Five hundred and thirty Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR) were made to the BVI Financial Investigation Agency (FIA) back in 2016.
The FIA’s recently-released 2016 annual report said the figure represents a 77 percent increase when compared to the number of suspicious activity reports received in the previous year.
The annual report said most of the SARs were linked to alleged money laundering activities in the British Virgin Islands.
Of the 530 suspicious activity reports, 238 were about money laundering, 82 were reports of fraud, and 53 were tax evasion reports. Another 29 were corruption reports, 15 were reports of bribery, and 60 were reports of unknown nature.
“This suggests that money laundering is the main criminal activity allegedly perpetrated by criminals associated with BVI business companies,” the 2016 annual report said.
A breakdown of the second most prevalent types of offences reported in 2016 shows incidents relating to drug trafficking, embezzlement, extortion, and a number of other financial crimes.
The FIA conducted subsequent investigations and shared information about suspicious activity reports with several foreign and domestic partners including the Financial Services Commission, local and international law enforcement agencies, and foreign financial investigation units.
The information was shared based on multiple Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) the FIA has signed with local and international agencies to tackle financial crime.
670 requests for information
In 2016, the FIA received 670 requests for information from some 72 different signatory countries, the annual report said. Most of these requests came from the Russian Federation which made 44 requests, the United Kingdom with 39 requests, and the United States with 32.
Locally, the FIA received requests for information from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Her Majesty’s Customs, the Governor’s Office, the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Financial Services Commission, and others.
The FIA is yet to release an annual report for 2017. But, data shows the number of suspicious activity reports to the FIA has been steadily increasing for the last few years.
There were 217 reports in 2014 and 308 in 2015.
The FIA’s 2016 annual report has been released amid the UK’s amendment to their Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill, which is forcing the BVI to implement what are known as public registers of beneficial ownership by December 31, 2020.
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