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USEFUL TERMS

  • AML-Anti-Money Laundering
  • ATF-Anti-Terrorist Financing
  • CALP-Caribbean Anti-Money Laundering Program
  • CFATF-Caribbean Financial Action Task Force
  • CFT-Counter-Financing of Terrorism
  • DNFBPs-Designated Non-Financial Business and Professions
  • EFT – Electronic Funds Transfers
  • FATF- The Financial Action Task Force is an inter-governmental body whose purpose is the development and promotion of national and international policies to combat money laundering and terrorist financing.
  • FATF 40+9 recommendations- series of 40+9 recommendations developed by the FATF for universal application. The 40 set out guidelines for AML and the 9 set guidelines for CFT
  • FinCEN- Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (United States)
  • FINTRAC-The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada
  • IFSA- International Financial Services Authority
  • IMF- International Monetary Fund
  • KYC- Know Your Customer
  • LCTR- Large Cash Transaction Report: issued to the FIU when deposited or transferred funds are above the jurisdiction’s reporting threshold
  • MEV- Mutual Evaluation
  • ML-Money Laundering
  • MLAT- Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty
  • MOU- Memorandum of Understanding
  • MSB-Money Services Business
  • NAMLC- National Anti- Money Laundering Committee
  • NCCT- Non-Co-operative Countries and Territories
  • PEPs- Politically Exposed Persons
  • REDTRAC- Caribbean Regional Drug Law Enforcement Training Center
  • Reporting Threshold- Determined nationally, the minimum amount of money deposited or transferred requiring that a large cash transaction be reported to the FIU.
  • SAR- Suspicious Activity Report
  • TF- Terrorist Financing
  • TRA- Threat and Risk Assessment
  • Typologies- Methods and trends used by money launderers and terrorist financers to move their cash
  • UNODC- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime

Obtaining assistance from the FIU

If a requesting country requires information regarding matters in St.Vincent and the Grenadines for intelligence purposes only, upon receipt of the request via the Egmont secure web or other means, a formal letter of request is sent to the requisite body on the country’s behalf and the response relayed to them.

If however the information is required for use in Court proceedings, a formal request whether via Mutual Legal Assistance Request or Letter Rogatoire must be sent to the Central Authority of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, the Honourable Attorney General.

This request would then be forwarded to the office of the FIU where we would seek to execute the request, based on its terms whether for the seizure of property or the provision of information in which case we seek to obtain a Production Order from the Court as provided for in our legislation, outlining the reasons why the information is required as provided by the requesting country. If the Judge is so minded, the Order is granted then served on the Institution from whom the information is requested, compelling them to provide the requested information within a certain time period, usually ten (10) days. The information is then sent to our office and we in turn forward it to you.

St.Vincent and the Grenadines provides for mutual assistance in Criminal matters between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries and St.Vincent and the Grenadines by way of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, Act No.46 of 1993. The Act covers requests for General assistance in obtaining evidence, Locating or identifying persons, Obtaining articles or things by search and seizure if necessary, Arranging attendance of persons, Securing transfer of persons, Serving documents, Restriction on use of evidence, Immunities and privileges. Assistance in serious offences covers Tracing property, certain orders and obtaining orders in nature of Restraining Orders.

St.Vincent and the Grenadines has been party to a Bi-Lateral Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters with the United States of America since 1998. This Treaty has been the basis for the facilitation of numerous Mutual Legal Assistance Requests between both countries.

Another piece of local legislation is the Exchange of Information Act 2008 which states that a domestic regulatory authority of whom a request is made shall not exercise the powers conferred unless, in relation to a request for assistance by a foreign regulatory authority, the nature and seriousness of the matter to which the inquiry relates would warrant the disclosure of the information by a domestic regulatory authority if such information were to be requested in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and one or more of the following conditions are satisfied, namely that, the assistance is necessary for the purpose of enabling or assisting another domestic regulatory authority or a foreign regulatory authority in the exercise of its regulatory functions; the assistance requested by a foreign regulatory authority is pursuant to an agreement to which St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the State of the foreign regulatory authority are parties; the foreign regulatory authority gives a written undertaking to provide corresponding assistance to a domestic regulatory authority and fourth, the State of the requesting foreign regulatory authority has enacted similar laws with regard to the exchange of information.

