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According to The Egmont Group, the definition of a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is as follows:
Countries should establish a financial intelligence unit (FIU) that serves as a national centre for the receipt and analysis of (a) suspicious transaction reports; and (b) other information relevant to money laundering, associated predicate offences and financing of terrorism, and for the dissemination of the results of that analysis. The FIU should be able to obtain additional information from reporting entities and should have access on a timely basis to the financial, administrative and law enforcement information that it requires to undertake its functions properly. A few major considerations shape the creation of the FIUs: anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws, existing law enforcement, and the need for an authority that will receive, assess and share financial information.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Interpretive Note to Recommendation 29 determines that countries should ensure that the FIU has regard to the Egmont Group statement of purpose and its Principles for Information Exchange Between Financial Intelligence Units for Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Cases (these documents set out important guidance concerning the role and functions of FIUs, and the mechanisms for exchanging information between FIUs). The FIU should apply for membership in the Egmont Group.
There are four models of FIUs: judicial, law enforcement, Administrative, and hybrid.
- The Judicial Model is established within the judicial branch of government wherein “disclosures” of suspicious financial activity is received by the investigative agencies of a country from its financial sector such that the judiciary powers can be brought into play e.g. seizing funds, freezing accounts, conducting interrogations, detaining people, conducting searches, etc.
- The Law Enforcement Model implements anti-money laundering measures alongside already existing law enforcement systems, supporting the efforts of multiple law enforcement or judicial authorities with concurrent or sometimes competing jurisdictional authority to investigate money laundering.
- The Administrative Model is a centralized, independent, administrative authority, which receives and processes information from the financial sector and transmits disclosures to judicial or law enforcement authorities for prosecution. It functions as a “buffer” between the financial and the law enforcement communities.
- The Hybrid Model serves as a disclosure intermediary and a link to both judicial and law enforcement authorities. It combines elements of at least two of the FIU models.