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Anti-money laundering reports boomed in 2016, Bank of Italy handled more than 100,000

by Marzio Bartoloni

In recent years, there has been a “trend of exceptional growth in the influx of reports which, in 2016, reached 101,065 overall, a level eight times higher than was reported when the FIU (the Financial Intelligence Unit, a component of Banca d’Italia that was founded ten years ago) was established.” Claudio Clemente, Director of the FIU (which serves to fight money laundering) reported this at the presentation of the Annual Report on the Unit’s activities in 2016. He claims that 60,000 of these reports (70% overall) were deemed to be “of investigatory interest” by the Financial Guard’s Special Unit of the Monetary Police.

“In 2016, the FIU’s indications regarding suspected transactions totaled an overall value of more than €88 billion, and more than €150 billion if we include attempted operations,” warns Banca d’Italia Governor Ignazio Visco, who emphasizes that, “the most important results were obtained by [the FIU’s] prevention system.”

The FIU has also reported that suspected terrorism financing operations have doubled. In particular, the report highlights the cause for concern: there were 741 such warnings in 2016, more than double 2015’s total and six times more than in 2014. As Director Clemente states, “More than 90% of these were deemed ‘of investigatory interest’ to the Monetary Police’s Special Unit; there are several cases in which these investigations have confirmed these suspicions.”

Operations involving voluntary disclosure have also grown. The FIU warns that the reports of suspected money laundering operations over the course of 2016 have grown by 22.3%, in comparison to 2015. This is due, in part, to the roughly 21,000 reports that were either directly or indirectly linked to voluntary disclosure cases. “The growing trend,” the Director states, “has continued throughout the first quarter of 2017, in spite of the drastic reduction in reports linked to voluntary disclosure.”

Minister of the Economy Pier Carlo Padoan discussed the FIU’s “great results.” According to the Minister, both the anti-money laundering operations and the FIU’s efforts to fight terrorism financing have produced “very important results in Italy’s efforts to fight crime,” thanks also to the “awareness” of the private citizens and public authorities who “are cooperating more intensely and effectively.”

The Minister repeatedly emphasized “the strong growth in the private sector’s awareness—the driving force behind the growth [in reports]” and the “first signs of serious collaboration from the professionals, who are amassing the necessary knowledge to identify abnormal operations,” a result that is also thanks to the FIU’s tactics.