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Lao PDR: The Training of Custom Officers on Combating Cash Smuggling

The global illicit flow of goods, guns, people, and natural resources is estimated at approximately $650 billion . The illicit drug trade is estimated to be worth roughly $320 billion and counterfeiting $250 billion. These numbers reflect the potential for huge profits that is the fundamental driver of criminal trade.

In 2010-2011 the Lao PDR has seen a significant increase in the seizures of illicit drugs. This includes heroin, methamphetamine, marijuana and opium. An estimate of the total value of drugs trafficked through the Lao PDR in one year could be as high as 750 million to billion US dollars. Vast sums of money are generated and this contributes to increased corruption and money laundering.

UNODC is supporting the Government of the Lao PDR to address drug control, anti money laundering, anti corruption and anti terrorism. Preventing smuggling of cash is part of this effort.

Mr. Leik Boonwaat, UNODC Representative to the Lao PDR opened the training on the morning of the 5 March. The training provided 30 custom officers and two officers from the Bank of Lao's anti money laundering intelligence unit the opportunity to exchange experiences on cash smuggling and learn from the extensive expertises of Mr. Christopher Batt,  UNODC/World Bank Regional Mentor for Anti Money Laundering and Counter Financing of Terrorism  and Mr. Bernie Crossey of the British Customs who are organising and conducting this training.

This training is to learn the best practices in cash smuggling cases. The outcome is to raise the awareness and knowledge base of what constitutes cash and bearer negotiable bonds, cross border controls, money laundering and cash handling.

This includes the protection of the cash for proper investigation and to protect the integrity of the officer as well as how to conduct tactical questioning.

At the end of the course the officers should have a better understanding of the steps to take to support an effective cross border regime and to contribute to quality money laundering investigations and prosecutions.

They will also have learnt the benefits from having a good working relationship with other National Agencies in particular the anti money laundering intelligence unit. UNODC, Canada and the World Customs Organization supported the training. The training is being provided in the Lao PDR, Cambodia and Vietnam.