Malta FIAU publishes key stats on suspicious transactions related to online gambling

Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) has published its ‘intelligence factsheet’ providing an overview ofsuspicious transaction reports’ (STRs) submitted by Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) licensees in 2019.

The FIAU is a Malta government central agency tasked with the collection, processing and analysis of data and intelligence with a view to combating money laundering and the funding of terrorism.

Under Malta’s financial conduct laws,  all registered businesses must document STRs when they suspect an account, customer or transaction to be linked with criminal activities or consent.  

During 2019, the FIAU recorded a total of 1,445 STRs from 210 MGA licensed operators, continuing its year-on-year trend of recording 100% increases of suspicious transactions registered by its ‘CASPAR monitoring system.

A breakdown of results saw 32% (457 cases) of total STRs submitted by three companies and a further 35% (498 cases) reported by a further five licensed operators, with the remaining 33% of STRs (roughly 486) submitted by 72 entities.  

Registering 46% of STRs, ‘disputed transactions’ were recognised as the dominant reason for reported cases, related to operators flagging account inconsistencies, suspicious activities and chargebacks.

Further transactional-based disputes related to customer accounts, with regards to large deposit funds being denied as customers’ would not verify their source of funds information.

The FIAU reported that in 17% of recorded instances, customers had become uncooperative in requests to provide their personal documentation to verify their identities.

On verification, 15% of instances recorded stated that customers had submitted false or fabricated documentation to operators, whilst 3% of STRs related to persons ‘known on open source criminal databases’.  

Meanwhile, operators reported 2% of cases related to customers requesting withdrawals/transfers to bank accounts located within ‘high-risk jurisdictions’.  

Cybercrime was recorded in 1% of submitted cases, in instances that operators reported that a customer’s account had been hacked or compromised by a fraudulent third party.

For most of the STRs submitted by remote gaming operators during  2019, the ‘predicate offence is not identified’, being marked as “unknown” or “other”.

A financial breakdown of results reported that 32% of STRs had been recorded for transactions below €10,000. However, the compliance unit noted that 22% of STRs had been recorded for transactions above €100,000 with a ‘significant 36 STRs reported for amounts over € 1 million.

For 2020, the FIAU has recorded 741 STR cases related to online gambling, with the compliance unit continuing to expand the monitoring capacity of its CASPAR system.

“In most of the cases, the FIAU considers it more appropriate to send a spontaneous intelligence report to foreign FIUs rather than to trigger an investigation in Malta on the basis of STRs received from the remote gaming entities,” the FIAU detailed in its factsheet statement. 

“Although the FIAU does not open its own in-depth analysis in these cases, the majority result in further dissemination to its foreign counterparts. As a result, information received through these submissions accounted for 35% of the total spontaneous intelligence reports shared with foreign FIUs in 2019.”

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