Clint Chan Tack
FINANCE Minister Colm Imbert said the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) reported a total of 958 suspicious transaction reports/suspicious activity reports (STRs/SARs) at the end of September 2022, with a total monetary value of $1,937,211,057.
The activities related to these reports were tax evasion, fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking.
While there was general compliance local with measures to combat money laundering and terrorist financing for this period, there was an increase in requests from foreign law enforcement agencies and FIUs with the local FIU for cooperation on these matters.
Imbert made these disclosures when he addressed the House of Representatives on Monday.
Breaking downt the1,937,211,057, Imbert said 844 ( valued at $1,586,346,802) were completed transactions and 195 ( valued at $350,864,255) were attempted transactions.
“This represented a 24 percent decrease in completed transactions and a 68 percent decrease in attempted transactions when compared to the previous reporting period.”
Imbert said 16 STRs/SARs contained both completed and attempted transactions.
“Suspicious activity ranked the highest among the five most common reasons for the submission of STRs/SARs to the FIUTT.”
A total of 301 people fell within this category.
Imbert said, “This was followed by tax evasion (211 persons), fraud (196 persons), money laundering (155 persons) and drug Trafficking (35 persons).”
These accounted for 94 percent of the total STRs/SARs received by the FIU and 60 per cent of the total monetary value of all STRs/SARs submitted.
An analysis of 212 STRs/SARs generated a total of 69 intelligence reports (65 suspected money laundering cases and four suspected terrorism financing cases.
Imbert said 45 of these reports were spontaneous disclosures.
“Of these, 33 were submitted to local competent authorities whilst 12 were shared with foreign law enforcement agencies and FIUs.”
The FIU received 16 requests from foreign authorities up to September 30, 2022.
Imbert said, “These requests featured a total of 85 subjects in contrast to the 26 recorded in the previous year.”
The suspected criminal conduct in the majority of cases was financing of terrorism related, with four of the requests seeking intelligence on 34 subjects.
Requests the FIU received from foreign authorities originated mainly from the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe.
In the same period, Imbert said the FIU made 23 requests “comprising of 45 subjects to foreign authorities for financial intelligence and information.”
These requests involved 11 cases of suspected fraud and five cases of drug trafficking.
Imbert said the FIU sent “the majority of (its) requests to foreign authorities in the Caribbean, the Americas and Asia.”
The FIU disseminated 12 spontaneous disclosures to foreign FIUs and law enforcement agencies, compared to six in 2021.
Imbert said, “The spontaneous dissemination of intelligence was linked to the suspected criminal conduct related to fraud and money laundering, accounting for 83 per cent and 17 percent (respectively ) of the total number of spontaneous intelligence reports disseminated, respectively.”
With the signing of a memorandum of undersanding (MOU) with the superintendency of banks in Guatemala last year, Imbert said the the FIU now has 36 such MOUs with foreign FIUs.
Locally, the FIU reported higher levels of compliance by local entities to anti-money laundering. financing of terrorism and proliferation financing.
But Imbert said in the case of quarterly property terrorist reports (QTRs) which continued to be implemented during its reporting period, “there is a need for improved compliance by the credit union sector.”
With respect to financial analysis, Imbert said the 958 STRs/SARs received by the FIU, represented “a decrease of 42 per cent (in these reports) when compared with the same period one year prior.”
Assent of the TT Special Economic Zones Act and assent of the Cannabis Control Act on n January 31, 2022 and June 17, 2022 respectively were identified by Imbert as significant legislative measures which helped to reduce the threat posed by money laundering and terrorism financing
At the end of September 2022, 457 new entities were registered with the FIU, bringingt the the total number of registrants to 4,193.
Imbert said, “Of this number, the real estate and attorney-at-law sectors continue to lead the way with the highest number of new registrants.”
Looking forward, Imbert said the FIU will improve its internal operations and “place priority on matters relating to increasing the number of intelligence products to a wider section of stakeholders.”
He also said legislative amendents will be introduced to strengthen existing anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing measures, including measures designed specifically for non-profit organisations.
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