Financial Intelligence Quarterly Reports for March 2020

During the March 2020 quarter, several meetings were held with stakeholders in relation to Tonga’s draft Mutual Evaluation report as well as its function to promote compliance with AML/CFT requirements. The FIU noted a decrease in the number of reports filed in this quarter compared to the previous quarter.

1. Number of Reports Received

Type of Reports Filed Jan 20 Feb 20 Mar 20 Total
Mar 20
QTR
Dec 19
QTR
Mar 19
QTR

Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs) 3 3 - 6 8 6
Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs)1 903 829 1,013 2,745 3,742 3,168
Border Currency Reports (BCRs)2 5 6 8 19 18 25

1 - CTRs reporting is for transaction equal to and above T$10,000. Transactions include deposits and withdrawals in all types i.e. deposit, withdrawal, exchange of currency or other payment or transfer with the exemptions of government agencies and financial institutions transactions. Customers with established relationship with the reporting entity conducting transactions of that amount are also exempted if their background or business activities support the amount of the transaction.
2 - BCR reporting requires declaration at the border by any person entering or leaving the Kingdom with cash amounting to more than T$10,000 or its equivalent in foreign currencies.

Lesser reports were submitted by the reporting financial institutions over this quarter compared to the previous quarter except BCRs. The number of CTRs shows a significant decrease compared to the same time last year, while number of STR remains the same with no STR filed in March 2020. The FIU continues to retain information obtained in these reports to assist in its data analysis function.

2. Types of STRs

STR by type Jan 20 Feb 20 Mar 20 Total
Mar 20
QTR
Dec 19
QTR
Mar 19
QTR

Unusual significant transactions - 3 - 3 - -
Large and rapid movement of funds 2 - - 2 5 2
Using personal accounts for business purpose - - - - - 2
Possible avoidance of Exchange Control requirements - - - - - 2
Other 1 - - 1 3 -
TOTAL 3 3 - 6 8 6

The numbers of STRs dropped by 25% from the previous quarter. Of the 6 reports, 3 reports were related to unusual signification transaction, 2 reports related to large & rapid movements of funds and the remaining was in relation to unexplained wealth.

3. Number of STRs disseminated

Following the analysis of the 6 STRs, all reports were disseminated to law enforcement agencies for investigations of possible tax and criminal offences.

Law Enforcement Agencies
Jan 20 Feb 20 Mar 20 Total
Mar 20
QTR
Dec 19
QTR
Mar 19
QTR

Ministry of Police - 3 - 3 3 1
Ministry of Revenue & Customs
3 - - 3 2 3
Foreign Affairs (Immigration)
- - - - - -
Other (reporting entity & other NRBT departments - - - - 3 2
TOTAL 3 3 - 6 8 6

4. CTR Data Analysis

  Jan 20
(TOP$M)
Feb 20
(TOP$M)
Mar 20
(TOP$M)
Totals
Mar 20
QTR
(TOP$M)
Dec 19
QTR
(TOP$M)
Mar 19
QTR
(TOP$M)

Inwards 16.00 13.84 19.74 49.58 62.76 57.74
Outwards
7.32 6.44 9.60 23.36 33.66 37.40
Transaction Purpose
Business
15.13 12.04 17.79 44.96 61.24 61.85
Personal 8.19 8.24 11.55 27.98 35.18 33.29
Transaction Type
TT
1.18 1.67 3.07 5.92 8.00 9.00
Cash 11.56 8.48 10.81 30.85 50.25 33.15
Cheque 7.80 7.04 9.68 24.52 25.96 26.09
Cash/Cheque 1.32 0.75 2.61 4.68 6.98 5.96
Other 1.47 2.35 3.17 6.99 5.26 20.94

The FIU received 2,745 reports in this quarter diminishing from the previous quarter of 3,742 reports. Inward transaction decreased by 21% and outbound transaction also decreased by 30% comparing with the previous quarter. The major reason which is seen in decreasing of business related transactions which were mostly noted in the cash transaction followed by the use of TT.

5. BCR Data Analysis

  Jan 20
(TOP$M)
Feb 20
(TOP$M)
Mar 20
(TOP$M)
Totals
Mar 20
QTR
(TOP$M)
Dec 19
QTR
(TOP$M)
Mar 19
QTR
(TOP$M)

Inbound 0.24 0.02 0.03 0.29 0.04 0.27
Outbound
2.57 6.86 3.21 12.64 16.19 13.23
Purpose of funds
Business
2.81 6.88 3.24 12.93 16.22 13.33
Personal - - - - 0.01 0.17

The FIU received 19 BCRs this quarter from the Ministry of Revenue & Customs, a slight increase from 18 reports filed in the previous quarter. Similar to previous quarters, majority of the BCRs were for outbound funds which were mostly pre-approved shipment of currencies for financial institutions and inbound funds were all for individuals.

6. Meeting of the Working Group on Serious Financial Crime & Law Enforcement Taskforce

The working group met twice this quarter to discuss and update Tonga’s ME draft report. Comments on Tonga’s 1st ME draft report were submitted to the assessors in the beginning of the year. The assessors has provided Tonga with its 2nd ME draft report for review and further comments. The Working Group is still reviewing the 2nd draft while the process has been put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Law Enforcement Taskforce also met a few times this quarter to discuss a particular case that is under discussion with two of the reporting entities.

7. Tonga’s Mutual Evaluation (ME) update

Tonga has provided its response to its 1st ME draft report in January 2020 and was expected to have its face-to-face meeting with the assessors in late March 2020 to further discuss the draft report. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tonga’s face-to-face meeting has been deferred which effectively put its 2nd ME draft report in suspension until the evaluation process can resume. Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering also announced in March 2020 the cancellation of its Annual Meeting that was to be held in Bangladesh in July 2020. Tonga’s ME Report was planned to be tabled at this meeting for the Plenary’s discussion.

 

8. Events

10 January 2020 Compliance meeting with bank
14 January 2020 Intel Meeting with Police
15 January 2020 & 18 March 2020 Meeting of the Working Group on Serious Financial Crime, Tonga
15 January 2020 Compliance meeting with bank
15, 22 & 23 January 2020 Meeting of the Law Enforcement Taskforce, Tonga
29 January 2020 Compliance meeting with bank
14 February 2020 Meeting with IMF Article IV Mission on AML/CFT related issues.
17 February 2020 Working Group on Serious Financial Crimes meeting with IMF Article IV Mission on Tonga's Mutual Evaluation findings
5 March 2020 South Pacific YC Utility Steering Group Call
11 March 2020 Intel Meeting with Police & MRC
12 - 13 March 2020 Review of NRBT's Corporate Plan 2019/2020
19 March 2020 South Pacific KYC Utility Working Group Call

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