Iceland’s efforts over the last decade to focus on crimes that were associated with the financial crisis around the globe has hurt its law enforcement of money laundering and terrorism financing, reported The Wall Street Journal.
Citing the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an international standard-setting group, The WSJ said authorities in Iceland have a “fragmented understanding” of money laundering and terrorist financing. Although the country has a good legal framework for investigating and prosecuting money laundering, the group said that from 2008 to 2015, Iceland was focused on financial crimes that contributed to the banking collapse, rather than other financial crime that “has not received sufficient attention.”
The FATF did note that regulators in Iceland are starting to understand those areas, but need to step it up. “Iceland must use its ability to coordinate domestic authorities and put practices in place to strengthen its efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist financing,” the group said. FATF also said Iceland needs to focus on the specific risks of companies and provide more information to the company owners. It noted that with the exception of the three largest banks in Iceland, the financial sector and other businesses have a “poor understanding” of the risks, only reporting few suspicious transactions with little knowledge of their obligations.
The report comes after a group of Icelandic thieves recently stole 600 computers used to “mine” bitcoin. The hardware was reportedly snatched from data centers in Iceland in what local law enforcement calls the biggest theft in the island nation’s history. Thus far, 11 people have been arrested in connection with the crime, which the Icelandic media has called the “Big Bitcoin Heist.” A judge at the Reykjanes District Court on Friday ordered two people to remain in custody; one of those swept up in the arrests was a security guard. As for the computers themselves, they have not been found and are worth around $2 million. But if the thieves intended to actually use the computers to extract bitcoin, they could theoretically pull in an even greater profit, all in an untraceable digital currency.