A Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is an essential element of any effective AML/CFT regime. The Belize FIU was established in July 2002 under section 3 of the FIU Act, 2002 (FIU Act) to meet the need for a central agency to receive and analyze disclosures filed by reporting entities and disseminate financial intelligence for the effective investigation and prosecution of money laundering and its related predicate offences. These are considered core functions for any FIU. As a hybrid unit, the Belize FIU is also empowered to investigate and prosecute financial crimes and supervise Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) for compliance with their legal obligations regarding anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT).
Critical to the FIU’s functions is the authority to receive disclosures from various sources. These include reports of unusual or suspicious transactions from reporting entities, cash transaction reports, currency import and export declarations, wire transfers reports and other threshold-based declarations or disclosures from domestic and foreign governmental authorities. A core function of the FIU is to analyze this information to identify specific targets and follow the trail of particular activities to determine the links between those possible targets and the proceeds of crime, predicate offences, money laundering and terrorist financing. As a central gathering point for a broad range of domestic and foreign information, the FIU is poised to uncover patterns and trends emerging from large and complex financial transactions that point to possible financial crimes, money laundering and terrorist financing. This information is critical for investigations conducted by the FIU as well as by domestic and foreign law enforcement and supervisory or regulatory agencies.
In carrying out its functions, the FIU cooperates with other national agencies and departments, including the Police, Customs and Excise, Immigration, Income Tax, Central Bank, and the Attorney General’s Ministry. The FIU also cooperates with regional and international organizations in the global fight to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Facilitating these efforts is Belize’s membership in the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units and participation in the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force.
Since its inception, the FIU has made enormous strides. Notably, the FIU has sponsored the introduction of key legislative amendments and enactments to strengthen the overall AML/CFT regime in Belize. The FIU remains vigilant in its pursuit to implement Belize’s AML/CFT regime as necessary to thwart innovative practices by those seeking to compromise Belize’s financial system.