Money Laundering


A study by the Global Financial Integrity (GFI) entitled 'Illicit Financial Flows from Developing Countries: 2004-2013' conservatively estimated that US$1.1 trillion left developing countries in illicit financial outflows. Sub-Saharan African countries experienced the bulk of illicit financial outflows.

Southern Africa as part of Sub-Saharan Africa is not immune to illicit financial flows and measures are being put in place to address the problem. Transnational organized crime across Southern Africa continued to increase in recent years. Illicit trade in the SADC region includes a range of items such as illicit drugs and precursor chemicals, small arms and light weapons, wildlife and natural resources, tobacco products and fraudulent medicines, as well as trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants.

Challenges in the region

Illicit trafficking is among the most challenging forms of crime in the region. It is an integral part of the organised crime chain, both facilitating the spread of illicit contraband and generating considerable profits for those involved. Transnational organised crime groups take advantage of the long and porous borders, the ease of cross-border trade, the diversity of individual countries' legislations, and the lack of information-sharing and cooperation among law enforcement agencies in the region. The proceeds from crime eventually have to be integrated into the international financial system in order for the illegal networks to conduct their operations. The latter has been evidenced by an increase in cash smuggling cases in Southern Africa. 

The criminal justice systems of most jurisdictions in the SADC region are generally weak in the face of challenges posed by organised crime, and in particular, financial crimes and money-laundering. Law enforcement agents regularly focus on confiscating physical objects such as bags of money, drugs, rhino horn etc., rather than tracking and seizing the proceeds of crime from the criminal networks.

Effective law enforcement requires tracking, confiscating and seizing the proceeds of crime in so doing making it more difficult to launder the proceeds of crime.

 The Regional Response

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Southern Africa, is providing technical assistance to SADC member states to address the problem of money laundering guided by the international instruments namely; 3 Drug Control Conventions (Convention on Psychotropic Substances (1971), United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988), Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs (1961) ), the Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and the Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), as well as the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. It has also supported the adoption of global standards developed by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the major standard-setter in the field of Anti-Money Laundering (AML).

Capacity of member states is built through provision of training to law enforcement agencies in investigation, prosecution and adjudication of money laundering cases with the main aim of seizing the proceeds of crime. UNODC reinforced its efforts to support Member States in the region in tackling money laundering through one of its flagship initiatives, the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA), which enhances regional cooperation through increased timely exchange of information. It continues to strengthen exchange of best practises at bilateral, regional and international levels and to strengthen joint operations and coordination including in the area of preventive measures.

UNODC Southern Africa in AML and proceeds of crime is guided by the following objective:

  • Assist Member States to prevent and suppress illicit financial flows (IFF) from drugs and crime and to implement UN conventions and internationally accepted standards for anti-money laundering (AML).

What we do?

  • Assist Member States to have mandated and trained national regulatory and financial supervisory officials, judiciary and law enforcement officials, including Financial Intelligence Units personnel, to deal with AML. Read More ...
  • Expert technical advice and inputs provided to inter-regional and international stakeholders dealing with AML matters; Read More...
  • Assist Member States to have an operational informal, regional network for the confiscation and forfeiture of criminal proceeds. Read More...

 UNODC Southern Africa has provided training in the region which has subsequently led to convictions in money laundering and proceeds of crime cases.