Muscat: Within the last two years, more than 500 suspicious transaction reports (STRs) were received by the National Centre of Financial Information (NCFI).
Previously known as the Financial Investigation Unit, the NCFI is responsible for combating money laundering and terrorism funding, in which 551 suspicious transaction reports were reported in 2014 and 2015. In 2015, there were 286 suspicious transaction reports received by the NCFI, most of which were reported from banks.
Banks reported 216 suspicious transaction reports, followed by exchange firms with 66, while financing companies and real estate agencies reported 2 each.
Asked why most reports came from the banks, a senior official at the NCFI said, “Most people do their transactions through banks, and sometimes there are those whose transactions are suspicious.
“In a lot of cases, the suspicious transactions are basically tax evasions. The person does all his commercial activities through his personal account, and not the company account, to avoid paying taxes to the state,” the official said.
Of the 286 suspicious transaction reports, 36 were referred to the public prosecution for violating the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism funding law.
Other reports were referred to the public prosecution for violating the Oman Penal Code, Banking Law, Labour Law, Commerce and Commercial Registration Law and the Civil Associations Law.
The NCFI only deals with STRs regarding money laundering and terrorism funding, as other violations are referred to specific units within the Royal Oman Police.
Although not all suspicious transaction reports are referred to the public prosecution, the official explained, “The reports are sent to the public prosecution after careful analysis and discovering a violation of the law, or if it is connected to a crime that occurred.
“Then there are some reports that are in violation of administrative laws, so we refer those reports to the responsible authority. The STRs that cannot be determined to have violated a crime will be closely monitored,” added the official.