Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries

Advanced inter-regional Training on "Illicit use of Money or Value Transfer Services (MVTS)" and the Regional 'FIU to FIU' Meeting

Beijing July 2019 

Money or value transfer services (MVTS) represent, at times, the only financial services to transfer cash or other monetary instruments especially in particular geographic regions such as West and Central Asia. These services are described by a variety of specific terms such as hawala, hundi, and fei-chen, following a wide range of business models which are formally considered legal. Of concern is the abuse that criminals make of them by, for example, moving funds to further their illicit activities including money laundering, terrorism financing, and drug trafficking.

Understanding how MVTS works and therefore, how they can be exploited by criminals is essential to prevent its abuse. Knowledge-based investigations, intelligence sharing, suspicious transactions monitoring, reporting and sharing are important to prevent the illicit use of MVTS.

In this regard, representatives from the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Islamic Republic of Pakistan, Tajikistan, Republic of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, recently joined efforts to share experiences and best practices on combating the abuse of the money and value transfer services (MVTS). The training was held as part of UNODC's Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries (RP) funded by contributions from the government of Finland.

The inter-regional training course, entitled "Reducing the risks from the abuse of Money and Value Transfer Services (MVTS)", was convened in Beijing, China from 1-5 July 2019. Together with the RP, the training course was organised in partnership with the People's Bank of China with the support of UNODC's Global Programme against Money Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and Financing of Terrorism (GPML).

The workshop was attended by experts on Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism from the relevant law enforcement agencies, Financial Intelligence Units, prosecuting authorities, customs agencies, central banks and Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

During the five-day event, the participants received training and deliberated upon a broad variety of topics including: the importance of strengthening the network of experts with specialist understanding of the abuse of MVTS and how to disrupt it, financial disruption methodology using scenarios based on the abuse of MVTS by transnational organised crime networks, sharing understanding of current threats posed by the abuse of MVTS, vulnerabilities of criminal money laundering networks and financial disruption options, identifying critical information requirements and share information standards, sensitive investigation techniques; forensics strategies and evidence handling; and the challenges of prosecuting crimes across different legal systems. Mock investigations and the study of practical cases were part of the training programme and helped the participants to increase their ability to effectively investigate the abuse of MVTS.

At the end of the training, a regional FIU to FIU meeting took place during which the countries shared information on the Memorandum of Understanding currently in place among countries in the region as well on current threats. Additionally, UNODC facilitated bilateral meetings between regional countries during which operational information was shared.

UNODC thanked the government of Finland for funding the event.