Thailand strengthens capacity to trace and investigate cryptocurrencies

Bangkok (Thailand), 31 July 2017
- UNODC has held the first of its Cryptocurrency Investigation Training (CIT) for Southeast Asia in Bangkok, Thailand from 18 to 20 July. The training comes at an opportune time, with law enforcement having conducted a series of successful operations in relation to the darknet, resulting in the shutdown of the two of the largest illegal marketplaces, AlphaBay and Hansa.

These two marketplaces were only the tip of the iceberg for what has developed into a multi-million-dollar industry where everything can be bought: illegal drugs, weapons, child abuse material, malware, stolen credit cards, online banking credentials or human traffickers-for-hire. Criminals on the darknet take advantage of complex technologies to remain hidden and Bitcoins are a popular semi-anonymous currency. "Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are routinely used in online criminal transactions - from darknet markets to ransomware payments," said Chief of UNODC's Global Programme on Cybercrime, Mr. Neil Walsh.

The training was designed to improve the capacity of law enforcement officers, analysts, prosecutors and judges in understanding the concept of cryptocurrencies, tracing Bitcoins in a financial investigation, locating resources for more information and collaborating on international casework. Participants also learned how to analyse transactions, infer and identify criminality and geo-locate criminals exploiting cryptocurrency.

UNODC's CIT was jointly developed by the Global Programme Against Money Laundering and the Global Programme on Cybercrime. "Our goal is to enhance understanding of the conceptual framework of cryptocurrency and develop the investigation skills in preventing misuse of this innovative technology for criminal purposes to break criminal cycle and to ensure secure society," said AMLO Deputy Secretary General, Police Major General Romsit Weeriyasan.

In addition, the CIT described the global landscape of cryptocurrency services and how it can be influenced by regulations. "A focus of the training is to help participants on how cryptocurrency-related compliance and due diligence can be conducted globally to help mitigate money laundering, terrorist financing and broader organised crimes," said Mr. Alexandru Caciuloiu, UNODC's Cybercrime Coordinator for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.

The CIT was a practical classroom session with a 2-part module, the first part being online. All participants passed the e-learning module in English. Currently, UNODC is translating the module to benefit a wider audience here in Thailand.

Twenty participants took part in the training from institutions such as the Bank of Thailand, Anti Money Laundering Office, Royal Thai Police, Royal Thai Cadet Academy, Department for Special Investigations, National Security Council, Electronic Transactions Development Agency, and the Office for Narcotics Control Board.

Click here to learn more about UNODC's work on cybercrime.