The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) is the national central agency in Malta responsible for receiving, analyzing, and disseminating financial intelligence to combat money laundering and terrorism financing. It was founded on October 1, 2002.
|Analiżi ta' intelliġenza finanzjarja|
|Formed||October 1, 2002|
|Headquarters||Financial Intelligence Unit, 65C, Tower Road, Birkirkara, BKR 4012|
|Annual budget||€11.5 million|
Powers and functionsEdit
The FIAU collects financial intelligence and passes it on to the police, who can then carry out criminal investigations or arrest/prosecute any person. The FIAU also exchanges information with foreign financial intelligence agencies and supervisory authorities in Malta or overseas to investigate suspicious financial activities.
As an administrative intelligence agency, FIAU can demand and collect information from any individual, authority, or entity, including the police, government ministry, public department/agency, and any supervisory authority. Such a demand for information "overrides any obligation of secrecy or confidentiality under any other law."
FIAU operates independently and its activities are not disclosed on the public domain.
In 2022, FIAU organized its first international conference of bank account register administrators and other specialists from 21 European countries, which was endorsed by the European Commission.
Notable cases and controversiesEdit
According to its 2019 annual report, the FIAU forwarded 61 cases of money laundering to the police for investigation. In addition, it received more than 2,500 suspicious transaction reports from banks, legal professionals, casinos, gaming companies and real estate agencies, up by 65% from the previous year.
The Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit operates opposite Malta's financial entities. One of its primary responsibilities is enforcing Anti-Money Laundering (AML) legislation. Over the years, the FIAU expanded the criteria for violations under said legislation, leading to increased administrative penalties. Administrative penalties in 2021 increased to €12.4 million from €4.7 million in 2020, creating speculations among experts in the financial sector that FIAU is enjoying the "moral authority to impose fines."
The FIAU gained media attention due to its case against Pilatus Bank in 2018. In September 2022, Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, won his case in front of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes, which recommended a suspension of all proceedings by Malta against Ali Sadr until it decided on the case, after he claimed that he was wrongfully prosecuted by the Maltese financial authorities.
- ^ a b "FIAU Malta". Retrieved December 31, 2022.
- ^ a b c d "FIAU clarifies its functions and powers on tackling money laundering". The Malta Independent. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
- ^ "Commission requests Maltese anti-money laundering watchdog to step up supervision of banks". European Commission. Retrieved January 1, 2023.
- ^ "FIAU brings 21 countries together in first-ever bank account register conference". Malta Today. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
- ^ "FIAU flagged 61 cases of suspected money laundering to the police". Malta Today. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
- ^ Cordina, John Paul (June 21, 2022). "Fines issued by FIAU more than double in 2021". Newsbook. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
- ^ "Can the FIAU be challenged?". Mifsud and Mifsud Advocates. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
- ^ "FIAU issued fines totalling €12.4 million in 2021, notes courts overruling penalties". The Malta Independent. Retrieved January 31, 2023.
- ^ "International body orders pause to all proceedings against Pilatus' Ali Sadr". Times of Malta. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
- ^ "Ali Sadr Has A Case Against Malta". EconoTimes. August 7, 2022. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
- ^ "Ali Sadr SLAPPs Malta police, criminal proceedings 'suspended'". The Shift. Retrieved December 31, 2022.
- ^ Balzan, Jurgen (September 18, 2022). "Former Pilatus Bank owner blocks Malta's legal proceedings against him". Newsbook. Retrieved December 31, 2022.