24,000 money laundering and terror financing cases in 2018

Figures from the Department of Justice show a total of 23,939 reports of suspicious financial transactions were made to gardaí in 2018 — a decrease of almost 2% on the previous year.
24,000 money laundering and terror financing cases in 2018

Court sketch of Hassan Bal.             	Picture: Alwyn Gillespie
Court sketch of Hassan Bal. Picture: Alwyn Gillespie

Almost 24,000 suspected cases of money laundering or terrorist financing were reported in 2018.

Figures from the Department of Justice show a total of 23,939 reports of suspicious financial transactions were made to gardaí in 2018 — a decrease of almost 2% on the previous year.

A smaller number of cases — 23,442 — were reported to Revenue, despite the requirement to notify both the tax authorities and Revenue of all suspect activity.

The latest annual report on money laundering and terrorist financing indicates that over 80% of cases reported to Revenue concerned tax-related offences.

Revenue said information generated from such reports had resulted in an additional tax yield of €4.7m.

Criminal proceedings resulted in 73 individuals being charged with 284 money laundering offences during 2018. A total of 28 individuals were convicted of 130 money-laundering offences — up from 11 individuals in 2017 —while one person was convicted of two terrorist financing offences.

Hassan Bal, 26, was jailed for two and a half years at Waterford Circuit Criminal Court after pleading guilty to providing and attempting to provide funding for Islamic State.

In 2018, the Criminal Assets Bureau also secured court orders freezing 85 bank accounts and obtained a total of 228 orders over assets valued at €14.4m which were suspected of being the proceeds of crime such as drug-trafficking, fraud, and smuggling.

The quality of information submitted in the reports of suspicious activity improved during 2018 following the acquisition of new software, the department stated.

While money laundering and terrorist financing differ in many ways, the report said they often exploited the same vulnerabilities in financial systems

It said legislation to tackle the issue was strengthened in 2018 by a law which put further obligations on financial institutions to carry out due diligence on customers and report suspicious transactions, while also giving more powers to the Garda Financial Intelligence Unit.

The unit is staffed by 11 Garda analysts and six administrative staff.

The changes also placed reporting responsibilities on other businesses including solicitors and accountancy firms, property service providers, and gambling clubs.

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