The FIA receives the following reports from various reporting institutions based on their sectoral products and services: Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs), Large Currency Transaction Reports (LCTRs), and Electronic Funds Transfer Reports (EFTRs). The FIA also receives Cross-border Currency and Goods Declaration Reports from the Malawi Revenue Authority.

With regard to the STRs, the requirement to submit these reports to the FIA is contained in Section 23 of the Financial Crimes Act (FCA).

The FCA obliges every reporting institution to file STRs with the FIA whenever it suspects or has reasonable grounds to suspect or when it confirms that a transaction or an attempted transaction is related to the commission of an offence under this Act. The STR has to be submitted to the FIA as soon as possible but not later than three days after forming that suspicion.

When preparing a report to the FIA, a reporting institution has to come out clearly on various issues which include:

  • grounds on which the reporting institution holds the suspicion;
  • purpose of the transaction;
  • the origin of the funds involved;
  • ultimate destination of the funds involved; and
  • the identity and address of any ultimate beneficiaries

Upon receipt of the STR, the FIA may direct the reporting institution not to proceed with the carrying out of that transaction or proposed transaction or any other transaction immediately and where appropriate, freeze any funds or reverse any transaction in respect of the funds affected by that transaction or proposed transaction for a period not exceeding ninety working days in order to allow the FIA to make necessary inquiries concerning the transaction and if deemed appropriate, to inform and advise a law enforcement agency or other relevant competent authority.

The most important key to identifying a suspicious transaction is knowing enough about your customer and customer's business. Determination of what should be reported is incumbent upon one's own assessment of the transaction or activity based on knowledge and experience as well as specific circumstances of the transaction.