Financial Intelligence Unit receives almost 6,200 reports in 2019

Chart illustrating the use of Estonian businesses and bank accounts in an international money laundering scheme.
Chart illustrating the use of Estonian businesses and bank accounts in an international money laundering scheme. Source: Financial Intelligence Unit/PPA

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) received a total of 6,164 reports of alleged irregularities in 2019, over 1,000 reports more than in 2018.

Three quarters of reports received in 2019 were suspicion-based, 15 percent were cash transaction reports and one tenth were inquiries, it appears from the FIU's 2019 yearbook.

Suspicion-based reports were dominated by reports of suspected money laundering — suspicious transaction reports (STR), unusual transaction reports (UTR) and unusual activity reports (UAR). There were 370 terrorist financing reports, and 88 reports on the suspicion of being subject to the International Sanctions Act.

As in previous years, the majority of reports sent to the FIU in 2019 came from credit and financial institutions. Over the past three years, the number and share of reports sent by credit institutions, gambling operators and foreign authorities have increased, while the share of reports sent by financial institutions has decreased.

The reporting activity of credit institutions, gambling operators and notaries increased significantly in 2019 compared to the previous year. For instance, the FIU received 168 reports from notaries in 2018 and 394 reports in 2019.

In 2019, credit institutions clearly dominated as senders of reports related to money laundering. Most of the reports on terrorist financing were sent by financial institutions in relation to transactions made with countries with a high risk of terrorist financing or persons originating from such countries.

The majority of threshold-based reports were likewise sent by financial institutions. There have been no significant changes in these trends in recent years.

In 2019, the most common reason for sending a money laundering suspicion report was an unusual transaction in an account, followed by the fact that a person was suspected of money laundering or did not provide sufficient explanations to comply with due diligence measures.

Since the beginning of 2020, the FIU has been using a new methodology for reports statistics, and thus the figures will differ slightly from those published in previous yearbooks. There were a number of changes to the methodology.

Firstly, reports received through cross-border dissemination (XBD) are no longer included in the list of reports. Secondly, while the number of reports in previous yearbooks was calculated on the basis of the date of registration of the report in the FIU, from 2020 onwards the date on which the report was sent to the FIU will be used as the basis. In addition, the system of types and indicators of suspicion was fundamentally changed. With the transition to the new system, the information on the indicators is not fully comparable with previous years.

As in the past, reports are subdivided by sum and suspicion, with the latter containing not only suspected money laundering, suspected terrorist financing and suspected international sanctions, but also inquiries.

Since mid-2019, in the case of reports that concern money laundering, a distinction has been made between suspicious transaction reports (STRs), unusual transaction reports (UTRs) and unusual activity reports (UARs). For reports related to terrorist financing, a distinction is made between reports related to unusual transactions (TF_UAR) and reports related to suspected terrorist financing (TFR).

13 persons convicted of money laundering

Nine court decisions on money laundering entered into force in Estonia last year, which saw the conviction of 13 persons, including 12 individuals and one legal person.

In three cases, the predicate offense of money laundering was computer fraud, in two cases it was fraud, in two cases tax fraud, and in one case, accepting a bribe. The text of one ruling has not yet been published by the court due to another pending judicial procedure.

In 2019, property was confiscated from seven persons convicted of money laundering. A total of approximately €470,000, as well as other assets, such as real estate, vehicles and computers, were seized.

Two persons, including one individual and one legal person, who had been suspected of money laundering were acquitted in 2019 as prosecutors withdrew charges

A total of 16 people and entities, including 14 individuals and two legal persons were convicted of money laundering in Estonia in 2018. That year, a total of nine court decisions on money laundering entered into force, and assets worth a total of €266,000 were seized.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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