St.Vincent and the Grenadines’ FIU has signed a number of Memoranda of Understanding with its Regional and International counterparts. However, pursuant to the Financial Intelligence Unit Act, No.38 of 2001, the Act under which the FIU was set up, it is not restricted in the sharing of information to only those FIUs with whom MOUs are signed.

Structure of the Organization

There is a Director, Deputy Director, a legal Department, an Analytical Department, an Investigative Department

with Police and Customs Officers and an Administrative Department.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

General

What is Money Laundering?

Money Laundering is the process by which monies generated by criminal activities are converted through legitimate channels into assets that cannot be easily traced back to their illegal origins. “Dirty” money is introduced into the commercial financial system (Placement), then placed in a banking system and mixed with legitimate sums through a series of transactions meant to disguise the origin of the funds (Layering) and then the illegitimate funds are returned to the legitimate economy (Integration).

What is Terrorist Financing?

Terrorist Financing is financial support, in any form, of terrorists or those who encourage, plan or engage in terrorism. Terrorist groups get funding mainly from two sources: Organizations, countries and individuals providing financial support and legitimate activities which include charities and non-profit organizations, import and exports, sale of publications, valid employment, subscriptions and memberships, precious metals and stones

What are Financial Institutions and Relevant Businesses?

These include:

  • Banks
  • Offshore Banks
  • Building societies
  • Insurance companies
  • Credit unions
  • Money transmission services
  • Investment business
  • Trusts and other fiduciary services
  • Foreign exchange
  • Car dealerships
  • Jewelers
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Casinos
  • Internet Gambling
  • Lottery Agents
  • Barristers-at-Law and Solicitors
  • Accountants
  • Charities

Privacy and Protection of Information

What does the FIU do with SARs?

As outlined in the Guidance Notes, the FIU promptly acknowledges receipt of the report then forwards it to trained Financial Investigators who alone will have access to it. The Financial Investigators may seek further information from the reporting institution and elsewhere. Discreet inquiries are made by the FIU to confirm the basis of the suspicion but the customer is never approached. The FIU will keep the reporting institution informed of the interim and final result of the investigation.

How does the FIU protect the personal information of private citizens?

The FIU ensures that the information it is mandated to receive and hold is protected from unauthorized use and disclosure; employees are liable for the offence of “tipping off” under the POCA if information obtained as a result of their employment is disclosed. The FIU Act also sets out severe penalties for unauthorized use and disclosure of information. Additionally, information related to SARs is not disclosed outside the FIU without prior approval of Director.

Reporting to the FIU and other obligations

How do entities make reports to the FIU?

If the Reporting Officer of the entity decides that a disclosure should be made, a report is made in the prescribed form. Each institution receives SAR forms which they fill out and return by hand.

Am I liable if I make a report?

When made in good faith, the financial institutions or persons engaged in relevant business activities and their employees, staff, directors, owners or other representatives as authorized by law, are exempt from criminal, civil or administrative liability.

HOWEVER failure to report a suspicious transaction is an offence.

Do I have to report a suspicious financial transaction that was not completed?

The POCA states that every financial institution or person engaged in relevant business activity must pay special attention to all complex, unusual or large transactions, whether completed or not, and to all unusual patterns of transactions, and to insignificant but periodic patterns of transactions, which have no apparent economic or lawful purpose.

How often are reporting entities required to update client information?

