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UNODC facilitates cross-border money-laundering training for Lao PDR customs officers

Vientiane & Luang Prabang (Lao PDR), 27 February 2017
- UNODC's Global Programme against Money Laundering (GPML) has been working with customs officers Lao PDR customs officers to improve the controls and techniques they use to combat the smuggling of money across Lao PDR's borders. As part of this direction, two separate week-long Cash Courier workshops have been delivered in Vientiane and Luang Prabang in cooperation with the British Embassy in Lao.

Lao's 5,000 km perimeter of neighbouring borders present an opportunity for organised criminal groups to smuggle money associated with crime into and out of the country. Being landlocked, Lao also encounters cash couriers passing through its airports.

"customs officers at airports and border crossings in Laos represent the front line when it comes to locating and seizing cash believed to be the proceeds of crime or intended for use in crime," said Mr. Chris Batt, UNODC AML/CFT Advisor to the Mekong Region.

To address these challenges, sixty-five customs officers from Lao Customs, Police and the FIU were trained in current cash smuggling and anti-money laundering techniques, intelligence development, practical interviewing techniques, cash forensics and evidence handling. Participants also conducted practical cash seizure operations during the course, using forensic 'cash kits' to preserve the suspected cash for fingerprints, DNA and possible contamination. They also carried out interviews with suspected cash couriers.

"Many of these cash seizures form the starting point for money laundering investigations and prosecutions" said Mr Crossey, UNODC/WCO Cash Courier Expert. "the work carried out by Customs in this area is also important because seizing the proceeds of crime helps to remove the lifeblood of future criminality."

With the training in the centre and north of Lao PDR complete, UNODC will now design and deliver a pocket guide for the identification, detection and handling of cash couriers which will be issued to every Customs Officer in the country. A third cash courier course is also being planned for the southern part of Lao for the second half of 2017.