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SEC Awards USD 114M to Two Whistleblowers

By Brad Fulton

Welcome to This Week In Compliance: GAN’s weekly news roundup, where we curate the latest stories on compliance and anti-corruption to keep you informed. This week, the SEC has awarded USD 114M in total to two whistleblowers. Read the full story and more news below:

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SEC Awards USD 114M to Two Whistleblowers

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission awarded a total of USD 114M to two whistleblowers Wednesday. Including this most recent award, the SEC has handed out more than USD 1B in awards since the inception of the program which was created with the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act. SEC whistleblowers provide information to the regulator which can lead to prosecution or financial penalties to the accused companies. In keeping with policy, the SEC did not name the whistleblowers or specific cases that led to the award.


German Finance Ministry Raided in Money Laundering Probe

German prosecutors raided finance and justice ministries Thursday due to an ongoing investigation into the German government's anti-money laundering agency. The raids highlight the agency’s alleged failure to crack down on financial crime in the country. The Financial Intelligence Unit has long been suspected of ignoring clear signs of suspicious activity and corrupt payments to Africa. Previously, the FIU has been criticized for failing to detect suspicious activity at payments company Wirecard, which led to a collapse of the company.

Nigerian National Sentenced for Fraud and Money Laundering Scandal

A Nigerian man that lived in Oklahoma was sentenced for operating a money-laundering network and defrauding victims of nearly USD 2.5M million. Afeez Adebara ran a Nigerian-based scam operation from 2017 to 2019 that used online dating websites and social media platforms to lure victims. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) said that members of Adebara’s criminal conspiracy would pose as Americans working or traveling abroad. After earning rapport with their victims, they would request sums of money in increasingly larger amounts, claiming they needed funds for business projects or to help them return to the United States.

UK Toughens Up on Cryptocurrency

UK officials announced this week that it would toughen up its cryptocurrency regulations as fraud, bribery, and corruption rise. The Economic Crime Plan seeks to overhaul the approach to economic crime by partnering with the government, law enforcement, and the private sector. Nearly GBP 60M will be allocated to government agencies to help curb the ability to commit crimes using hard-to-track crypto assets.


Witnesses Testify in Ongoing Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos Case

Ex-Theranos employees testified Thursday that Theranos manipulated lab data and inflated revenue projections to garner support from investors. The witnesses include employees involved in the creation of a new blood-testing machine that CEO Elizabeth Holmes claimed would revolutionize the medical industry. According to the prosecution’s testimony, Holmes was a leader who would stop at nothing to grow the company, despite paltry evidence of the new device’s efficacy. Holmes’ defense team said that she was simply an overly-optimistic, first-time CEO, ill-equipped to handle some of the early decisions she made, but did not intend to defraud investors or the general public.

National Australia Bank Seeks to End Money-Laundering

Ross McEwan, CEO of the National Australia Bank, confirmed this week that the bank is examining the accounts of millions of customers as part of a project to "plug holes in its anti-money laundering regime". The statement came during a parliamentary exchange between the bank and regulators. Dubbed "Project Apollo", the undertaking began in secret in June and will require the bank to sift through millions of data sets and a backlog of customer accounts.

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