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Money-laundering and the real estate sector: Vietnamese Government officials find out more

Hanoi (Viet Nam), 25 May 2010
- In recent years, Viet Nam has experienced fast economic development with strong foreign direct investment, particularly in the real estate sector. However, the increased pace of economic development also presents a challenge to Viet Nam, a country which has yet to fully develop its regulatory framework to shield itself against criminals using real estate to launder the illegal proceeds of their crimes.

In view of this, the UNODC Country Office in Viet Nam organized a study visit from 17 to 18 May 2010 for a Vietnamese delegation to Hong Kong, China. Members of the delegation included representatives from the Ministry of Public Security, the Anti-Money-Laundering Department, the Ministry of Construction and the Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

The main purpose of the visit was to enable participants to better understand the vulnerability of the real estate sector to money-laundering and the legislative, law enforcement and regulatory measures that may be taken to combat money-laundering.

During the two-day study tour, the delegates visited Hong Kong's Joint Financial Intelligence Unit, the Narcotics Division of the Security Bureau and the Real Estate Authority. They learned about common money-laundering methods and indicators, the need for a balanced approach in regulating the real estate sector through education and enforcement, and the effectiveness of joint efforts in law enforcement, policy and legislation, as well as regulation in dealing with money-laundering.

At the end of the programme, the delegates concluded that Viet Nam was vulnerable to money-laundering operations due to its relatively weak regulatory framework and the lack of awareness among real estate agents and operators. They agreed that a practice circular needed to be issued to guide agents and operators in detecting and reporting suspicious activities. In line with UNODC's anti-money-laundering projects, the participants also agreed to organize before December 2010 additional workshops to further raise awareness among real estate agents and operators. Delegates also recommended ways to strengthen the capacity of the regulatory authorities at both the central and provincial level to carry out their functions under the Government's decree on anti-money-laundering.

Overall, UNODC's anti-money-laundering projects aim to assist Viet Nam in increasing the detection, investigation, prosecution and trial capacities of the Vietnamese law enforcement bodies and the judiciary to fight money-laundering. This most recent study visit to Hong Kong, China, was part of the three and a half year anti-money-laundering project implemented by UNODC.