Law enforcement investigations

These are normally triggered by STRs, tip offs, or other cases. The requests arrive in the form of a subpoena or search warrant. Subpoenas are issued by grand juries and empower law enforcement to obtain evidence (i.e. documents & testimony).

A search warrant allows law enforcement to enter a specific location and seize specific categories of items of documents. It doesn’t force testimony. In the US and other jurisdictions, banking regulators have the power to inspect all bank books and records as they see fit.

The 10 steps law enforcement takes are as follows:

  • Follow the money: either where the money originated or ended up to understand the flow

  • Identify the unlawful activity: i.e. what is the predicate offense (could be widely defined as: “any proceeds from criminal activity”)

  • Document activity and transactions: both the predicate offense and the flow of money

  • Review databases: financial intelligence unit (FIU) database and commercial databases can provide very useful and extensive financial information, plus other governmental databases such as social security and tax records

  • Review public information: court records, company filings, credit reports can contain useful background

  • Review licensing and registration files: e.g. vehicle registration documents

  • Analyse financial transactions: identify any unusual flows or amounts

  • Review STRs for any linked activity

  • Conduct computer-based searches

  • Obtain international co-operation: for cross-border cases

Next Topic: Decision to prosecute the institution

Previous Topic: Conducting and responding to an investigation

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