Bank of Italy signals potentially illegal transfers from Italian accounts to Russia in 2023

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MILAN (Reuters) - The Bank of Italy reported potentially illegal bank transfers last year from Italian accounts to Russia, channelled through other countries in order to avoid Western sanctions, the central bank said in a document published on Wednesday.

Western powers imposed sweeping sanctions on Moscow after Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, which have since been gradually tightened.

European Union countries adopted a 14th package of sanctions against Moscow earlier this week.

"The results (of the yearly investigation) led to the identification of some unusual flows," the 2023 report by the central bank's Financial Intelligence Unit said.

It did not give further details of the suspected transfers nor on the countries involved to send them to Russia.

The annual report collects information on potential cases of money laundering and financing of terrorism and then decides whether the information should be passed on to the investigative authorities.

The report added the overall number of suspicious transaction reports (STRs) in 2023 slightly fell compared to the previous year, although numbers picked up after the Hamas-led attack on Israel last October.

"About a third of last year's reports were sent after mid-October, following the Hamas-led attack," the central bank added.

(Reporting by Sara Rossi, editing by Giulia Segreti, Alexandra Hudson)