Mapping Underworld Finances

December 30, 2016 OPINION/NEWS


Ricardo Swire

Cash moves across the world in a matter of seconds, with just one touch of a computer’s keyboard. Technology allows “dirty money” to disappear and with it any chance of confiscation.

Divergent corporate techniques involve placement, layering and integration that launder and circulate underworld cash. Placement introduces tainted currency to a country’s formal banking system. Layering is a sophisticated system of transactions, conceptualized to hide origin and ownership. Integration re-introduces the funds via legitimate enterprises.

Terrorist networks and support structures need cash to function. Whether a minimal or substantial currency transfer all processes leave trails that are traced, tracked and exploited for proactive and reactive purposes. The autonomous, international Financial Intelligence Unit’s (FIU) latest report informed that in 2016 182 Trinidadians financed terrorist activities, a conclusion derived from evidence contained in the 331.3 percent increase of Suspicious Financial Transactions (SFT).

The FIU document tabulated a global SFT surge, from sixteen in 2015 to sixty-nine in 2016. The Financial Intelligence Unit of Trinidad & Tobago’s (FIUTT) 2012 year-end report documented US$94,670,900 worth of “dirty money” in the Twin Island Republic’s financial system. Between October 2011 and September 2012 supervised entities and banking institutions in Port of Spain flagged two hundred and fifty-eight “Suspicious Transfer Reports (STR).” April and June recorded 2012’s highest amounts valued US$2,393,548.

Caribbean internal security professionals privately perform duties similar to America’s Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), Counter-Terrorism Division’s Terrorist Financing Operations Section (TFOS). Computer programs are re-configured to flag suspicious financial transactions. The software modifications help identify and follow previously invisible, unknown terrorist cells. During the FIU’s review period seven hundred and thirty-nine Suspicious Financial Transactions (SFTs) were detected in Trinidad & Tobago. Twenty-one point three percent more than 2015. Six hundred and seventy connected to money laundering. Sixty-nine percent linked to financing terrorism.

Two hundred and nine international FIU reports initiated one hundred and fifty cases redirected to American law enforcement. Fifty-nine disclosures, similar to the T&T findings, dispatched to foreign internal security professionals, other FIUs and law enforcement representatives. Trinidad’s US$119 million, worth of suspicious 2016 transactions surpassed 2015, by one hundred and twenty-seven percent. The special high profile terrorists’ financial probes are undertaken by multiple countries and agencies in the United Kingdom (UK), Switzerland, Canada and Europol.

Foreign liaison personnel, assigned to the FBI’s TFOS, have direct access to a wide range of information from a cross-section of entities. Banking, Credit/Debit Card Sectors, Money Services Businesses, Securities/Brokerages Sectors, Insurance, Travel, Internet Service Providers (ISPs), the Telecommunications Industry, universal Law Enforcement databases, America’s State and Federal Regulatory Agencies, Public and Open Source Data Providers, the global Intelligence Community and International Law Enforcement all interconnected.








Ricardo Swire - Tuck Magazine

Ricardo Swire

Ricardo Swire is the Principal Consultant at R-L-H Security Consultants & Business Support Services and writes on a number of important issues.


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