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UNODC promotes Asia Pacific asset recovery inter-agency network



Seoul (Republic of Korea), 6 December 2012
- In Asia and around the world, criminals use increasingly more complex money laundering methods to hide the origins of illegally obtained funds generated by their activities. Money laundering poses serious challenges to the economies and national security of nations.

National investigation and prosecution authorities understand that "following the money" - mapping the flow of illicit funds in order to recover them - is the most effective way to combat money laundering. Doing so leads back to the money's source, potentially allowing it to be confiscated and the illicit cash flows stopped.

It is, however, an extremely difficult task: Less than 1% of illicit financial flows around the globe are seized and frozen, according to the recent UNODC study, Estimating illicit financial flows resulting from drug trafficking and other transnational organized crimes (click here to download the report).

Law enforcement officials are often constrained by national borders and lack of cross-border cooperation, unlike criminals who are not bound by jurisdictions or borders, and can move illegally obtained money from country to country.

To overcome this, Towards AsiaJust Programme (TAJ), a sub-programme of the UNODC Regional Centre in East Asia and the Pacific, has worked to form an Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Asia and the Pacific (ARIN-AP), a regional network of prosecutors and law enforcement to promote the comprehensive cross-border cooperation and Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) necessary to effectively combat money laundering.

At the Expert meeting to develop Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network in Asia and the Pacific, in Seoul 4-5 December, attendees discussed how to establish an effective ARIN for Asia and the Pacific.

Organized by the UNODC, with support from the Supreme Prosecutors Office (SPO) of the Republic of Korea and UNODC Vienna's Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML), the meeting drew practitioners and scholars from Australia, China, Indonesia, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand, as well as representatives from UNODC GPML and from the ARIN Secretariats currently established In Europe (CARIN), South Africa (ARINSA) and South America (RRAG).

Ms. Jennifer Bramlette, Programme Manager at GPML, explained how UNODC could support Member States to establish ARIN-AP.

"ARIN-AP will be developed by and for yourselves based on your needs," said Ms. Bramlette, "UNODC will provide technical assistance and mentor experts to solidify ARIN in Asia Pacific."

The Korean SPO offered to house the Secretariat of the future ARIN-AP and provide critical support.

"An inter-agency regional network is essential to successfully forfeit assets from criminals. That is why the Korean SPO would like to facilitate the creation of an ARIN-AP Secretariat," said Mr. Sangjin Park, a Korean SPO prosecutor. "In January 2013, we will set up an ARIN-AP web page and then organize a meeting for Q1 2013 to solicit countries' participation in our endeavor."

Though participants agreed on the benefits and necessity of ARIN-AP, some expressed concern about disparities in economic and judicial development and differences in languages and legal systems among countries in the region.

"Many different legal systems exist in Asia and the Pacific," said Mr. Mark Charoenwong, of Thailand's Office of the Attorney General. "This is likely to hinder development of ARIN-AP."

The three Secretariats attending the meeting shared their practical experiences in establishing and managing ARINs.

"During our set-up process, we had to overcome challenges including a clear definition of our work, selecting the right contact persons, and our geographical coverage, all of which must be considered in advance of creating ARIN-AP," said Ms. Jill Thomas, of Europol, where the Secretariat of the European ARIN, CARIN, is located.

At the conclusion of the conference, attendees were presented with Conclusions of the Expert meeting to develop Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network in Asia and the Pacific. The report contains prerequisites, requirements, expectations, suggestions and views raised by participants throughout the meetings in regards to the establishment of ARIN-AP.



Background:

Funded by the Republic of Korea, the "Towards AsiaJust" Programme aims to provide a regional framework to implement the Rule of Law in Asia and the Pacific by supporting the attainment of judicial independence and integrity as well as the capacity to respond efficiently to transnational organized crime by means of a transnational organized justice scheme.