Malta has stepped up its fight against suspicious transactions. According to the latest statistics, Malta-licensed remote gaming operators made 1,445 suspicious transaction reports in 2019, claimed the island’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).
It represents a 106 per cent increase on the previous year, when 700 reports were made – although that year also marked a 221 per cent rise in 2017.
The reports came from 210 Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licenced operators.
Of the total 1,445 reports flagged to the FIAU from igaming companies in 2019, 32 per cent of these (457) were submitted by just three companies and 35 per cent by another five companies (498).
The remaining 33 per cent (486) were submitted by 72 entities, 29 of which filed just one report in 2019 with the FIAU.
The top reason for a report of suspicion was transactions (46 per cent): while suspicious behaviour (21 per cent) and identification and verification process and documentation (16 per cent), were the next most prevalent.
Adverse media accounted for three per cent of reports and involvement in high-risk jurisdictions made up two per cent.
Transactions tended to raise suspicion when there were inconsistencies between the transactions carried out and the customer profile or there was an unusually large volume of deposits or complex transactions.
Suspicious narratives or mismatches between the name of the beneficiary and the name of the bank account to be credited were also cited as causes for concern.
The Financial Unit disclosed that the majority of the reports (32 per cent), were relating to sums of money below €10,000 (£8,941/US$12,032). In 22 per cent of cases, the amounts ranged from between €100k and €1m. However, significant amounts over €1m were reported for 36 of the reports.
Gambling firms are among a number of industries at high risk of coming into contact with money laundering and terror-financing. Others include banking institutions, accountants and law firms.
As such they are all expected to disclose suspicion of such activity. The regulations around doing so have become tighter in recent years, hence a pattern of significantly increased reporting year-on-year.
The FIAU added; “Information received through these submissions accounted for 35% of the total spontaneous intelligence reports shared with foreign fraud investigators in 2019.
“From the 1,445 STRs received in 2019, 1,096 of these have been the subject of spontaneous intelligence reports sent to foreign FIUs in 2019, and the first half of 2020.”