The role of law enforcement

There is a comprehensive structure of law enforcement agencies that tackle different financial crime issues. In many cases, the national police service will have a fraud or financial investigation team, in some cases equipped to recover assets like houses and vehicles for example that have been purchased with the proceeds of crime. In many cases, money laundering will be investigated by the national police service. In addition, depending the country the following structures may be in place:

  • The Financial Intelligence Unit (“FIU”) – this agency received reports from “reporting entities” including banks and other entities required by law to report suspicious transactions and activity. This could include a local car dealer where a new client has paid in cash for a new Mercedes for example. The car dealer would have a requirement to file a suspicious transaction report (“STR”) also know as a suspicious activity report (“SAR”) to the FIU. The FIU will then examine the report, collate further national intelligence data and if it warrants further investigation, the consolidated report will be sent to law enforcement agencies for further formal investigation.
  • The Anti-Corruption Agency (“ACA”) – the anti-corruption agency (if it exists) deals with complaints of bribery and corruption, it often has a role to educate, prevent and investigate bribery and corruption.
  • The Financial Regulator – the financial regulator will be responsible for investigations into insider trading or market manipulation for listed companies.
  • The Tax and Revenue Authority – the tax collection arm of the government responsible for investigating various tax crimes including fraud, avoidance strategies and evasion.
  • Customs – the Customs service is sometimes integrated with a tax authority but not always. It can collect customs duties and taxes due on goods shipped. There is a lot of data in imports and exports that can be useful for financial investigations.
  • The National Police Service – Often equipped with a financial investigations unit to investigate fraud and money laundering, the police unit should have good access to powers to request financial data that can be useful for other agencies investigating linked crimes. i.e.: to investigate a wildlife crime, the wildlife crime agency may not have the powers in legislation to obtain bank account information so they must work alongside the national police service or second an officer into the wildlife authority to work in tandem on the case to conduct a financial investigation. Sometimes, the police will also maintain an internal asset recovery unit to confiscate assets that have been accumulated as part of a crime.
  • The National Prosecution Service – The prosecution service is usually a separate entity that is required to be involved in prosecuting the case in court once the investigation has been completed.


Transition Statement:  Now that you have learnt the basic structures of what constitutes financial crime and how the law enforcement functions work, let’s move onto looking at bribery and corruption in more detail.