Focus on TBML in FATF report on money laundering linked to trade in fentanyl and synthetic opioids

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has published a report that aims to raise awareness about the opioid trade, including the use of precursor chemicals, and the related global financial flows.

Money Laundering from Fentanyl and Synthetic Opioids looks at the way proceeds are laundered from synthetic opioids trafficking and how organised crime groups use a range of methods including trade-based money laundering (TBML), bulk cash smuggling, cash couriers, and virtual assets, as well as shell companies and the services of professional money launderers.

Even though a majority of countries identify drug trafficking as a major predicate offence for money laundering, the FATF says the number of investigations and prosecutions concerning the laundering of proceeds from synthetic opioids trafficking remains low.

TBML focus

The report includes a case study on the use of online pharmaceutical companies and money transfers using TBML in India.

It also looks at how TBML or correspondent banking arrangements (including for trade-related financial transfers) may be used to facilitate the layering and integration stages in the money laundering process.


The report makes recommendations on the best approaches to detect and disrupt the criminal networks involved in the opioid trade, including improving risk understanding in this area, for example in understanding supply chains and the role of the pharmaceutical industry.

It further recommends using public-private partnerships to raise risk awareness, share red flag information and help the private sector better identify and report suspicious activity. The report also includes relevant risk indicators that will help identify potential trafficking of illicit synthetic opioids.

The FATF report, Money Laundering from Fentanyl and Synthetic OpioidsI, can be found here.


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