Money laundering, construction sector poses the biggest risk, no information about the banking sector

Money laundering, construction sector poses the biggest risk, no information about the banking sector
Money laundering is present in Albania. Construction is one of the sectors that pose the biggest risks for illicit activities. This was confirmed yesterday by the head of the Albanian Financial Intelligence Unit, Arlind Gjokutaj in a hearing before MPs at the parliamentary committee for security. Gjokutaj has also offered concrete figures about proceeds of crime that were seized last year.

“In 2018, authorities have seized 38,2 million euros worth of real estates, cash and money in the bank suspected of being proceeds of crime. Around 21.5 million euros are directly linked to money laundering”, he said.

Meanwhile, he openly admitted that construction poses the highest risk in terms of generating this kind of money.

“Construction sector is always seen as a high risk sector for money laundering. This is the reason why construction companies account for the highest number of entities against which measures have been taken”, he said. But, FIU’s chairman also mentioned gambling as another high risk sector for money laundering. According to him, this is the reason why they continue to be monitored, despite the fact that this activity has been outlawed now. “We’ve received reports suggesting illegal gambling activities and action has been taken”, he added. Meanwhile, the senior official also said that there’s a growing risk that banks may also be used to launder the proceeds of crime. However, according to him, there’s no information on this. “Each financial institution, banks, money, bureaux de change may act as institutions which can be used for money laundering by third parties. However, I don’t have any information about banks”, he declared.

Number of money laundering cases last year was 10% higher

Last year, the number of money laundering suspected cases was 10% higher than a year ago. Meanwhile, customs and tax offices have also reported a higher number of cases than before. “In 2018, customs have reported 49 suspicious cases as opposed 46 cases during the previous year”, said the head of the Albanian Financial Intelligence Unit.

Meanwhile, he added that customs have reported a total of suspicious cases, 7 of which have been referred to the prosecution for further proceedings. On the other hand, he also underlined the low number of sentences given by courts for money laundering as a result of a legal flaw which will be addressed once a series of bills are adopted by parliament.