Malaysia’s new TBML unit successfully exposing illicit and terrorism financing

Malaysia’s new customs unit focused on trade-based money laundering (TBML) has been successful in its first year of operation according to a top official.

Royal Malaysian Customs Department’s director-general Datuk Subromaniam says the department’s National Targeting Centre has exposed illicit and terrorism financing.

Terror financing

Subromaniam is most concerned about terror financing. “Terrorists need sources of funds to basically fund their activities, and one of the important source of funds is via trade-based money laundering,” he said at the 3rd Counter-Terrorism Financing Summit in Kuala Lumpur.

In the task of checking customs declarations against the true market value of goods he reckons “the only competent authority that knows if a consignment has been overvalued is the customs department.”

Red flags identified

Subromaniam also said the new unit was developing capabilities to identify TBML ‘red flags’ in the trading system.

He said identifying where there are no links between a buyer and imported goods – for example if an importer with nothing to do with agriculture is buying fertiliser – was a key priority for the new unit.

Authority and cooperation

The director-general said that the department now has the authority to freeze a suspect’s account under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.

Subromaniam also emphasised the importance of providing information to and working with other authorities to follow illicit fund flows.

“We really need to… see where the money goes, to whom the money is sent and where the money ends up. On that, the police and the Bank Negara will be able to assist,” he says.

Categories: Trade Based Financial crimes News

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