Press Release No: 01/2008
Date: 24 January 2008
A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed today between the Fiji Police Force and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU).
The MOA will enable the two agencies to exchange intelligence and financial information and to work together to detect, investigate and prosecute money laundering and proceeds of crime cases. The Commissioner of Police Commodore Esala Teleni said that there is a greater need in Fiji to maximize exchanges of information and effective cooperation among law enforcement authorities.
Commissioner Teleni said that the Fiji Police Force has had a close working relationship with the Financial Intelligence Unit since 2003 by placing a Police Officer on fulltime secondment with the FIU office at the Reserve Bank of Fiji. He said that this arrangement will now enable the Fiji Police Force to quickly access financial transaction information and will also allow its investigators to trace movements of funds of suspects involved in money laundering and other financial crimes. Commissioner Teleni added that police investigators have been working on more than 60 cases that were referred by the FIU. As a result of FIU’s intelligence and case disseminations, a number of money laundering, proceeds of crime and other serious offence cases were successfully investigated by the Police and are now with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Courts.
The Director of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Mr. Razim Buksh said that this arrangement will further strengthen the cooperation and networking between relevant domestic agencies in Fiji in the fight against serious criminal activities including money laundering offences.
All financial institutions in Fiji are now required under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act to report certain transactions to the FIU and these include reporting of suspicious transactions, all international electronic funds transfer transactions and cash transactions of F$10,000 or more. In addition to this, all inbound and outbound travelers are now required to declare and report if they are carrying F$10,000 or more in currency or negotiable bearer instruments.
Mr Buksh said that this information is extremely beneficial when investigating complex crimes such as money laundering. Therefore, networking and timely exchanges of information and financial intelligence with FIU’s partner agencies such as the Fiji Police Force becomes crucial.
Mr Buksh added that although a lot more needs to be done in Fiji to combat such crimes, the FIU was happy with the progress so far particularly with the implementation of measures under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act and the level of networking with relevant law enforcement authorities.
A Police Officer will continue to be seconded to the FIU under the MOA.
Mr. Buksh said similar MOAs were signed last year with the Director of Immigration and the Fiji Islands Revenue and Customs Authority. Discussions are continuing with the Ministry of Justice, Fiji Islands Trade and Investment Bureau and other Government departments and agencies to finalize similar arrangements.
The FIU has powers under the Financial Transactions Reporting Act to enter into arrangements with Government institutions and agencies for the exchange of information subject to strict confidentiality and protection of information requirements.