Crypto change Binance tightens anti-money laundering checks after regulatory stress

  • Binance is rolling out stricter background checks
  • Changes introduced with immediate effect
  • The pressure from regulators has increased in recent weeks

FRANKFURT, Aug. 20 (Reuters) – Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance said Friday it would call for stricter background checks on customers with immediate effect to aid anti-money laundering efforts.

Binance, the world’s largest platform, has come under pressure for the past few months from regulators around the world who are concerned about crypto’s potential for money laundering and the risks to consumers from volatile crypto trading.

The exchange, whose holding company is registered in the Cayman Islands, has reduced its product offerings, including leveraged trading and tokens linked to stocks, and announced that it intends to improve relations with regulators. Continue reading

The money laundering potential of cryptocurrency exchanges has long troubled regulators, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde, who raised concerns earlier this year.

The Dutch central bank said Monday that Binance was failing to comply with its anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws.

Binance announced on their website that users would have to go through a verification process in order to access their products and services. Those who have not done so can only withdraw funds, cancel orders and close positions.

Until now, document-based ID checks at Binance were only required for users who wanted higher trading limits. Users will now need to upload an ID, driver’s license or passport to prove their identity, Binance said.

“This will further improve user protection and fight financial crime,” said the move.

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, a Canadian known by his nickname “CZ”, tweeted a link to Binance announcementsays “Actions speak louder than words”.

The steps taken by crypto exchanges to perform identity and background checks remain different, with some requiring full documentation and others allowing users to sign up for accounts with just one email address.

Binance’s spot trading volume was $ 455 million in July, almost a third less than the previous month, but still number 1 in the world according to data from CryptoCompare.

Binance’s corporate structure is opaque, although the holding company is registered in the Cayman Islands according to UK court documents and the Malaysian Securities Commission.

Reporting by Krisztian Sandor in Frankfurt and Tom Wilson in London; Writing by Tom Wilson Editing by Rachel Armstrong and Elaine Hardcastle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Singapore tightens restrictions once more as Covid circumstances rise

A Housing & Development Board (HDB) public housing estate in Singapore.

Wei Leng Tay | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE – The Singapore government said Tuesday it would tighten Covid-19 measures again as new cases continue to rise, making the country’s reopening plans difficult.

Measures include reintroducing a ban on eating and limiting the maximum number of people who can gather from 5 to 2.

Covid-19 cases in Singapore have increased in recent weeks. Several clusters have emerged around karaoke lounges, wet markets and hawker food centers, which raise concerns among the authorities. Health Department data showed There were 480 joint cases last week, a significant increase from the 19 reported in the past seven days.

Given the current transmission rate, the number of cases can be expected to rise sharply as more people are likely to be infected.

“This is very worrying as it can affect many people in our community across the island,” the Singapore Ministry of Health said in a statement.

“As we continue to conduct extensive testing for people at risk of infection, we can expect the number of cases to increase in the coming days,” she added.

Between July 12 and July 18, an average of 46 cases were detected in the community per day – the highest number of cases since April 2020, the Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

The latest restrictions are in effect from Thursday July 22nd to August 18th.

What are the latest measures?

Restrictions that will be re-imposed include:

  • The number of people who are allowed to gather will be reduced from 5 to a maximum of 2 people.
  • Households are only allowed to receive 2 different visitors each day, not counting grandparents who look after their grandchildren.
  • Eating out is prohibited, but restaurants, food courts, and hawker centers are allowed to offer take-away.
  • Exhausting sports and exercise activities indoors, which normally require the removal of masks, will be discontinued.
  • Large events such as live performances and wedding receptions are being scaled down and pre-event testing remains an essential measure.
  • Working from home remains the standard option for most businesses.

Tuesday’s measures followed when the city-state reported 172 new cases on Monday, including 163 locally transmitted infections. It was the highest number of daily reported cases since last August.

Most of these cases were linked to two large clusters – the Jurong Fishery Port, where fishmongers gather their stocks to sell in markets and food centers, and the so-called KTV lounges or karaoke bars – where customers interact with hostesses .

Jurong is fishing port closed until the end of the month to try to break the chain of transmission while the workers there were quarantined.

Singapore has banned nightclubs, bars and KTV lounges from operating since last year as activity on the premises is considered a high risk. However, some of these establishments continued to operate as food and beverage outlets. Some of them are suspected of violating the Covid-19 rules by providing hostess services.

Amazon Tightens Deal with Media and Leisure With MGM Deal

Hollywood has spent the last week imagining how Amazon will integrate MGM after the acquisition of the legendary studio, valued at $ 8.5 billion, is completed.

Has Amazon Paid Too Much? What is the fate of MGM film director Michael De Luca? How much will MGM TV boss Mark Burnett put into sales? (The answer: enough to bring his total revenue from multiple sales of his production banner to nearly $ 1 billion.)

The forward-looking question, however, is how Amazon can change once MGM is launched Jeff Bezos‘huge tent of e-commerce, web hosting services and media.

As the details of the MGM deal emerged, speculation also surfaced about Amazon’s long-term plans. Sources close to the situation say there have even been discussions about Amazon eventually spinning off the Prime Video and Amazon Studios units into a standalone entity. However, Amazon sources deny this.

