Over the past decade and beyond, the need for a modern anti-money-laundering strategy has become widely accepted internationally. Depriving criminal elements of the proceeds of their crimes has increasingly been seen as an important tool to combat drug trafficking and, more recently, as a critical element in fighting organized crime, corruption, and the financing of terrorism, and maintaining the integrity of financial markets. The first few financial intelligence units (FIUs) were established in the early 1990s in response to the need for countries to have a central agency to receive, analyze, and disseminate financial information to combat money laundering. Over the ensuing period, the number of FIUs has continued to increase, reaching 84 in 2003. This handbook responds to the need for information on FIUs. It provides references to the appropriate Financial ActionTask Force (FATF) standards wherever appropriate.
Voici plusieurs décennies que la nécessité d'une stratégie moderne de lutte contre le blanchiment de capitaux a été largement admise au niveau international. Le fait de priver les éléments criminels du produit de leurs crimes a été considéré de plus en plus comme un outil important pour lutter contre le trafic de stupéfiants et, plus récemment, comme un élément essentiel de la lutte contre le crime organisé, la corruption et le financement du terrorisme, ainsi que de la préservation de l'intégrité des marchés de capitaux. Les toutes premières cellules de renseignements financiers (CRF) ont été créées au début des années 90 en réponse à la nécessité pour les pays de disposer d'un organisme central pour la réception l'analyse et la diffusion d'informations financières en vue de lutter contre le blanchiment de capitaux. Au cours de la période qui a suivi, le nombre de CRF a continué d'augmenter : on en comptait 84 en 2003. Ce manuel répond aux besoins d'informations sur les CRF. Les informations fournies incluent le cas échéant des renvois aux normes pertinentes du GAFI.
Since the mid-1980s, the need for a modern anti-money-laundering strategy has become widely accepted internationally. The negotiations of the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances can be seen as the starting point of this trend. Depriving criminal elements of the proceeds of their crimes has increasingly been seen as an important tool to combat drug trafficking and, more recently, all serious crimes. Progress in this area is becoming a critical element in fighting organized crime, corruption, and the financing of terrorism, and maintaining the integrity of financial markets.
In their simplest form, FIUs are agencies that receive reports of suspicious transactions from financial institutions and other persons and entities, analyze them, and disseminate the resulting intelligence to local law-enforcement agencies and foreign FIUs to combat money laundering (see Figure 1).
Although they vary in many ways, FIUs share a common definition, which refers to their basic function: serving as a national center for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of information regarding money laundering and the financing of terrorism. These three functions are the core functions shared by all FIUs recognized by the Egmont Group. The definition of FIUs based on their core functions was first formalized by the Egmont Group in 1996.39 Similar definitions, also based on the three core functions, have now been incorporated in the revised FATF Recommendations of June 200340 and in two global conventions.41
Although all Egmont Group member FIUs have the three core functions of receiving suspicious transaction and other reports, analyzing them, and disseminating the resulting financial intelligence, some FIUs are also entrusted with other functions. Five of these other functions are discussed below: monitoring compliance with AML/CFT requirements, blocking transactions, training of reporting-entity staff on reporting and other AML/CFT obligations, conducting research, and enhancing public awareness of AML/CFT issues.
Once an FIU is established and has been functioning for a while, it becomes necessary to assess its effectiveness as well as that of the country’s entire AML/CFT system. Such assessments should be conducted periodically to ensure that the FIU and the system as a whole are continuously striving to improve their effectiveness, This is consistent with good public sector management policy and is now also an FATF standard.173
Assessments of AML/CFT frameworks have been carried out since the first round of mutual evaluations of FATF members began in 1992, and FIUs have been included in these assessments from the beginning. A review by the FATF of the first two rounds of mutual evaluations of its members stated that the suspicious-transaction reporting system and its associated FIUs were “the driving force in many anti-money laundering regimes” and that the FIU was “central to the anti-money-laundering efforts of almost all members.”176 Assessments of AML/CFT regimes, including FIUs, are now being conducted globally on the basis of a recognized set of standards and procedures.
Fius are an essential component of the international fight against money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and related crime. Their ability to transform data into financial intelligence is a key element in the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The place of FIUs is now well established in the arsenal of measures to combat these serious crimes. Yet FIUs face a number of challenges.