Report by the Authority for Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

Millions of shekels that were laundered for the purpose of terrorism were seized in the last year

A new report by the Authority for Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing reveals economic crime data, the main trends and risks in the areas of money laundering and terrorist financing in Israel

(Photo: maradon 333, Shutterstock)

The Authority for the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Terror Financing has exposed the economic crime data for the year 2022. In that year, there was an increase in the identification of money laundering incidents linked to tax evasion and fraud, alongside an increasing trend in the use of cash, loans, and credit facilities, financial service providers (changes), and international activity for money laundering purposes.

The annual comprehensive report from the Authority and the summary of key data, which includes all the new data on money laundering trends and methods in Israel in the past year, emerging issues, patterns of criminal activity linked to money laundering, data on the volume of reports to the Authority, and many other data points, including:

- 23% of the incidents constituting the basis for money laundering this year involved fraud, deception, and forgery.

- The identification of a significant increase in financial crime related to tax evasion, including the use of fictitious invoices (21%), alongside companies and/or organized crime groups (13%).

A 100% increase in reports of unusual activity in changes

The prominent money laundering patterns in 2022 also constituted the fastest-growing patterns of money laundering in the past two years. These patterns included international activity (20%), cash transactions (17%), activity through financial service providers (14%), and lending and credit utilization (12%). The activities of financial service providers (known as "changes") are also experiencing a significant increase, as evidenced by approximately 91,000 reports of unusual activities submitted to the Authority, reflecting a 291% increase over the past five years.

Continuing the annual trend, there was a noticeable increase in the number of "reports of unusual activity" this year as well. In 2022, approximately 170,000 reports of unusual activity were received, marking a 52% increase compared to 2020. Even financial service providers (changes) reported more unusual activity to the Authority than banks. There was a 107% increase compared to 2020 and a 291% increase over the past five years in this regard.

As part of the national effort against economic crime, the Authority initiated and supported dozens of financial investigations in the past year, both in Israel and internationally, which resulted in the filing of charges and the seizure of significant amounts of illicit funds.

The cases presented in the report include an overview of the money laundering method and the financial intelligence research conducted by the Authority, which facilitated the apprehension of criminals. These cases cover a wide range of areas, including fraud, extortion, professional money laundering, terror financing, arms trafficking, and more.

Cooperation with Bahrain and France

On the international front, the Authority continues to play a central role in the activities of the FATF, leading projects and influencing the organization's decisions and global policy.

Simultaneously, the Authority expanded its joint activities with financial intelligence units worldwide, with an emphasis on strengthening relations with Bahrain's financial intelligence unit. This included signing a memorandum of understanding and making the first visit to the country for future coordination and cooperation in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. Additionally, collaboration was deepened with France's financial intelligence unit on matters related to financial crime.

Exposing criminals, locating assets and money trails

Minister of Justice, Member of Knesset (MK) Yariv Levin, stated that "the Ministry of Justice proudly carries the flag of the fight against serious and organized crime and is deeply committed to combating economic crime, which seeks to exploit the legitimate economic system for the use of illicit funds and terrorism, thereby undermining national security. The Authority for the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing believes in promoting activity in this field, assisting in safeguarding the security and lives of Israeli citizens, strengthening the resilience of the Israeli financial system, and receiving international recognition and achievements beyond measure from its peers.

"As seen in this report, the Authority plays a significant role in our efforts to expose wrongdoers, locate assets, and trace the money trails they use, especially in the national fight against criminal phenomena in the Arab society. I commend the staff of the Authority and its management for their blessed work and their important contribution to the security of Israeli citizens."

"Serious crime, organized crime and money laundering"

The CEO of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Itamar Donenfeld, added: "The Authority for the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Terror Financing, within the Ministry of Justice, leads the national fight against severe criminal phenomena, organized crime, and money laundering. As part of its role, the Authority provides significant assistance to enforcement and security agencies in the battle against criminal and terrorist organizations, enabling the Ministry of Justice to be at the forefront of the fight against economic crime in Israel."

The data reflected in the Authority's annual report indicate the continuous growth in the scope of its activities and the quality of the work carried out in the field. We will continue to work to mitigate the phenomena of economic crime for the benefit of the public in Israel and the Israeli economy."

"Combination of intelligence and enforcement"

The head of the Authority for the Prohibition of Money Laundering and Terror Financing, Attorney Orit Ostrovitz-Levy, stated: "The Authority operates tirelessly day and night for the purpose of combating serious economic crime while simultaneously strengthening the regime of money laundering and terror financing prevention, including the financial inclusion of as many sectors and businesses as possible, in order to promote the financial integrity of the Israeli economy. These goals can only be achieved through a combination of intelligence and enforcement efforts.

"This is how we operated with full force in 2022, deepening our cooperation with law enforcement and security agencies in the State of Israel, as well as with our partners worldwide, to mitigate the harmful effects of money laundering that threaten the security of Israeli citizens. We supported dozens of economic investigations, both in Israel and abroad, which led to indictments, arrests, and the seizure of substantial amounts of criminal funds, as seen in various cases detailed in the report."


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