Wed | Jan 20, 2021

FID real-time tracking

Published:Sunday | October 11, 2020 | 12:11 AM

Selvin Hay, chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division.
Selvin Hay, chief technical director of the Financial Investigations Division.

Cash movements above $1 million are generally flagged in Jamaica under anti-money laundering rules, and now the Financial Investigations Division, FID, which polices financial crimes, says it now has the capacity to track such transactions in real time.

The FID’s ‘goAML’ platform went live on September 1, said the agency’s Chief Technical Director Selvin Hay.

The online intelligence system, which collects and disseminates data, is a response tool developed by the United Nations Office on Drugs & Crime, UNODC, for use by financial intelligence units to better manage financial crimes, including money laundering and terrorist financing.

Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, POCA, and the Terrorism Prevention Act, TPA, financial institutions are required to report suspicious transactions – referred to as STRs – involving individuals designated as terrorists or who live in countries that are deemed to be involved in suspicious activities. In addition, any transaction over US$10,000 or $1 million that is outside of the normal business of an individual or entity must be reported.

“We’re living in a changed world. Under the POCA and the TPA certain activities regarding transactions have been criminalised,” said Hay. “It is therefore incumbent on us to act within the law, knowing that transactions over a million dollars will attract attention,” he said.

The effect of online reporting, according to Hay, is that even a cash withdrawal from a bank of more than US$10,000 or $1 million can trigger an investigation. With goAML, it has immediate access to information as the transaction is logged.

Previously, reporting would have been largely paper-based, making it a tedious process for the reporting entities and the FID’s team of analysts.

“The game has changed such that financial institutions can now report suspicious transactions online in real time. We are therefore past the time when we relied on paper reports. It allows for faster and more efficient handing of reports, in that there is better storage and retrieval. That lends itself to better analysis and speedier investigations,” Hay said.

He says that since goAML’s introduction, the transaction reports have been flowing in as projected.

The cost of the system including software, hardware infrastructure, along with servers and system upgrades, was approximately US$900,000. Funding was provided through USAID.