Police beefing up its financial crime unit with civilian experts, new software

Police force reacts to damning Moneyval report that identified the corps as a bottleneck in the fight against financial crime

The police force was found to have prosecuted less than 3% of suspicious cases flagged by the FIAU
The police force was found to have prosecuted less than 3% of suspicious cases flagged by the FIAU

The police force is using the services of civilian financial crime analysts in its efforts to combat money laundering and fraud.

The recruitment of civilians is a recent development in the police force’s efforts to beef up its resources to fight financial crime.

The police said in a statement on Tuesday that its financial crime unit will be moving out of police headquarters into a dedicated building in Santa Venera at the start of next year.

The reaction came after an international assessment delivered a scathing review on the force’s ability to fight money laundering.

The assessment carried out by Moneyval found that police prosecutions amounted to less than 3% of all suspicious cases flagged by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit between 2014 and 2018.

READ ALSO: Malta faces police bottleneck in fight against money laundering

In the wake of the Moneyval findings last week, the FIAU and the Malta Financial Services Authority were prompt to give an overview of the work they are doing to strengthen their watchdog functions, but not the police.

In an uncharacteristically long statement, the police said in January last year it had boosted manpower at its Economic Crimes Department with seven inspectors. In July, a second superintendent was posted with the department.

The department now has 58 police constables and sergeants, up from 41 last year.

But the force is also investing in specialised intelligence software to create a centralised database of information that would facilitate financial investigations.

“This software will enable the police force to be in constant contact with other Maltese entities, which will help us cut down on illegal activity such as fraud and money laundering,” the police said.

The software will be in place 18 months down the line and 30 police officers are being trained on it.