With regard to continued verification of accounts, once you have verified the identity of the applicant no further verification of identity is needed once the applicant maintains a business relationship on a regular basis. You must monitor the business relationship to ensure that it is consistent with the stated account purposes and business. Where there has been no recent contact with the person within a period of 5 years, you should confirm the identity of the account holder.

How long must I keep records?

The entity must keep evidence of the person’s identity for a minimum of 7 years after the day on which the account was closed or after the day on which the transaction recorded takes place, and records or copies thereof of the details relating to the business that may assist in a ML investigation. However, if the FIU has notified a regulated institution in writing that particular records are or may be relevant to an investigation that is being carried out, the records are to be retained pending the outcome of the investigation.

INTERNATIONAL CO-OPERATION

St.Vincent and the Grenadines has been a member of The Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units since July 2003. It is an informal international gathering of financial intelligence units (FIUs). The Group was formed in 1995 and consists of 116 countries which have created FIUs. The FIUs are responsible for collecting information on suspicious or unusual financial activity from the financial industry and other entities required to report transactions suspected to be related to money laundering or terrorist financing.

Obtaining assistance from the FIU

If a requesting country requires information regarding matters in St.Vincent and the Grenadines for intelligence purposes only, upon receipt of the request via Egmont or other means, a formal letter of request is sent to the requisite body on the country’s behalf and the response relayed to them.

If however the information is required for use in Court proceedings, a formal request must be sent to the Central Authority of St.Vincent and the Grenadines, the Honourable Attorney General.

This request would then be forwarded to the office of the FIU where we would seek to obtain a Production Order from the Court as provided for in our legislation, outlining the reasons why the information is required as provided by the requesting country. If the Judge is so minded, the Order is granted then served on the Institution from whom the information is requested, compelling them to provide the requested information within a certain time period, usually ten (10) days. The information is then sent to our office and we in turn forward it to you.

SVG provides for mutual assistance in Criminal matters between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries and St.Vincent and the Grenadines by way of the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters, Cap 177 of the Revised Laws of 2009. The Act covers requests for General assistance in obtaining evidence, locating or identifying persons, Obtaining articles or things by search and seizure if necessary, Arranging attendance of persons, Securing transfer of persons, Serving documents, Restriction on use of evidence, Immunities and privileges. Assistance in serious offences covers Tracing property, certain orders and obtaining orders in nature of Restraining Orders.

Another piece of local legislation is the Exchange of Information Act, Cap 146 of the Revised Laws of 2009 which states that a domestic regulatory authority of whom a request is made shall not exercise the powers conferred unless, in relation to a request for assistance by a foreign regulatory authority, the nature and seriousness of the matter to which the inquiry relates would warrant the disclosure of the information by a domestic regulatory authority if such information were to be requested in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and one or more of the following conditions are satisfied, namely that, the assistance is necessary for the purpose of enabling or assisting another domestic regulatory authority or a foreign regulatory authority in the exercise of its regulatory functions; the assistance requested by a foreign regulatory authority is pursuant to an agreement to which Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and the State of the foreign regulatory authority are parties; the foreign regulatory authority gives a written undertaking to provide corresponding assistance to a domestic regulatory authority and fourth, the State of the requesting foreign regulatory authority has enacted similar laws with regard to the exchange of information.

What is the FIU?

The FIU was established in May 2002, pursuant to the provisions of the FIU Act 2001. It is the national/centralized agency for the collection, analysis and dissemination of suspicious transaction reports.

Money laundering and terrorist financing are serious international issues which threaten right to life, civil liberties and the right to property. St Vincent and the Grenadines has

joined countries around the world to attack money laundering and terrorist financing and those who would seek to benefit from these criminal acts. A Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has been established in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The functions of this specialized agency include receipt and analysis of suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) which may relate to money laundering or terrorist financing and the investigation of money laundering, terrorist financing and other serious financial crimes.

