After FATF (Financial Action Task Force) published the 40 recommendations, according to which the financial institutions should report the suspicious activities and transactions, in August 2001, the Directory for Coordinating the Fight against Money Laundering (DCFML), was established in Albania, according to the model of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the administrative type.
Following the improvements made to the law on preventing money laundering, since 1 August 2005 this structure is organized in a higher level as a General Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering (GDPML), having a separate budget, which shall affect in a more efficient and confidential use of the data sent to this unit. This unit is known in the international terms and standards as the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
The financial Intelligence Unit, as a central, national agency, is responsible for receiving, (and as permitted, requesting), analyzing and disseminating to the competent authorities, disclosures of financial information:
- Concerning suspected proceeds of crime and potential financing of terrorism;
- Required by national legislation or regulation, in order to combat money laundering and terrorism financing.
FIU was established as a connecting institution for the financial institutions, business community and the executive authorities, as well as to direct and coordinate the fight against money laundering, based on the obligation of the interested subjects and financial institutions, in order to identify the client, register and save the data, to report the suspicious transactions (STR) and those going beyond 20 million lek (CTR). These institutions have established their structures with the responsible people in this direction and have also established the data center.
In order to fulfill its objectives, the FIU structures the collection of the information that is used to identify the money laundering/terrorism financing and the criminal activity. Apart from the subjects identified in the law, FIU collects data also from other sources such as the law enforcement authorities (police, investigation and prosecution authorities); other regulatory authorities (customs, taxes and duties, banks authorities) and any other unit that can provide necessary financial information. FIU also coordinates the work for registering, analyzing and disseminating data to the competent authorities.
This role is played by the General Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering, the Albanian FIU, a member of EGMONT Group, which is an international forum that realizes the collaboration in information exchange, training and experience sharing.
Searching and fighting the potential financings of the terrorist activities in the national and international level is an aim to the FIU, as well as fighting and preventing money laundering. In Albania this attempt has been supported by the law on the measures against terrorism financing approved in 2004.
After FIU’s reorganization, another competence was added to this unit regarding the inspection aspect, extending its responsibility in relation to the identification of the reporting entities and realizing the reporting of the suspicious transactions according to the law.
The FIU objectives in this direction are to concentrate on the reporting subjects who must start submitting the Reports on the Cash Transactions over 20 million Lek (CTR) and the Reports of the Suspicious Transactions (STR).
The Albanian FIU was established five years ago. During this period it has been extended and has been transformed from a small agency within the Ministry of Finances into a Directorate known internationally. What is more it has become an integral part of the fight against organized crime and corruption in Albania.
Such a unit collects financial information locally and abroad to help examining money laundering, terrorism financing and other criminal activity within its boundaries. This financial information is mainly collected from the obligatory transactions reports that are presented by the financial institutions.
The fiscal year 2005 signs many achievements as well as challenges for FIU. On one hand there were taken a series of measures regarding money laundering and terrorism financing transactions. Except this, the purpose of FIU activity was extensively widened after a series of collaboration memorandums with the international counterpart structures.
On the other hand the FIU mission is still in difficulty because of the lack of a computerized data system for searching and analyzing the transaction reports. Acting in big “cash” economy as well as the increase of the number and the types of the reporting entities introduce further compliancy problems. FIU needs a long term and avant-garde strategic plan.