FIU detection of suspicious activity up by 25 per cent

The Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Unit's (FIU) de­tec­tion rate of sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ty in the fi­nan­cial sec­tor is up by 25 per cent in com­par­i­son to last year.

This was re­vealed by To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly's (THA) Chief Sec­re­tary Kelvin Charles dur­ing his ad­dress at the 9th an­nu­al An­ti-Mon­ey Laun­der­ing/Counter Fi­nanc­ing of Ter­ror­ism (AML/CFT) To­ba­go con­fer­ence at the Mag­dale­na Grand Golf and Beach Re­sort on Mon­day.

He said the FIU, which fights mon­ey laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing, showed "a 25 per cent in­crease in the num­ber of sus­pi­cious trans­ac­tion/ac­tiv­i­ty re­ports... mov­ing from 877 re­ports in 2017 to 1,100 in 2018."

The fig­ure was part of the FIU's over­all in­crease since 2013. The num­ber of de­tect­ed sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ty cas­es moved from 554 in 2013 to 1,100 in 2018, the Chief Sec­re­tary said.

Charles said the FIU had al­so in­creased the num­ber and kinds of busi­ness­es and per­son­nel un­der its watch.

"Even more com­mend­able is your in­crease to 2,756 of su­per­vised en­ti­ties, which in­clude a wide spec­trum of non-reg­u­lat­ed fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions, pro­fes­sion­als and busi­ness sec­tors."

He said the Gov­ern­ment had done its part to help fight mon­ey laun­der­ing by pass­ing the Civ­il As­set Re­cov­ery and Man­age­ment and Un­ex­plained Wealth Bill 2019.

He added the FIU was al­so al­low­ing cit­i­zens to help in the fight by in­tro­duc­ing a se­cured on­line re­port­ing and da­ta man­age­ment so­lu­tion -'FIU Con­nect,' in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the USA. Charles said at present there are sen­si­ti­sa­tion pro­grammes mount­ed by the unit to ed­u­cate non-prof­it or­gan­i­sa­tions and the gen­er­al pub­lic on mon­ey laun­der­ing and ter­ror­ist fi­nanc­ing.

But Charles said more could be done to cur­tail such il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ty if ed­u­ca­tion pro­grammes took place at an ear­li­er age. He al­so threw out a chal­lenge to the unit to part­ner with To­ba­go-based civ­il so­ci­ety and THA groups.

"...Con­sid­er part­ner­ing with our Fi­nan­cial Lit­er­a­cy Sec­re­tari­at un­der the Di­vi­sion of Fi­nance and the Econ­o­my, to be­gin in­tro­duc­ing in­for­ma­tion about an­ti-mon­ey laun­der­ing and counter-fi­nanc­ing of ter­ror­ism to our high school stu­dents and school leavers," he said.

"Part­ner with the Youths En­er­gised for Suc­cess (YES Pro­gramme), ... which is geared to­wards prepar­ing and de­vel­op­ing young en­tre­pre­neurs and young pro­fes­sion­als. You may even want to con­sid­er part­ner­ing with the Di­vi­sion of Com­mu­ni­ty De­vel­op­ment, En­ter­prise De­vel­op­ment and Labour, to sen­si­tise com­mu­ni­ties and small busi­ness­es about the dan­gers of ML and CFT," he sug­gest­ed.

The FIU, which was in­cor­po­rat­ed un­der this coun­try's Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Unit of T&T Act of 2009, is part of the Egmont Group — a glob­al­ly recog­nised net­work of fi­nan­cial units seek­ing to com­bat mon­ey laun­der­ing and the fi­nanc­ing of ter­ror­ism.

Reporter: Camille McEachnie

Camille McEachnie
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