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Tuesday 17 October 2017

Revealed: Where Ireland ranks in Europe for money laundering

The report found Ireland has the ninth highest number of financial transactions linked to money laundering or terrorist financing
The report found Ireland has the ninth highest number of financial transactions linked to money laundering or terrorist financing

Ryan O'Rourke

Ireland ranks in the top ten for financial transactions linked to money laundering or terrorist financing in the European Union, according to a new Europol report.

The number of financial transactions investigated by gardaí nearly doubled between 2006 and 2014.

Ireland is also the third highest for reports relating to the suspected financing of terrorism, according to the EU police agency.

In 2014, the EU Financial Intelligence Units received almost 1 million reports from across the continent. 

However, on average, just 10pc of suspicious transaction reports are further investigated by authorities.

Altogether, the overall system leads to only 1pc of criminal proceeds being confiscated by gardaí and other European authorities.

Between 2006 and 2014, Ireland recorded 120,971 suspicious transactions.

These numbers increased from 10,403 in 2006 to 18,302 in 2014, the ninth highest out of 28 states.

In Ireland a total of 586 (4pc) of the suspicious transactions reports in 2013, and 618 (3pc) in 2014 related to terrorist financing.

This is the third highest in Europe and compared to an average of 0.6pc. The report said more reports were being collected, rising from 590,800 in 2009 to 960,500 in 2014 which indicated reporting authorities taking their roles seriously.

“Clearly there is no lack of activity, and a great deal of time and resources are put into sending, receiving and handling millions of reports each year," Europol Executive Director Rob Wainwright said.

"However, the fact that very few are either the result of a police-directed effort or the subject of any significant feedback indicates that resources may be misdirected, “he said.

The information gathered was supplied by 28 EU states, documenting suspicious transactions reports filed by financial institutions, professional offices and designated cash-based industries.

Certain countries “notably Cyprus and Malta”, receive very few suspicious transactions reports.

This is despite the size of their banking sectors and the significance of these jurisdictions in offshore financial services.

“The anti-money laundering regime still operates at a domestic level, and has not yet fully adjusted to the reality of a problem that is defined by its international nature," Mr Wainwright said.

"While structures exist to facilitate cross-border cooperation between national units, significant barriers in international cooperation and information exchange remain, revealing the urgent need for supranational overview in increasingly global markets."

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