The Malta Independent 23 July 2019, Tuesday

FIAU made 12 requests for information to UAE in 2018

Neil Camilleri Thursday, 20 June 2019, 08:43 Last update: about 2 months ago

In 2018, Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) made 12 requests for information to the United Arab Emirates, according to the unit’s annual report for 2018, which was submitted to Parliament yesterday.

While the report does not state specifically what these requests were related to, it is believed that at least some of them are related to 17 Black, the company allegedly owned by businessman Yorgen Fenech.

ADVERTISEMENT

17 Black was identified in a leaked e-mail as one of two sources of income for the Panama companies Hearnville and Tillgate, which were set up by OPM consultants Nexia BT for Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri.

Fenech is the CEO of Tumas Group and a director of the Electrogas power station.

17 Black was incorporated in Dubai and had its account at Noor Bank, which was opened in 2015, closed in 2018.

Furthermore, Nexia BT had also tried, unsuccessfully, to open Dubai bank accounts for two “two of our Panama companies.”

The report shows that, during 2018, the UAE made no requests for information to Malta.

In 2017, the FIAU had also made 12 requests for information to the UAE, of which six were replied to.

The FIAU also sent seven Spontaneous Intelligence reports to the UAE in 2018.

The FIAU received a total of 251 international requests for information in 2018, and made 506 requests. These figures “dwarf” those of previous years, according to the report.

In total, the FIAU made 10,196 requests for information, approaching over 570 entities.

During 2018, the FIOU disseminated 45 analytical reports to the police for investigation as well as a further 34 spontaneous disseminations following the receipt of intelligence that was deemed to be relevant for the police, the report says.

The 45 reports sent to the police force were related to suspected corruption and bribery, forgery, fraud, human smuggling, drug trafficking, insider trading, organised crime, sexual exploitation, smuggling, tax crimes, terrorism, and usury.

It also channelled over 200 intelligence reports to other national competent supervisory authorities.

The 2018 annual report also highlighted the number of Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) received by the unit’s Financial Analysis Section during that year. The unit received 1,679 STRs, setting yet another record and marking an increase of 116% over the previous year. These gave rise to 1,556 cases, an increase of 122% over 2017.

Apart from these cases, the FIAU also carried out an analysis in relation to a further 58 cases following the receipt of information from various sources.

Despite the growing numbers, however, the unit believes that the amount of STRs is “still not commensurate with Malta’s risk profile as a financial services centre, with clear evidence of under-reporting in a number of sectors, especially among DNFBPs (Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions).

A substantial increase was noted in the number of STRs submitted by the remote gaming industry, which saw an increase of 221% over 2017. These reports, however, mainly relate to foreign natural persons with limited connections to Malta, according to the report.

Of 724 STRs filed by credit institutions in 2018, 573 were filed by six core domestic banks.

The 1,679 STRs received in 2018 included reports on 2,703 individuals, which is an increase of 83% over the previous year.

During 2018, fraud was the most prevalent suspected predicate offence, with 471 reported instances. This was followed by tax fraud offences, which were identified in 357 reports.

Full report

  • don't miss