Busting cash: The Malta Customs success story

Malta’s recent stepped-up efforts in combatting money laundering and organised crime have been widely recognised by European and international institutions. Crucial in this fight is Malta’s Customs Department, responsible for seizing up to €2.4 million in undeclared cash over the past 4 years.

 isInvestment in the Customs Department has increased substantially, with particular focus on money laundering. Human resources will increase by 40%, from 300 employees in 2016, to 400 by the end of last year, with the number expected to reach 550 by the end of next year. This is complemented by a €20 million investment in new equipment and specialised systems.

TheJournal.mt is informed that over the past few days, the Customs Department has initiated a process intended to continue beefing up its Anti-Money Laundering Team with additional officials, as well as an intense training programme. This new team is working in close cooperation with the newly established Customs Canine Unit, the Customs Enforcement Unit and the Customs Intelligence Services. The section has also improved cooperation with its counterparts, such as, the Police anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing units and the FIAU. This cooperation has been further facilitated through the introduction of a new IT system that shares data in real time with the FIAU and the Police, providing key figures and trends pertaining to high risk individuals, countries and other monitored jurisdictions. 

Moreover, a number of Memoranda of Understanding have been signed with the Police Force, the FIAU, Malta’s Security Service, the Asset Recovery Bureau, the Sanctions Monitoring Board, the Central Bank of Malta, the Commerce Department, Transport Malta and Valletta Cruise Port, enabling the sharing of information in key investigations.

When it comes to combatting money laundering, the Customs Department is crucial in gathering information, monitoring and investigating cross-border movement of cash; detecting offences related to contraband and other related illegal activity; detecting over-invoicing typologies in trade-based money laundering, and monitoring and investigating, together with the Sanctions Monitoring Board, cases involving strategic trade and sanctions monitoring.

Other notable successes registered in the past 4 years:

  • Seized 2 containers full of Libyan Dinars, worth around 1 billion;
  • Seized drugs amounting to a record-breaking 179 million in street value;
  • Seized a number of boats and outboard motors, believed to be intended for human trafficking;
  • detained 176 million ‘Tramadol Pills’, hydrochloride tablets traditionally used by Jihadists and by militias in war zones, with an estimated value of 2 billion;
  • Seized over 900 dummy rifles which are used for militia training exercises;
  • Intercepted millions of counterfeit goods, estimated at over 100 million;
  • Seized over 5 million worth of contraband cigarettes.
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