surely be celebrating this week as it landed a prize scalp. A jury found HK’s former second official – Rafael Hui – guilty of accepting HK$8.5m (£700,000) from executives of the Sun Hung Kai Properties development company. The case has exposed the intricate links between the SAR’s government and powerful property developers; Hui’s case is the latest conviction. He is due to be sentenced in time for Christmas in Hong Kong’s jail, which will be a far less chilling residency than those of peers in Mainland China.
All you want for Christmas is a job in KYC
Recruitment in Asia Pacific compliance is still booming. Banks in Hong Kong are looking for lawyers to shore up their regulatory defences but all is not lost for those without a law degree. Back in August, recruiters in Singapore were crying out for customer on boarding and know your customer specialists, as well as project managers to fill posts. While the legal eagle-eye view on financial crime is still viewed as a safe bet, firms still need hands-on practitioners to do the real work.
Financially include the world
One of the biggest campaigns to gain ground in 2014 is the rally behind financial inclusion – lead by various non-governmental organisations including the Bangkok head-quartered Alliance for Financial Inclusion. Financial inclusion aims to provide appropriate financial services to those who are excluded from the financial sector and as a result, are at the mercy of ruthless money lenders, usurers and criminals who use exploitation – whether via labour or sex – to earn money. If you could borrow money from someone who would not try to sell you or your children into slavery, you would, wouldn’t you? If the world’s biggest banks are looking in earnest to change their reputations for the good, they could do worse than to reach out to the less profitable sections of society, who could do with some support.
12 corps avoiding… or is that evading?
To round off with some festive cheer, let’s all join in with a rousing chorus of the 12 Tax Dodgers of Christmas, 38Degrees’ reworking of a popular Xmas carol to highlight those who chose to hide their wealth rather than paying taxes in the country where they make their vast fortunes. Step up Amazon, Caffe Nero, Johnny Walker et al.
Or maybe it should be‘O come all ye shameful.’
First published on the ICA blog in December 2014.