More than 47,000 transactions suspected of fraud and possible money laundering have been registered in Puerto Rico

Such news came last year 47,000 Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) for transactions made in Puerto Rico.Before the Financial Crimes Network (FinCEN, in English), the director of the federal agency explained, andrea gacki,

The expressions of the federal official were given this Thursday as part of his visit to the island, as one of the speakers at the twentieth Puerto Rican symposium against money laundering of the Association of Banks of Puerto Rico (ABPR).

Of the thousands of SAR reports reported in Puerto Rico, According to the director of the agency involved, about 700 have described possible fraud related to government aid or benefits. Federal Treasury Department.

In the United States, Check fraud was the largest category of suspected fraudulent activity, increasing by 66% Compared to last year, however, it was not mentioned as frequently in presentations related to Puerto Rico, according to the official.

The suspicious activity that followed was money laundering, involving transactions below established record-keeping limits and suspicious use of multiple locations.

“In ‘other’ free text areas, SARs often report high amounts of financial activity, concerns about the destination of funds, high dollar volumes, and potential tax evasion,” Gacki said.

Regarding scams reported on the island, the official indicated that the most frequent were those involving “good guys” and online purchases, especially of vehicles and services.

As part of its strategies to combat money laundering, FinCEN has implemented new rules that will require all limited liability entities, or LLCs, in the United States and territories to complete a Beneficial Ownership Report (BOI). In English). Such rules also apply to Puerto Rico.

Since its launch on January 1, FinCEN has received more than 642,000 notifications, the director said.

The federal official spoke regarding “the nation’s opioid crisis,” which is causing high costs for communities across the country. Puerto Rico is one of the main transshipment points.

Among recent cases on the island, Gaiki highlighted three individuals charged in November 2023 with possession of firearms and conspiracy to distribute these substances. Whereas, last September, 42 gang members were arrested from the municipality of Manatí, as well as “numerous other allegations and arrests of large-scale fentanyl and fentanyl-adjacent operations” in Puerto Rico, he indicated.

“FinCEN and the Treasury Department are important partners in the President’s (Joe Biden) national drug control strategy, and We are leveraging our full range of tools in the service of disrupting and dismantling the international criminal organizations that traffic these dangerous substances.Gaiki assured.

Although the FinCEN director classified Puerto Rico as a risky jurisdiction, he stressed that progress has been made.

“Puerto Rico presents significant risks for money laundering, but it also has significant potential and reasons for optimism”Gaiki informed.

Recently, Puerto Rico was hit by hurricanes, largely due to the lack of adequate controls over entities registered on the island under laws intended to make the island a financial center for international banking.

“However, despite the known risks, significant progress has been made in recent days with landmark prosecutions, other enforcement actions and the implementation of new regulations,” he said.

This week, The federal treasury terminated the international financial institutions and savings and loan cooperatives operating on the island. Your “Weaknesses and Risks” List For the anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-financing of terrorism (CFT) policy of the United States.

However, the FinCEN director assured that the agency will continue to monitor and promote greater compliance “especially in non-traditional areas.”

As an example of this, Gaiki reviewed the first and most recent FinCEN action against an international banking entity (EBI) in Puerto Rico, which led to a 15-year indictment against Bancredito International Bank & Trust Corporation for willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act. A million dollar fine was imposed. (BSA, in English) for a period of seven years.

EBI, owned by Julio M. Herrera Velutini, also failed to submit SAR reports on time, failed to establish due diligence programs for correspondent accounts established, maintained, administered, or managed in the United States for other financial institutions, and Failed to implement. A compliance program to prevent money laundering, according to the FinCEN report.

FinCEN’s first action outside Puerto Rico was against Kingdom Trust Co. The first action was for $1.5 million, followed by a $3.4 billion fine against Binance, an entity tied to the world of cryptocurrency. Meanwhile, its most recent corrective action was against an individual, Gyanendra Kumar Azre, who had his own wealth services business which he had not registered with FinCEN.

,I would like to conclude by reiterating that FinCEN looks forward to continuing collaboration with the authorities and private industry in Puerto Rico. “I shared today (Thursday) the many ways that FinCEN, together with you as our partners, is working to prevent harm to the financial system,” the FinCEN director said.

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