Rising Suspicious Activity Reports burden FIA

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The Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) recorded a significant increase in the volume of Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) that were filed during the 2013 reporting year. This increase was obvious when compared to the previous year.

However, the FIA announced that the increase proved to be particularly challenging to the Analysis Unit of the Financial Investigation Agency (FIA), which is staffed by two analysts.

One of the Agency’s main functions is to receive, analyze, investigate, and disseminate information in relation to SARs submitted by financial and other institutions. It was opined that the increase resulted in a number of low priority SARs being carried over into 2014.

A report tabled in the House of Assembly, on 12 February, announced that should the increase continue, the Agency may have to consider taking steps to increase the resources within the Analysis unit.

It was announced that during 2013 the number of Suspicious Activity Reports submitted to the Agency grew by 73 percent, when compared to the number of reports submitted in 2012.

In providing a breakdown of the requests, Director of the FIA, Mr. Errol George stated: “It was reported that the Trust and Company Services Providers (TCSPC) accounted for the majority of reports filed, followed by Banks. In contrast, the number of reports filed by other key sectors, such as the Insurance industry and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professional (DNFBP) sector,  remained very low.”

However, Mr. George indicated that it is highly anticipated that the full implementation of the Agency’s supervisory framework will bring about noticeable changes in the suspicious activity reporting patterns, including reporting trends.

He also explained that the analysis of SARs was one of the Agency’s top priorities during the year. The Director stated that an in-depth analysis of each report, which has been broken down by the category of predicate offence revealed that the types of predicate offences reported during the year closely mirrored the types predicate offences reported during the previous year.

It was noted that the majority of reports filed were being linked to fraud-related offences such as forgery and inside trading. Other categories of predicate offences included money laundering, bribery, corruption, theft, tax evasion, weapons, smuggling, reports linked to persons and entities subject to internal sanctions and those linked to terrorist financing.

During the reporting year, the Agency received and processed a total of 235 SARs. Careful analysis and investigations of these SARS resulted in 84 disseminations to local and foreign law enforcement agencies; and Financial Intelligence Units for further actions or investigations.

Of the SARs received in 2013, it was stated that 157 were received from trust companies, company service providers, 45 from domestic banks, 12 from the Financial Services Commission, nine from money service businesses, four from law firms, four from insurance companies, one from an accounting firm, one from a liquidator, and one from an investment broker.

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