Trade-based financial crime a focus for US state department’s narcotics control

The US state department is focusing on trade-based financial crime in its efforts to curb the illegal drugs trade according to a recent report.

The department’s ‘International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2016’ provides detailed information on current and anticipated activities to limit the trade in illegal narcotics. Volume one covers drug and chemical control activities while volume two is devoted entirely to money laundering and financial crimes.

Global cooperation

Recognising the global nature of financial crime, the department’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) unit during 2016 provided financial investigation training to over 300 foreign law enforcement officers; regulatory, intelligence, and administrative personnel, and judicial authorities from more than eight nations.

Employing broad experience and expertise in conducting international financial investigations, ICE designed the training to provide trainees with the critical skills necessary to successfully identify and investigate financial crimes.

Trade focus

Specific measures aimed at illegal trade activities include Cross-Border Financial Investigations Advisors (CBFIAs).

The advisors are ICE Special Agents, deployed for extended periods of time to foreign posts to support host nation agencies such as customs and border authorities, investigators, prosecutors and financial investigations units.

Trade data exchange

Trade Transparency Units (TTUs) meanwhile are housed within the ICE National Targeting Centre, and continue to provide critical exchange of trade data with numerous countries.

These units have now established information sharing agreements with 14 countries to facilitate the identification of transnational criminal organisations utilising trade-based money laundering (TBML) schemes to repatriate proceeds generated from multiple illegal activities, including drug and human smuggling, customs fraud, and intellectual property rights violations, among others.

International cooperation

The report also describes how international partners with subject matter expertise, training, and investigative tools are cooperating to combat TBML and third-party money launderers and explains how this approach has been internationally recognised as a best practice to address TBML.

ICE continues to expand the network of operational TTUs, which now includes Argentina, Australia, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France (cost and market impact review sharing), Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines and Uruguay.

Country focus

Some countries are singled out for TBML concerns. In Argentina, “TBML remains a significant concern. Economic reforms aimed at increasing trade and encouraging growth may be exploited by transnational criminal organisations through a wide range of TBML schemes,” the report says.

Volume 2 of the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2016, which deals specifically with money laundering and financial crimes, can be found here.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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