The Special Investigation Commission (SIC) is a multi-function financial intelligence unit (FIU) with judicial status. It is the center piece of Lebanon’s AML / CFT regime, a platform for international cooperation and plays a vital role in safeguarding concerned sectors from illicit proceeds.
The SIC’s tasks include receiving and analyzing suspicious transaction reports (STRs), conducting financial investigations, lifting banking secrecy, freezing accounts and/or transactions and forwarding them to concerned judicial authorities. With respect to terrorism and the financing of terrorism, the SIC is also empowered to prevent the use of movable or immovable assets. In addition to sharing ML / TF intelligence with counterparts and coordinating with foreign/local competent authorities on requests of assistance (ROAs), the SIC also proposes AML / CFT regulations and issues new regulations and recommendations to concerned parties. AML / CFT supervision via compliance examinations at banks and other reporting entities to ensure proper implementation of prevailing regulations is also among its tasks.
The Secretary General tasks include the following:
The Audit & Investigation Unit is the financial investigation arm of the Special Investigation Commission. When discharging its duties in connection with filed STRs, the Unit performs the needed analysis and financial investigation on the subject and related transactions. This process can be complemented with information gathered from reporting entities, law enforcement and government agencies, in addition to intelligence obtained from FIUs. In certain instances and when necessary, the Unit performs such work on ROAs received from local and foreign authorities. Decisions taken by the SIC based on this work include exchanging information with FIUs, freezing accounts/transactions, keeping accounts traceable, placing an encumbrance on records and entries pertaining to movable or immovable assets, and forwarding cases to the General Prosecutor.
The Compliance Unit is the supervisory arm of the Special Investigation Commission tasked with ensuring compliance of banks and other reporting entities with prevailing AML/CFT regulations. The Unit’s responsibilities include evaluating via onsite and offsite examinations the effectiveness of AML/CFT compliance programs, CDD measures and controls adopted to monitor, detect and report suspicious transactions. Onsite examinations are risk based and are complemented with annual offsite assessments. A tailored risk based approach for supervision is in place for concerned sectors under Law no. 44, and they are constantly updated to ascertain both adequate coverage and more focused assessments. In discharging its duties, the Unit highlights corrective measures that banks and other reporting entities need to implement to enhance their compliance programs and internal controls. The Unit also recommends updating AML/CFT regulations or introducing new ones following developments in international standards or best practices, and when the need arises due to either evolving risks or examinations findings.
The Financial Investigation Administrative Unit is entrusted with managing the Special Investigation Commission’s database. The Unit logs all filed STRs in addition to ROAs received from local/foreign sources and spontaneous disclosures, as well as SIC decisions in this regard. Also, requests made by the SIC to counterparts, external parties along with any obtained intelligence are maintained. Reviews, classifications, updates and data cleansing are performed periodically to ensure both the quality and accuracy of data. The Unit reviews MOUs the SIC intends to sign with its counterparts and issues statistics that is used in SIC annual reports, when undertaking strategic analysis and when identifying money laundering and terrorism financing trends. The Egmont Secure Web (ESW) is also housed within this Unit and is subject to strict security usage protocols.
The Information Technology and Security Unit at the Special Investigation Commission is in charge of managing and updating all hardware, software, applications and network communications infrastructure needed for both the day-to-day operations of staff and for the secure exchange of messages between the SIC and reporting entities. Among the Unit's core responsibilities is also maintaining the SIC website, overseeing the disaster recovery plan and the security of equipment, data, documents and physical security of the premises.