The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) continued to receive suspicious report transactions yesterday.
This was according to acting Director of the FIU, Nigel Stoddard, who was speaking at the Police Service’s (TTPS) weekly media briefing that was held at the Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain.
With the introduction of the new $100 polymer bill which was only made available on Monday, Stoddard said it was still “a bit of a short period to tell” but added that they continue to receive reports of suspicious transactions.
“The FIU and listed businesses they do have 14 days in which to make suspicious transaction reports,” Stoddard said.
Told that according to the Attorney General, Faris Al-Rawi that there has been an increase in reports, Stoddard replied: “
Again, based on the date in terms of when the transactions have started, where the Central Bank provided the funds to the banks on December 9, I can’t say definitively if there is an increase based on the information we have presently.”
“But again the banks have 14 days in which they have to report their suspicious transactions. So we are aware of certain transactions and we have continued to receive suspicious transaction reports, but to do the analysis on whether it’s related specifically to the polymer notes, that is something which would have to be done at a later stage, “ he added.
Supt Financial Investigations Branch Wendell Lucas said the financial institutions, like First Citizens Bank have taken a bold step, “and I know other financial institutions have also begun, but that source of funds declaration is to give the Institutions some indication as to where the money came from.”
“Not withstanding that police officers, specifically financial investigators are visiting financial institutions with a view of conducting checks on persons coming with large sums of money to get some indication as to where that cash came from. So in addition to what the bank is doing the police have also stepped up their due diligence to identify persons who are trying to put bad money into the system,” Lucas added.
Lucas said if one has reasonable cause to suspect, that someone is laundering, one “have a duty to report that information to the law enforcement and to the FIU.”
There is a penalty that goes with failing to report, as well. A person who commits the offence under Section 52 is liable under summary conviction to a fine of $250,000, and imprisonment for three years.
Where such a person is employed in the state as a public office, or on contract – summary conviction $500,000 and imprisonment to five years.
The FIB wishes to draw to the attention of citizens of T&T section 45.1 of the Proceeds of Crime Act, which deals with money laundering.
And it says – A person who knows or has reasonable grounds to suspect that property is criminal property and who— (a) engages directly or indirectly, in a transaction that involves that criminal property; or (b) receives, possesses, conceals, disposes of, disguises, transfers, brings into, or sends out of Trinidad and Tobago, that criminal property; or (c) converts, transfers or removes from Trinidad and Tobago that criminal property, commits an offence of money laundering.
Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant