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FIU report: $1.12b in suspicious activities stopped

By Irene Medina Associate Editor

Suspicious monetary transactions with an estimated value of $ 1.12 billion were intercepted by reporting entities, according to a report by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Trinidad and Tobago.

The FIU report for the period October 1, 2012, to September 30, 2013, was tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday.

The intercepted transactions accounted for 29 of the 554 suspicious transactions reports (STRs/or suspicious activity reports (SARs) filed. 

The report, which was signed by FIU director Susan Francois, stated the fact that monetary transactions were stopped was evidence that due diligence measures were taken by the reporting entities, which include banking institutions and attorneys, to detect and decline these transactions before completion. 

The monetary value of suspicious activity for the period under review was $283,820,834. Compared to the previous reporting period, which showed a total monetary value of $638,844,310, this period reflec­ted a decline by 56 per cent or $355,023,476. 

The decrease in monetary value, according to the report, was likely caused by the low dollar value of the suspicious activities and fewer reported transactions involving large monetary sums.

The 119-page annual report also indicated for the period under review, 506 STRs/SARs, which included suspicious activities from previous years, were analysed which generated 128 intelligence reports. 

According to the report, “In-depth analysis was conducted on 166 STRs/SARs, which generated 99 intelligence reports to local law enforcement agencies (LEAs).”

To date, 63 have been forwarded to the Commissioner of Police (Financial Investigations Branch—FIB), 30 to the chairman of the Board of Inland Revenue (BIR) and six to the Chief Immigration Officer.

The report also indicated for the past year under review, there has been a 115 per cent increase from the previous year in the total number of STRs/SARs submitted to the FIU. 

“The most significant increase occurred in the money and value transfer services (MVTS) sector, which submitted 314 STRs/SARs as compared with 38 in the previous year.

The increase is largely attributed to two MVTS which filed 111 and 200 respectively of the STRs/SARs received,” the report stated.

Two sectors submitted STRs/SARs to the FIU for the first time. These were private members clubs and exchange bureaux, which filed seven and three STRs/SARs respectively.

As well, sector significant increases were noted in the number of STRs/SARs filed by attorneys, co-operative societies, motor vehicle sales and real estate.

In its analysis of suspicious reports, the FIU’s Analytic Division found the majority of the reports came from the banking or financial institutions. According to the report, the categories of suspected specified offences identified in the STRs/SARs during the review period include:

• tax evasion

• drug trafficking and related offences

• human trafficking

• fraud

• forgery

• extortion

• misconduct in public office

• money laundering

• financing of terrorism

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