'Suspicious' transactions reported


Some 37 suspicious transactions have been uncovered during inspections to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering legislation.

The transactions were reported by the Department of Justice’s Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Unit, which was set up in July.

Businesses scrutinised by the unit include private members’ clubs and those handling high-value goods.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said two of the new unit's officers had so far carried out 275 inspections and had particularly focused on providing information to the affected business sectors.

He said today 37 "suspicious transaction reports" had been processed, mainly for failure to apply customer due diligence. This obliges businesses, for example, to carry out proper verification of customers and to establish the beneficial owners of goods being handled.

The Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Act 2010 gave effect to the EU’s third money-laundering directive, providing for a strengthened regime to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism in line with international standards.

Under the Act, it is an offence to provide trust or company services without the Minister’s authorisation. Mr Shatter said he had authorised 224 such providers to date. The list is available on the unit’s website.

Those directing private members’ clubs where gambling activities take place must also be registered. To date, 26 such clubs have been registered.

Also under the Act, traders in high-value goods who accept cash payments of €15,000 or more (or a number of linked transactions to that amount) are required to have anti-money laundering controls in place.

Tax advisers and certain other independent legal professionals are also subject to the requirements of the Act.

The Minister estimated that more than 5,000 businesses come within the unit’s scope.

With regard to the inspections, Mr Shatter said what was sought from businesses was “relatively straightforward”.

Even at this early stage of operations, businesses appeared to be responding well to the requirements, he said.

“We must be able to see that businesses are protecting themselves from the money laundering and terrorist financing threats by simple and effective means - customer due diligence (that is identifying your customers and beneficial owners), having procedures and controls in place, making sure staff are trained in this area and reporting suspicious transactions to the Garda Siochana and the Revenue Commissioners.”

Mr Shatter noted the unit was at a relatively early stage of implementation and had focused largely on high-value cash transactions to date. But the focus in the latter half of the year had now extended to monitoring private members gaming clubs, trust and company service providers and tax advisers.

Mr Shatter said he appreciated the role of An Garda Síochána in assisting the new nit, particularly in the area of Garda vetting.