Countries should establish a financial intelligence unit (FIU) that serves as a national centre for the receipt and analysis of: (a) suspicious transaction reports; and (b) other information relevant to money laundering, associated predicate offences and terrorist financing, and for the dissemination of the results of that analysis. The FIU should be able to obtain additional information from reporting entities, and should have access on a timely basis to the financial, administrative and law enforcement information that it requires to undertake its functions properly.
INTERPRETIVE NOTE TO RECOMMENDATION 29 (FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE UNITS)
1. This note explains the core mandate and functions of a financial intelligence unit (FIU) and provides further clarity on the obligations contained in the standard. The FIU is part of, and plays a central role in, a country’s AML/CFT operational network, and provides support to the work of other competent authorities. Considering that there are different FIU models, Recommendation 29 does not prejudge a country’s choice for a particular model, and applies equally to all of them.
2. The FIU serves as the central agency for the receipt of disclosures filed by reporting entities. At a minimum, this information should include suspicious transaction reports, as required by Recommendation 20 and 23, and it should include other information as required by national legislation (such as cash transaction reports, wire transfers reports and other threshold-based declarations/disclosures).
3. FIU analysis should add value to the information received and held by the FIU. While all the information should be considered, the analysis may focus either on each single disclosure received or on appropriate selected information, depending on the type and volume of the disclosures received, and on the expected use after dissemination. FIUs should be encouraged to use analytical software to process information more efficiently and assist in establishing relevant links. However, such tools cannot fully replace the human judgement element of analysis. FIUs should conduct the following types of analysis:
∎ Operational analysis uses available and obtainable information to identify specific targets (e.g. persons, assets, criminal networks and associations), to follow the trail of particular activities or transactions, and to determine links between those targets and possible proceeds of crime, money laundering, predicate offences or terrorist financing.
∎ Strategic analysis uses available and obtainable information, including data that may be provided by other competent authorities, to identify money laundering and terrorist financing related trends and patterns. This information is then also used by the FIU or other state entities in order to determine money laundering and terrorist financing related threats and vulnerabilities. Strategic analysis may also help establish policies and goals for the FIU, or more broadly for other entities within the AML/CFT regime.
4. The FIU should be able to disseminate, spontaneously and upon request, information and the results of its analysis to relevant competent authorities. Dedicated, secure and protected channels should be used for the dissemination.
∎ Spontaneous dissemination: The FIU should be able to disseminate information and the results of its analysis to competent authorities when there are grounds to suspect money laundering, predicate offences or terrorist financing. Based on the FIU’s analysis, the dissemination of information should be selective and allow the recipient authorities to focus on relevant cases/information.
∎ Dissemination upon request: The FIU should be able to respond to information requests from competent authorities pursuant to Recommendation 31. When the FIU receives such a request from a competent authority, the decision on conducting analysis and/or dissemination of information to the requesting authority should remain with the FIU.
C. ACCESS TO INFORMATION
(a) Obtaining Additional Information from Reporting Entities
5. In addition to the information that entities report to the FIU (under the receipt function), the FIU should be able to obtain and use additional information from reporting entities as needed to perform its analysis properly. The information that the FIU should be permitted to obtain could include information that reporting entities are required to maintain pursuant to the relevant FATF Recommendations (Recommendations 10, 11 and 22).
(b) Access to Information from other sources
6. In order to conduct proper analysis, the FIU should have access to the widest possible range of financial, administrative and law enforcement information. This should include information from open or public sources, as well as relevant information collected and/or maintained by, or on behalf of, other authorities and, where appropriate, commercially held data.
D. INFORMATION SECURITY AND CONFIDENTIALITY
7. Information received, processed, held or disseminated by the FIU must be securely protected, exchanged and used only in accordance with agreed procedures, policies and applicable laws and regulations. An FIU must, therefore, have rules in place governing the security and confidentiality of such information, including procedures for handling, storage, dissemination, and protection of, as well as access to such information. The FIU should ensure that its staff members have the necessary security clearance levels and understanding of their responsibilities in handling and disseminating sensitive and confidential information. The FIU should ensure that there is limited access to its facilities and information, including information technology systems.
E. OPERATIONAL INDEPENDENCE
8. The FIU should be operationally independent and autonomous, meaning that the FIU should have the authority and capacity to carry out its functions freely, including the autonomous decision to analyse, request and/or disseminate specific information. In all cases, this means that the FIU has the independent right to forward or disseminate information to competent authorities.
9. An FIU may be established as part of an existing authority. When a FIU is located within the existing structure of another authority, the FIU’s core functions should be distinct from those of the other authority.
10. The FIU should be provided with adequate financial, human and technical resources, in a manner that secures its autonomy and independence and allows it to conduct its mandate effectively. Countries should have in place processes to ensure that the staff of the FIU maintain high professional standards, including standards concerning confidentiality, and should be of high integrity and be appropriately skilled.
11. The FIU should also be able to make arrangements or engage independently with other domestic competent authorities or foreign counterparts on the exchange of information.
F. UNDUE INFLUENCE OR INTERFERENCE
12. The FIU should be able to obtain and deploy the resources needed to carry out its functions, on an individual or routine basis, free from any undue political, government or industry influence or interference, which might compromise its operational independence.
G. EGMONT GROUP
13. Countries should ensure that the FIU has regard to the Egmont Group Statement of Purpose and its Principles for Information Exchange Between Financial Intelligence Units for Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Cases (these documents set out important guidance concerning the role and functions of FIUs, and the mechanisms for exchanging information between FIUs). The FIU should apply for membership in the Egmont Group.
H. LARGE CASH TRANSACTION REPORTING
14. Countries should consider the feasibility and utility of a system where financial institutions and DNFBPs would report all domestic and international currency transactions above a fixed amount.