Bangkok (Thailand), 11 January 2022 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in collaboration with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) organized a specialized cryptocurrencies workshop on supervision of virtual asset service providers (VASPs).
The two-day workshop attended by authorities from nine jurisdictions, was designed to assist authorities in their understanding of the current AML/CFT standards set by the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) and emerging ML/TF risk areas in the sector. The workshop also facilitated discussions among participants on supervisory best practices in the VASP sector and key considerations needed to develop a robust supervisory approach.
Participants noted that the dynamic cryptocurrency sector is moving fast, and agreed on the need for closer monitoring and engagement with the industry. Due to their pseudonymous and cross-border nature, cryptocurrencies may be exploited by Transnational Organized Crime Groups (TOCs) for illicit activities such as drugs trafficking, money laundering, terrorism financing, and ransomware payments. Ransomware alone, has increased to become the most prominent malware threat. According to Cybersecurity Ventures, global cybercrime is estimated to grow by 15% annually in the next 5 years, costing $10.5 USD trillion each year. Therefore, robust regulatory frameworks, along with strong investigation methodologies are needed to mitigate the risk of such illicit activities.
As ransomware attacks are one of the biggest cybercrime typologies affecting the region, UNODC has developed dedicated counter-ransomware support in the form of beginner and advanced training courses for law enforcement, mentoring, and operational support. Similarly, UNODC will launch a regional anti-ransomware awareness campaign in January 2022 to highlight the risks and potential mitigation measures to prevent or disrupt ransomware attacks. Regulation of the crypto space, as recommended also by the FATF, will effectively support governments efforts in countering ransomware attacks and other crypto related crimes.