The Bank of Albania revoked 12 foreign exchange office licenses over the last year, predominantly for non-compliance with anti-money laundering measures, according to the institution’s Annual Supervision Report.
Previous MONEYVAL reports have identified such offices as critical sources of money laundering and other financial crimes. In response, the Bank of Albania and the Directorate for the Prevention of Money Laundering inspected some 90 exchanges during 2021.
Of these, 12 had their licenses suspended, and 26 were fined, meaning over a third were found non-compliant in some form.
The investigations found that exchange offices did not identify or verify customer identity when required by law and they failed to take preventive measures when collecting data. Several were unaware of their legal obligations and did not follow sanction lists, among other breaches.
The Bank of Albania also carried out inspections in five banks and 13 financial institutions. Inspectors found that institutions did not comply with their internal regulatory frameworks and lacked enhanced vigilance.
Various institutions had failed to ascertain source of income or collect the necessary paperwork from their clients, including signatures, stamps, and supporting documents for commercial transfer. Clients in these institutions were also allowed to use personal accounts for business purposes.
Albania is currently on the Financial Action Task Force’s grey list for money laundering, and consecutive US State Department reports have found little in the way of progress in combating the issue.