It brings to an end the time-consuming and cumbersome process of completing suspicious transactions reports by hand and posting them to gardaí.
Gardaí said the new system which went live yesterday will also provide feedback to businesses and notify and warn them of money laundering and terrorist financing scams.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau receives more than 20,000 suspicious transactions reports a year, which are analysed by its Financial Intelligence Unit.
The unit refers relevant cases to other Garda units, such as the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau’s Anti-Money Laundering Unit, Crime and Security (for terrorist financing), Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (for drug-related money laundering) and the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The new IT system is part of the Garda’s modernisation and renewal programme and will also enable the force to share intelligence with financial intelligence units in other countries that are part of the Financial Action Task Force, an inter-governmental body.
“This system now makes it easier for banks and credit unions and businesses like garages to report to us any suspicious transaction,” said Chief Superintendent Pat Lordan of the crime bureau.
“They can now report it immediately. Before it was a paper-based system and they, apart from the big banks, had to fill out forms and post it to us. This is web-based and it will make the job a lot easier,” he said.
Chief Supt Lordan said it could result in businesses not currently registered with the Financial Intelligence Unit starting to make reports. However, he said: “The point of it is not to get more reports, but to make the process easier and improve the quality and get better feedback.
“We have a noticeboard system: if we see a trend we can notify the entities online.
“For example, if criminals are using forged identity documents in credit unions, we can put on the noticeboard ‘beware of criminals using good quality ESB bills’.
He said they had around 1,000 ‘entities’ previously registered with them. The entities include financial institutions and designated professions and cash businesses, such as accountants, solicitors, auctioneers and dealers in high-value goods
Chief Supt Lordan said all these bodies had been circulated with information on the new system and that by lunchtime yesterday more than 100 had registered.
“The new system will create more awareness and will remind credit unions and the likes of their responsibilities in this area,” he said.
He said while the Financial Intelligence Unit gets around 20,000 suspicious transactions reports a year, many do not involve criminality let alone money laundering or terrorist financing, and may be tax matters or are not suspicious at all.
The chief superintendent said the Financial Intelligence Unit will also share more information with other countries and a forthcoming fourth EU directive on money laundering will oblige countries to inform each other of trends in the area.