Strengthening Anti-Corruption Investigations in Cambodia

Cambodia (Online), 3 November 2021 - The First Review of the Cambodia’s implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) notes the importance of capacity building on investigation techniques, the application of best practices to overcome financial bank secrecy approaches, and the use of data analysis and inter-agency information sharing. Recent revelations as part of the Pandora Papers shows that a wide range of trusts and offshore companies are used to hide wealth and assets, and to conceal the looting of cultural and historical artifacts in Cambodia, among other forms of crime.

Participants discuss tactics to uncover hidden finances, as part of training scenario

To support the UNCAC’s recommendations, building on recent trainings on procurement integrity and financial investigations, UNODC held a training on advanced anti-corruption investigation techniques for the Cambodian Anti-Corruption Unit, over 26-28 October and 2-3 November 2021. The event brought together some 26 legal, anti-corruption and investigation officers, and revolved around a simulated scenario as a basis for studying best practices on information exchange, Anti-Money Laundering, formal and informal Mutual Legal Assistance approaches, financial investigation skills and evidence gathering.

Topics discussed during the training include:

Hidden wealth can be linked to many types of crime

Among the challenges faced by investigators is assessing the crimes committed as part of efforts to hide money in foreign jurisdictions. These can include abuse of functions, bribery, money laundering and illicit enrichment. Additionally, efforts to obscure financial transparency frequently belie other underlying crime typologies, such as the trafficking of illegal wildlife products or illicit drugs.

Officers discuss possible corruption red flags within simulated case documents

Investigators should make sure of a wide range of information sharing channels

Article 46 of the UNCAC requires State Parties to support one another through “the widest measure of mutual legal assistance in investigations, prosecutions and judicial proceedings” on corruption. It is important to note that Convention mandates cooperation via both formal and informal channels, each of which presents different advantages for those seeking to progress corruption cases. Where appropriate, initial information or intelligence should be sought through informal police-to-police contact, which is faster, cheaper and more flexible than formal mechanisms (UNODC 2001). This can be actioned alongside formal Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) requests, which may be required to gather evidence that is admissible in court, to obtain detailed financial data like bank statements and to mandate coercive measures such as interviewing subjects, executing a search warrant or freezing accounts.

This training was part of activities funded by prosperity programming of the Government of the United Kingdom. Footage (where available) and written summaries of UNODC events are publicly available via our website.

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