Monday 21 October 2019

Financial firms report 23,000 suspicious deals

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Frank McGrath
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Frank McGrath

Gordon Deegan

Financial institutions here and other designated bodies reported 23,422 suspicious financial transactions to gardaí and the Revenue Commissioners last year, a drop of 5pc from 2017.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe confirmed the number in a written Dáil reply to Clare Daly TD.

Mr Donohoe also confirmed that the yield to the Revenue Commissioners from audit cases involving Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) totalled €5.5m in 2017 and the figures for 2018 will be available in May.

Designated bodies - including banks, credit unions, auctioneers and bookies - are required to submit a Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) to the Revenue Commissioners and the gardai where they have a suspicion that a money-laundering offence may have been committed.

"Tax evasion is a predicate offence for money laundering. In cases where the STR relates to other criminal activity it becomes a matter for An Garda Síochána," the minister said.

Mr Donohoe confirmed that the 23,422 STRs recorded last year was a 5pc drop on the 24,232 STRs recorded in 2017.

However, last year's total is the second-highest annual total since 2009. The figures show that 22,607s were recorded in 2016; 21,358 in 2015; 18,149 in 2014; 14,688 in 2013; 12,175 in 2012; 11,070 in 2011; 13,395 in 2010 and 14,117 in 2009.

The minister confirmed that the STRs received from designated bodies, including financial institutions, are made under the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Funding) Act.

Mr Donohoe said: "On receipt by Revenue, all STRs are linked to the relevant taxpayer's record, assigned a risk rating, and the data is incorporated into each taxpayer's risk profile, informing Revenue's decision as to the nature of any compliance intervention that may be appropriate having regards to the overall risk."

He added: "I do not consider that there is a link that can be usefully made between the level of STRs reported to Revenue and the need for vigilance by members of the public to protect themselves against the effort of fraudsters to get access to their money."

The Minister pointed out that he is aware that Revenue regularly highlights the importance of taxpayers taking appropriate steps to safeguard their personal financial or banking details.

He emphasised that Revenue will never seek to acquire those details over the phone.

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