Analyse “long-concealed SWIFT data” to sanction Russian oligarchs says TJN

Analysis of “long-concealed SWIFT data” to detect where money has been rerouted to should be used in efforts by newly established task forces to sanction Russian oligarchs and companies according to the Tax Justice Network (TJN).

It says efforts to sanction Russian entities have immediately come up against a wall of financial secrecy cultivated by decades of rich countries courting finance from dictators, tax evaders and money launderers.

As a result, TJN has published a briefing detailing 10 transparency measures that the task forces could consider to combat efforts to evade the sanctions.

New task forces

The US has launched Task Force KleptoCapture to combat efforts to evade sanctions and has signed up to the joint Transatlantic Task Force alongside the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the UK and Canada to ensure the effective implantation of sanctions.

The briefing published by TJN suggests measures that the task forces can take to try to cut through financial secrecy and expose the assets and wealth secretively held around the world by sanctioned Russian oligarchs.

Long concealed data

One of those measures would be to analyse what TJN describes as “long-concealed SWIFT data” to detect where money has been rerouted to.

It says the Transatlantic Task Force should require SWIFT to share records of all cross-border banking transactions made in the past 60 days to identify assets of any sanctioned person that may have been moved outside of Russia and any nominees or legal vehicles to whom sanctioned persons may have transferred their assets.

To date, TJN says SWIFT data has only been made available to the US to fight terrorism despite its potential to expose billions in transactions made by organised crime, drug cartels, white-collar criminals and corrupt politicians.

Beneficial ownership

The briefing also suggests that SWIFT should collect and report data on the beneficial owners of accounts involved in transactions.

“Instead of SWIFT messages saying “Company A sent $1000 to Company B”, messages would say “Joe, the beneficial owner of Company A sent $1000 to his chauffeur Jane, who is the beneficial owner of Company B,” the briefing says.

It also suggests public disclosure of all asset ownership information, including beneficial ownership and shareholder information held on the commercial register, and recommends the elimination of the “25 per cent or more” threshold for beneficial owner definitions as well as tougher verification processes to prove beneficial ownership.

Other measures

The briefing also suggests analysing wealth data to expose direct and indirect ownership and new ad-hoc reporting on persons subject to sanctions.

It also recommends the task forces support the development of national wealth registries with the aim of creating a global asset registry.

The Tax Justice Network’s briefing, 10 measures to expose sanctioned Russian oligarchs’ hidden assets, can be found here.


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