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Mock trial on money-laundering in southern Viet Nam

Hanoi (Viet Nam), 4 December 2009 - Money-laundering is a process whereby the origin of funds generated by illegal means is concealed. The objective of the operation, which usually takes place in several stages, consists of making the funds and assets that are illegally obtained appear as though they have been derived from a legitimate source and then integrating them into the legitimate economy.

This sometimes sophisticated money-laundering operation makes it difficult for judicial and law enforcement officials in Viet Nam to investigate and prosecute money launderers and to confiscate the illegal proceeds of their activities.

To meet this challenge, it is essential to enhance the awareness of investigators, prosecutors and judges on money-laundering offences and to equip them with practical knowledge and skills in conducting criminal proceedings against money launderers.

In cooperation with the Ministry of Public Security, the Supreme People's Prosecution Office and the Supreme People's Court, the UNODC Country Office in Viet Nam conducted a mock trial on money-laundering in southern Viet Nam on 16-20 November 2009. The mock trial was attended by 43 representatives of the courts and prosecution offices of Ho Chi Minh City and the provinces of Da Nang, Can Tho, Bac Lieu, Tay Ninh, Ba Ria and Khanh Hoa, the Ministry of Public Security, the Ho Chi Minh Bar Association, the Prosecutor's School and the Police University.

During the mock trial, three judges and a State prosecutor from the Philippines were invited to demonstrate how suspected money launderers could be successfully prosecuted in their jurisdiction. The demonstration resulted in a dynamic discussion between the participants from the Philippines and those from Viet Nam. Both groups recognized the importance of preparing for trial, anticipating arguments used by the defence, presenting evidence and ensuring a fair hearing. Following the discussion, the participants were given the opportunity to conduct a mock trial using case materials from hearings held in the past in Viet Nam to try money launderers under the relevant articles of the country's Penal Code.

For the participants, this was the first hands-on experience in the trial process involving money-laundering offences. Hence, they were able to deepen their understanding of the provisions of the current legal framework to prosecute and convict money launderers. At the same time, they identified areas where the current legal provisions could be improved.

This mock trial is part of the three-year UNODC Viet Nam anti-money-laundering project, which aims to assist Viet Nam in increasing the detection, investigation, prosecution and trial capacities of Vietnamese law enforcement and judicial authorities with regard to money-laundering.