Compliance & Regulation

Malta’s FIAU reports substantial increase in Suspicious Transaction Reports

Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) has revealed that the number of suspicious transaction reports which it received in 2017 compared to 2019 increased by 157%.

In 2019, the FIAU received 2,778 suspicious transaction reports (STRs), which also represents a 65% increase on 2018 numbers, according to the 17th March 2020 Malta Financial Services Oversight newsletter.

This increase has been attributed to the FIAU’s increased efforts in raising awareness and standards of education of the signs of and risks posed by Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing, namely in efforts aimed at those outside of the financial services industry.

Upon receiving STRs, the FIAU will assess any reports according to their priority, and subsequently the appropriate course of action is followed, such as disseminations to the Malta Police, to foreign authorities, or to other domestic authorities.

In addition to the rise in STRs, the FIAU also has reported that it saw a unprecedented increase in the number of foreign authorities requesting information pertaining to offshore investigations. The FIAU has revealed that it responded to requests related to over 3,000 individuals, an increase of around 1,000 from the number handled in 2017 and 2018 respectively. The vast majority of these requests pertained to fitness and properness checks.

According to the newsletter, the FIAU also shares information with information with its foreign counterparts; in 2019, the FIAU shared 1,549 so-called spontaneous reports in 2019. This represents a dramatic increase from 749 in 2018.

As of February 2020, the FIAU has already shared 664 spontaneous reports with its counterparts.

Looking to the future, the FIAU has revealed that it has plans to increase its headcount to 100 by June 2020, and ultimately to approximately 150 by 2022, extending the resources available to the regulator in its efforts to combat financial crime.

The Legal and International Affairs Team of the FIAU, the newsletter revealed, have also been majorly involved in the drafting of amendments to potentially be made to the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), and the Prevention of Money Laundering and Funding of Terrorism Regulations (PMLFTR).

These amendments aim to address the issues raised in Malta’s Fifth Round Mutual Evaluation Report conducted by MONEYVAL, and the issued raised by the Venice Commission report on Malta, which were defined as needing intervention.

The FIAU has, as of the newsletter’s publication, initiated the second phase of undertaking its address of MONEYVAL’s recommendations made in relation to the legal provisions found under the PMLFTR.