The Minister of Finance of Trinidad and Tobago, the Honourable Mr. Colm Imbert stated that there were 958 suspicious transaction reports/suspicious activity reports (STRs/SARs) valued at TTD $1,937,211,057 up to September 30th, 2022 reported by the Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad and Tobago (FIUTT). The STRs/SARs were based on tax evasion, fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking activities. The Minister elaborated by noting that the most prevalent reason for STRs/SARs filings was suspicious activity, which accounted for 301 persons, “followed by tax evasion (211 persons), fraud (196 persons), money laundering (155 persons) and drug trafficking (35 persons).” The Minister further disclosed that these accounted for 94 percent of the total STRs/SARs received by the FIUTT and 60 per cent of the total monetary value of all STRs/SARs submitted.
Regarding the type of transaction, it was revealed that 844 reports were completed transactions while 195 were attempted transactions, valued at TTD $1,586,346,802 and $350,864,255 respectively. However, 16 STRs/SARs contained both completed and attempted transactions. He further stated that “this represented a 24 percent decrease in completed transactions and a 68 percent decrease in attempted transactions when compared to the previous reporting period.”
Minister Imbert also highlighted that there was an increase in requests from foreign law enforcement agencies and FIUs with the local FIU for cooperation on these matters. More specifically, the requests were related to 85 subjects in comparison to 26 for the comparative period in 2021. Four (4) other requests sought intelligence on 34 subjects. Requests from foreign authorities originated mainly originated in the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. Similarly, the FIUTT sent 23 requests about 45 subjects to foreign authorities for financial intelligence and information to foreign authorities mainly in the Caribbean, the Americas and Asia. The requests sent included 11 cases of suspected fraud and five (5) cases of drug trafficking.
Additionally, the FIUTT disseminated 12 spontaneous disclosures to foreign FIUs and law enforcement agencies. Minister Imbert said, “the spontaneous dissemination of intelligence was linked to the suspected criminal conduct related to fraud and money laundering, accounting for 83 per cent and 17 percent of the total number of spontaneous intelligence reports disseminated, respectively.” He also noted that the FIUTT has 36 Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with foreign FIUs, with the most recent being with the superintendency of banks in Guatemala in 2022.
The Minister indicated that the FIUTT reported higher levels of compliance with anti-money laundering, counter terrorism financing and counter proliferation financing. However, based on Quarterly Property Terrorist Reports (QTRs) which continued to be implemented during its reporting period, he added that “there is a need for improved compliance by the credit union sector.” There were 457 new entities were registered with the FIUTT, with the highest number of new registrants coming from the real estate and attorney-at-law sectors.
Minister Imbert said that the FIU will improve its internal operations and “place priority on matters relating to increasing the number of intelligence products to a wider section of stakeholders.”