Jeff BlackburnThe return from Amazon to Amazon earlier this month has been interpreted as a sign of impending movement for the device. Blackburn, the Amazon veteran credited with building the company, was on sabbatical for most of 2020, then quit in February. But on May 13, two weeks before the MGM acquisition was announced, Amazon surprised the business world by announcing that Blackburn would once again serve as senior VP of the newly created Global Media and Entertainment unit.

Amazon is already in the middle of a management change, as Bezos is handing over the CEO position to Andy Jassy, ​​the long-standing head of the highly profitable Amazon Web Services division, on July 5th.

Industry sources say Amazon’s top bosses are increasingly paying attention to the regulatory environment in the US and Europe. There is concern among all big tech firms that Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook are being viewed as prime targets for breakup efforts, much like how Microsoft fought in the 1990s and early 2000s. The Global Media and Entertainment unit also hosts Audible, Twitch, Amazon Music, and Amazon Games.

Negotiations on the deal, which includes approximately $ 2 billion in MGM debt, have come together quietly for the past nine months or so. Insiders say the majority of the conversation was over phone and video conferencing between Mike Hopkins, Amazon’s senior VP of Prime Video and Studios, and Kevin Ulrich, CEO of Anchorage Capital Group, the mutual fund that was the majority owner of MGM.

Conversations focused solely on the price tag for sale. Decisions about the fate of MGM’s executives and how the studio itself will operate within Amazon Studios’ infrastructure were not addressed. That sparked a tussle between key players like De Luca, Burnett and Amazon Studios director Jennifer Salke, who is now overseeing an original content budget of nearly $ 8 billion, immediately after the announcement. Amazon insiders say they are not considering a scenario that would lead to major changes for Salke.

The only certainty at this stage is that Burnett is poised to come out of the sale with an estimated profit of approximately $ 200 million. He and his wife and business partner Roma Downey were the third largest shareholders in MGM behind Ulrichs Anchorage and Highland Capital Management. The two sold their One Three Media production banner (a joint venture with Hearst) to MGM in two transactions in 2014 and 2015, valued the company at $ 650 million. In 2015, the couple received more than half of their second payout in MGM shares instead of cash. That turned out to be a good bet on sales of $ 8.5 billion.

Ulrich fired former MGM chairman Gary Barber in 2018 after attempting to orchestrate the sale of the studio to Apple for $ 6 billion. At the time, Ulrich was the subject of industrial giggles that he didn’t want to forego red carpets in his entrée, with A-lists and other trappings of Hollywood mogulship.

Sources who worked with the hedge fund manager say he always focused on leaving MGM – at the right time and at the right price. Ulrich’s confidence in MGM’s appeal to buyers as the streaming wars began to rage has been proven by all of the things MGM has not done in the past two years.

MGM has chosen not to open its vault for content licenses or reboots. It did not search its library to develop traits attached to characters in such well-known titles as “Rocky”, “The Pink Panther”, “Legally Blonde”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral”, “RoboCop” and “The Graduate.” “are bound.”

MGM’s revenue could easily have been replenished through content deals for marquee titles. But that would also have locked those assets in the short term with films and television series that would be committed to competing platforms. Part of MGM’s appeal to Amazon was that much of its library has yet to be dismantled for new content offerings. In fact, a source close to the situation says that the greatest asset Amazon is gaining from the deal is not the library per se, but the key to an intellectual property vault that has potential far beyond the existing one Goes beyond MGM’s list of 4,000 films and 17,000 TV episodes.

The James Bond franchise is, of course, the huge exception as it is jointly owned with Eon Prods. ‘ Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, who retain their veto rights against the use of Agent 007.

Even without the renowned spy, the abundance of material Amazon gets for its $ 8.5 billion will set the company apart from Netflix and Apple in the race to build global streaming media platforms.

“You only think Amazon paid too much for this deal if you have absolutely no imagination,” says a senior executive who is involved in the deal.

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Philippines’ Duterte tightens anti-money laundering guidelines to keep away from `gray checklist’

FILE PHOTO: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his fourth state of the nation address at the Philippine Congress in Quezon City, Metro Manila, the Philippines, July 22, 2019. REUTERS / Eloisa Lopez / File Photo

MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a bill on Friday to strengthen anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations before the February 1st deadline set by a global financial watchdog.

The Southeast Asian nation threatened to return to a Financial Action Task Force “gray list” that could delay foreign investment and remittances from millions of overseas Filipinos who keep domestic consumer spending under tighter control and surveillance.

The new law extends the powers of the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) and enables it to impose targeted financial sanctions on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their financing. It also enables the council to apply for subpoenas, search and seizure warrants.

“In line with its foreign policy, the state will expand cooperation in cross-border investigations and prosecutions against people involved in money laundering activities, wherever this is done,” the legislation says.

The AMLC will also be able to facilitate transactions with Filipino online casino operators who employ thousands of mainland Chinese, as well as real estate firms and brokers making individual cash transactions valued at more than 7.5 million pesos ($ 160,000) check.

The Financial Action Task Force, a Paris-based intergovernmental agency, graylisted the Philippines in 2000 for not addressing money laundering issues. It was removed from the list in 2005 following a change in the law.

The agency gave the Philippines until February 1 to tighten its anti-money laundering law and extend its original deadline of October 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

($ 1 = 48.06 Philippine Pesos)

Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Mike Harrison