Money Launderers come from all walks in life, to name but a few, there are: Bankers, Legal Firms, Accountants, Management Companies, Garages, and then there is crypto-currency. Drug Monies must be cleaned. Hopefully our Gardai are on top of the Millions being moved around?

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Massive increase in reports of money laundering

Banks and financial institutions reported over 24,000 suspect transactions in 2017

Gardaí charged 42 people with 168 money-laundering offences in 2017.

Gardaí charged 42 people with 168 money-laundering offences in 2017.

Banks and other financial institutions reported more than 24,000 transactions involving suspected money laundering to the authorities last year, double the number reported five years ago.

The transactions ranged from the proceeds of suspected social welfare fraud and minor drug dealing being lodged into credit union accounts to suspected cases of terrorism financing and money laundering by major drug gangs.

All banks, credit unions and lenders must monitor customer accounts and report suspicious transactions and lodgements to the Revenue Commissioners and the Garda Financial Intelligence Unit.

According to data provided to The Irish Times by the Department of Justice, 24,398 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) were made to gardaí in 2017 while 24,232 were reported to the Revenue Commissioners.

A department spokesman explained the difference of 166 arose because not all STRs were reported to both the Garda and the Revenue Commissioners despite this being a legal requirement.

The 2017 figure was only slightly up on the 23,308 STRs in 2016 but significantly greater than the 12,390 reported in 2012, shortly after the STR system came online. The increase in reporting is a result of both greater awareness of the reporting requirements and better detection systems.

Cryptocurrencies

The Central Bank has also expressed concern that online banking and cryptocurrencies may be resulting in increased money laundering.

While the number of STRs was only marginally up on 2016, the number of people prosecuted for money laundering more than doubled last year. Gardaí charged 42 people with 168 money-laundering offences in 2017. In 2016, they charged just 18 people with 22 offences.

Money-laundering investigators also charged one man, Hassan Bal, with financing Islamic State in 2017. Last month Bal was jailed for 2½ years.

The increased Garda targeting of money-laundering offences is possibly a reaction to an assessment last year by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) – an intergovernmental body which develops anti-money laundering policy – that Ireland has a low number of convictions for the offence.

Gardaí prosecuted just 42 money-laundering cases between 2011 and October 2016. No one has ever been convicted after a trial here, with most opting to plead guilty. Two cases ended in acquittals.

According the FATF report the Director of Public Prosecutions believed there were major issues in prosecuting such cases as it is very difficult to prove a person’s intentions, or “mens rea”, when they lodge ill-gotten gains in a financial institution.

FATF also noted in cases where minor money laundering is a result of another offence, such as drug dealing, the DPP prefers to charge the accused with the originating offence only.

The Central Bank can fine financial institutions which fail to put in place effective anti-money laundering procedures up to €10 million.

Reputational cost

Added to this is the reputational and legal cost to companies which can be “astronomical” according to Joseph Shannon, chief executive of Compliance Ireland, which advises firms on money-laundering regulations.

He said: “It can be huge. Will customers come to you afterwards, will your stock prices fall, will you be able to onboard [take on] blue-chip clients?”

Anti-money laundering rules are to become even stricter with the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Amendment Bill 2018, which is expected to become law by the end of the year, Mr Shannon said.

Under the new rules financial institutions must give increased scrutiny to “politically exposed persons” – people who are exposed to potential bribery and other financial crimes. The list includes TDs, diplomats, senior judges and senior military officers, along with their partners.

Next Wednesday, Minister of State for Financial Services Michael D’Arcy will open a conference organised by Compliance Ireland on how companies can ensure they are in line with the new regulations.

Varadkar has taken the office of Irish Taoiseach, with his Indian background to a new low.  He cannot accept that he lost the Election 2020 and he is now attacking decent Sinn Fein TD’s and the people who voted them in, literally as fraudsters and gangsters.  Hysterical is putting it mildly.  Hopefully Leo does not have mad cow disease; it was in Belmullet many years ago, all he needs to do is ask Mattie the Ram.  Varadkar made a bizarre statement that Sinn Fein TD’s are living way beyond their means.  Here is a simple question Leo:  How? and Where?  Now let us have a little look at the Blueshirts.  Former TD now Reject Regina Doherty and her husband are no examples of how to run a private company; they certainly ended up in the High Court and the Judge did say “this company and monies owed was run appallingly”.  Then we have Mr Perri – we will not go into any details here but I am amazed he never saw porridge.  Then Garret the waffler had £1.8 million waivered by AIB.  Now Leo – you have tried every dirty game in the book, not forgetting you called Micheal Martin, the old dirty priest going behind the altar and having a blankety blank!   Just try and behave like a man and stop being pure bitchy.  Forget Paddies Day in the White House and let Dustin the Turkey go instead of you.    What more can Fred say today?  Just wash your hands as often as possible; keep away from airports and if you shake the hand of a TD go to the nearest fire station and get a hose down.  Fred

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