Preface by the Director and the Federal Public Prosecutor
The publication of CTIF-CFI’s 26th annual report is an opportunity to firstly thank all of CTIF-CFI’s members of staff for the work done in 2019 and to secondly present the latest developments with regard to the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing.
The major changes in the national and international financial landscape continued with the emergence of new financial players, leading to new high-risk sectors, in particular platforms for exchanging virtual currencies and custodian wallet providers established in Belgium.
Although the provisions of the fifth Directive should ensure a legal framework for platforms for exchanging virtual currencies, it is regrettable that the fifth Directive only relates to the exchange of virtual currencies and legal tender and that the exchange between various types of virtual assets has been forgotten, contrary to what is required by the FATF recommendations.
Part V is dedicated to the main changes to the AML/CFT framework by the transposition of the fifth Directive and hopefully provides some useful information to the reader.
In 2019 there was a significant decrease in the number of disclosures (from 33.445 disclosures in 2018 to 25.991 disclosures in 2019). This substantial change can be explained by the drop in the number of disclosures by payment institutions, as a result of a change with one of these institutions in the way disclosures are sent to CTIF-CFI. From now on this way of disclosing is based on a subjective analysis of suspicious transactions, which is more consistent with the provisions of the law of 18 September 2017.
The decrease in the number of disclosures did not lead to a decrease in the number of files disseminated to the judicial authorities, however. CTIF-CFI disseminated 1.065 new files and a large number of additional investigation reports to the judicial authorities with information from 2.945 disclosures, for a total amount of EUR 1.538,83 million.
As advocate-general Mr Damien Vandermeersch already mentioned, the investigation report disseminated by CTIF-CFI to the judicial authorities is “not an end point as such but should be the starting point of the judicial investigation. The information collected by CTIF-CFI is not evidence in the strict sense of the word. The data should be considered to be intelligence that should be checked and confirmed by the judicial investigation.”
The last ten years 633 judgments and rulings were issued by courts and tribunals in files disseminated by CTIF-CFI. Fines and confiscations of more than EUR 300 million were imposed.
Yet the effect of preventive measures should not only be measured on the basis of judicial decisions, judgments or confiscated amounts though. CTIF-CFI sent 975 information notes, operational or strategic notes to the Federal Public Service Economy, the unit “Anti-fraud Coordination (CAF) of the Federal Public Service finance, Customs, the Social Intelligence and Investigation Service [SIRS-SIOD], the Central Office for Seizure and Confiscation [OCSC-COIV], the intelligence services and the Coordinating Unit for Threat Analysis [OCAM-OCAD].
CTIF-CFI keeps playing a major role in the international cooperation between financial intelligence units, especially in the European Union, with new mechanisms for exchanging and matching information, discussed in detail in this report.
CTIF-CFI does not operate in isolation. Its prime aim is judicial, creating a privileged partnership with the judicial authorities. In 2019, CTIF-CFI also extended the partnerships and the operational and strategic synergies, for instance by coordinating the activities of the Board of Partners [Assemblée des Partenaires] of the Board for coordinating the fight against laundering money of illicit origin [Collège de Coordination de la lutte contre le blanchiment de capitaux d’origine illicite].
CTIF-CFI’s autonomy and independence is a necessary reality for its operations. Given its judicial aim it should fit in with and take into account the choices and the criminal policy of the judicial authorities, without prejudice to its autonomy.
This 2019 annual report relates to the period prior to covid-19. The consequences of the covid-19 crisis on ML/TF are not discussed in this report. In April CTIF-CFI published two statements that were made available.
I hope you enjoy reading the report.
Philippe de KOSTER