LAST year more than 300 reports of suspicious activity and transactions were made to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said yesterday.
He was speaking in the Senate on the Miscellaneous Provisions (Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago and Anti-Terrorism) Bill 2012.
He said for the review period, 303 suspicious activity reports and suspicious transaction reports were filed with the FIU in 2011, almost triple the figure of 111 in 2010.
"It shows that the FIU is working, and not just working, but working well," he said.
He noted that the large majority of suspicious activity reports, 58 out of 111 in 2010, were from the banking sector while the total monetary value of reports was $263 million. He commended the banking sector for providing that type of sensitive information to the FIU and for putting in place safeguards to detect and flag suspicious transactions.
He pointed out that the FIU was a "go between" between the financial institutions and the law enforcement bodies, noting that some institutions may not be eager to send sensitive information directly to the police or another entrenched agency. He added that the FIU has the type of expertise that the police service would not have.
He noted in reports of suspicious transaction and suspicious activity from October 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012, of 126 reports 65 were the subject of ongoing analysis, 54 were closed and seven were analysed. Of the seven, 14 intelligence reports have been generated and passed on to law enforcement agencies for investigation, Ramlogan added.
"What that shows is that the FIU is in fact performing its functions in a creditable manner and given the short space of time they have had to operationalise and to come up to speed I think that they must be given our full support and commended," he said.
He said the FIU has had measured and demonstrable progress and he was certain that with this progress the country would get a positive recommendation from the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
FATF, an intergovernmental policy-making body on combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats, will be visiting Trinidad and Tobago to conduct a compliance review at the end of this month.
Ramlogan suggested that before people get "damned" and "gloom and doom" by this country being on FATF "grey list", or not fully compliant, he noted there were more than 40 other countries also on that list including Antigua, Venezuela, Argentina and Turkey. He said some of these countries were larger in size and better resourced than Trinidad and Tobago.