The Unit will be managed to fulfill its functions under the FIU Act and in making an impact in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, locally regionally and internationally. Our vision is to have financial and business sectors that are free of money laundering and terrorist financing and other major financial crime. To achieve this goal we will work closely with financial institutions and relevant business entities that are required to report suspicious transactions to the FIU. The financial institutions in St Vincent and the Grenadines have a key role to play in the fight against money laundering and in ensuring that the country’s financial system is seen as a sound and healthy system, which is conducive to investment. The staff of the FIU is ready to assist the financial and business sectors to fulfill their anti-money laundering obligations. The FIU is working in close partnership with other national agencies to ensure that the country has a comprehensive anti-money laundering and counter financing of terrorism regime that identifies and effectively addresses suspected illegal activity.

The FIU is also committed to active cooperation with foreign FIUs and law enforcement agencies against money laundering and terrorist funding. We understand and appreciate the global nature of money laundering and other financially based crimes and we will continue to strengthen our cooperative effort, both in the Caribbean region and in the wider international community.

The intent of the FIU is to put the criminals out of business by draining their resources: to take the profit out of crime.

Carla James

Director
Financial Intelligence Unit

Key milestones to date

  • February 2016 - First Civil Cash Forfeiture Appeal Decision
  • January 2016 - Civil Asset Recovery Division launched
  • December 2015 - First Confiscation Order obtained
  • October 2015 - Proclamation of the Anti-Terrorist Financing and Proliferation Act, 2015
  • January 2015 - Money laundering charges emanating from SARs
  • April 2014 - Proclamation of the Proceeds of Crime Act, 2013
  • May 2012 - 10th Anniversary of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) & Launch of Commemorative Magazine & Pins
  • March 2012 - Two (2) money laundering convictions in the matter involving the largest cash seizure in the OECS - US$1,733,463.
  • November 2011 - Court of Appeal dismissed a motion contesting the constitutionality of the Proceeds of Crime and Money laundering (Prevention) Act 2001 (PCMLP Act)
  • May 2010 - Launch of FIU Website
  • April 2008 - Largest cash seizure in the OECS - US$1,733,463.
  • September 2006- FIU Act and the United Nations (Anti-Terrorism Measures) Act 2002 are amended to formally make the FIU the national centralized agency for the reporting of all suspicious activity related to terrorism and the financing of terrorism.
  • March 2006- First successful prosecution for money laundering offences and first confiscation and forfeitures under the PCMLP Act
  • 2004, 2005, 2006- Caribbean Anti-money Laundering Programme in 2004 Credits SVG’s FIU as one of the leading FIUs in the Caribbean Region. This accolade is repeated by the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) in 2005 and 2006.
  • August 2003- FIU Customs Officers fully accredited as financial investigators
  • July 2003- FIU admitted as a member of the Egmont Group of International FIUs
  • June 2003- Removal of St.Vincent and the Grenadines form the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) list of Non-Co-operative Countries and Territories (NCCT)
  • September 2002- Money Laundering Guidance Notes finalized
  • August 2002- FIU moved into new purpose designed accommodation
  • May 2002- FIU Police Officers fully accredited as financial investigators
  • May 2002- FIU established
  • December 2001- Financial Intelligence Unit Act 2001 (FIU Act) enacted
  • December 2001- PCMLP Act came into operation

Website Assessment Form

Training Assessment

Mission Statement

To contribute to the economic and social stability of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines by safeguarding its financial system from abuse; by deterring the incidents of money laundering, terrorist financing and other serious crimes through the analysis of SARs, the adoption of best practices, implementation of AML and CFT measures, increasing public awareness, working with financial institutions, regulated entities,  law enforcement and regulatory authorities locally, regionally and internationally, with the aim of taking the profit out of crime.

Vision Statement

To be recognized as a leading  FIU in the global fight against money laundering, terrorist financing and other serious crimes by engaging in tactical and strategic intelligence gathering and sharing, thus adding value to the investigative and prosecutorial processes on the national, regional and international levels, while maintaining a high level of confidentiality, integrity and professionalism.