The TRACFIN (Traitement du Renseignement et Action contre les Circuits FINanciers clandestins or Intelligence Processing and Action Against Illegal Financial Circuits in English) is an agency of the French Ministry of Finance responsible for the fight against tax, customs and social fraud, equally responsible for the fight against financial crimes as well as breaches of probity. Many professions (banker, insurer, real estate agent, notary, accountant …) have an obligation to report to this agency in case of suspicion of money laundering.
The agency publishes a report on its action every year.
The report on 2016 has been recently published and it highlights a sharp rise in reports (64 815 pieces of information (+43% compared to the previous year, 2015)).
The banks that provide 80% of the reports have mainly made statements concerning:
- A hint of undeclared activity
- A donation that seems unreported to the tax authorities
- Cash withdrawals that seem fraudulent. (over 10,000 euros over a month)
The report equally highlights new scam practises:
Precious stones in free ports: beware!
The Tracfin agency sees a steady rise in the number of companies suggesting to individuals to invest in gemstones when it is impossible to verify their physical existence. These stones are supposedly stored in free ports, which allows to pay less taxes but which also allows these companies to act without real control.
Fake payment terminals
Companies are contacted by fraudulent installers in order to set up terminals. The sums collected by the terminals are then transferred to an account based abroad and not on the account of the company.
The danger of virtual currencies.
The fight against money laundering and financial fraud must take into account the new virtual currency operators such as Bitcoin and for this the Tracfin agency requires the adaptation of the regulations to involve foreign exchange platforms, the major players in the Web and the operators of mobile telephony.