UNODC launches training to tackle cryptocurrency-enabled Organized Crime

UNODC launches training to tackle money laundering and bitcoin banking fraud. Image: UNODC8 May 2017 - Cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, are being increasingly used to move criminal proceeds. In response to this phenomenon, UNODC has developed a world-leading Cryptocurrency Investigation Train-the-Trainers course and delivered, in recent weeks, the first courses on cryptocurrency investigation.

Law enforcement experts from 22 countries and UNODC regional staff participated in the Cryptocurrency Investigation Training course, and learned about the business profile and global ecosystem of cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. The practitioners got first-hand information about how to conduct bitcoin tracing as a part of a wider financial investigation, as leading law enforcement experts from the United States showcased how to plan bitcoins investigations, where to obtain information, and how to collaborate internationally on casework.

Presenting an overview of the training, a participant from India highlighted the importance of such initiatives. "The training was a unique program where I could not only understand the conceptual framework of cryptocurrency but also get familiar with the ongoing criminal activities using bitcoins and nuances of their investigation including bitcoins-facilitated illicit international trafficking of drugs and weapons," he said.

The course also focused on developing a new set of skills for participants such as understanding the cryptocurrency concept and cooperating internationally on cryptocurrency cases.

UNODC builds partnership with the actors from RegTech and FinTech sector, and collaborates with cryptocurrency industry leaders like Chainalysis Inc. to assist law enforcement officers and analysts to trace illegal financial flows.

Michael Gronager, CEO of Chainalysis Inc, said: "We partnered with UNODC on creating the comprehensive train-the-trainers program on analysis, tracing and investigation of cryptocurrencies. It is a highly important topic: the use of Virtual Currencies is steadily growing and today analysts, law enforcers and prosecutors need training to collect and disseminate data gathered by exchanges and brokers thus supporting the expertise of national agencies in preventing misuse of this innovative technology for criminal purposes."

A second course, focusing on the analysis of cryptocurrency transactions, chokepoints investigation, Bitcoin AML framework and case studies, was delivered to participants from more than 20 countries. Throughout the training, participants learned to speak the same analytical cryptocurrency language and spread the acquired knowledge among colleagues in their jurisdictions.

On that point, Neil Walsh, UNODC Chief of the Global Programme on Cybercrime, said: "It's thanks to donor Governments such as the UK, USA, Norway that UNODC GPML has been able to develop and deliver this innovative course."

Criminals and terrorists seek to exploit the anonymity of dark net markets and cryptocurrencies to buy weapons, child abuse material, drugs and cybercrime exploit kits. Using UNODC's niche training, mentoring and advice, law enforcers around the globe are minimizing the ability of criminals to evade capture and harm society.

Further Information:

UNODC's Global Programme against Money-Laundering Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism

UNODC's Global Programme against Cybercrime