Malta sees a 157% increase in suspicious transaction reports

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While reporting an unprecedented increase in the number of requests for information received from other domestic authorities especially supervisory authorities, Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) has also reported a 157% increase in suspicious transaction reports (STRs) in 2019 from 2017, with 2,778 STRs received. The anti-money laundering unit also reported FIAU is also exchanging information with other countries as part of global efforts to tackle financial crime. Compared to 749 in 2018 and 277 in 2017, the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit shared 1,549 so-called spontaneous reports in 201 and just by the end of February, FIAU has already shared 664 spontaneous reports with its counterparts. 

Malta’s finance minister Edward Scicluna stated that money laundering and terrorism financing are serious threats to Europe’s and the entire world’s financial system and everyone has a role to play in fighting the twin scourge. The minister’s statement follows a report where the Council of Europe’s anti-money laundering body Moneyval called on the Maltese authorities to strengthen the practical application of their measures to combat money laundering and financing of terrorism.

FIAU imposed €3.9m on subject persons in relation to breaches of their anti-money laundering and combatting the financing of terrorism obligations, representing a 190% increase on the previous year and a 700-fold increase on 2017. For failing to provide the regulator with information promptly, Credorax Bank was recently hit with a €51,000 fine by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit. This was disclosed in a notification on the FIAU’s website, the anti-money laundering unit said Credorax Bank had given delayed replies to 37 requests for information and outright failed to reply to two other requests. The regulator is also boosting resources and aims to have 100 employees by June this year and around 153 by 2022, up from 34 in 2017.