$8B in financial crimes reported to FIU for 2018

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The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has submitted its annual report to the Finance Minister, even as the Unit has revealed that financial crimes involving over $8 billion worth of illicit money were reported to it for the 2018 fiscal year.

This was according to FIU Director, Matthew Langevine in his comments during the handing over of the report on Monday at the Ministry of Finance. According to Langevine, many of these reports centred on money laundering.

FIU Director, Matthew Langevine

“We’ve done a lot of work in sharing information [with] the Special Organised Crime Unit and the other stakeholders like the central bank, about some of the suspicious transactions we’re seeing in the sector,” Langevine said during the handing over of the report.

He added that reports were also received about suspected money laundering from the money transfer sector. “But we’ve also seen suspicious transactions related to tax evasion, drug trafficking, corruption in public office, suspected terrorist financing and insider trading.”

According to Langevine, they would have examined all these reports and shared information where applicable. Besides SOCU, Langevine revealed that they have also been sharing info with the State Assets Recovery Agency and the Guyana Revenue Authority.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Winston Jordan noted that this is the first report from the FIU that he has received. Despite the passage of a No-Confidence Motion against the Government, Jordan was optimistic of having the report tabled in Parliament.

The Minister was also optimistic that the FIU will be preparing similar reports on an annual basis.

The FIU is an autonomous agency that investigates financial crimes. It operates under the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism Act. The Unit has to work closely with other agencies, including the Guyana Revenue Authority and the Gaming Authority.

But while the FIU has been walking the straight and narrow, its sister agency, SOCU, has been beleaguered with problems since an audit into its operations was carried out by the Guyana Police Force.

The audit into SOCU, an arm of the police, was first ordered by Police Commissioner Leslie James in February following claims of grave mismanagement which included the misuse of its operational fund.

The audit of the financial records of SOCU subsequently uncovered serious irregularities, including the falsification of records, and it has recommended immediate transfers and a fraud investigation of several of the discrepancies, sources say.

It has resulted in Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan announcing in May of this year that several SOCU ranks would be transferred or even have their services terminated based on the findings.

Added to this, SOCU has had several of its cases tossed out of the window by the courts, including a number of charges against former Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB) executives and Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) Directors.