West and Central Asia: UNODC holds inter-regional workshop to counter illicit use of money or value transfer services

Hwala market, Afghanistan. © Institute for Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion16 January 2018 - Money or value transfer services (MVTS) represent, at times, the only financial means to transfer cash or monetary instruments, particularly in West and Central Asia. While these services are considered legal, of concern is the abuse by criminals, including money laundering, terrorism financing, and drug trafficking.

With a view to preventing and combating the abuse of MVTS, UNODC, through its Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighouring Countries, recently organized an inter-regional training in Beijing, China, and trained experts from West and Central Asia.

"Criminal enterprise can't take place if criminals, insurgents and terrorists can't move their money," said Jeremy Milsom, UNODC Senior Programme Coordinator at the opening session.

"Building our skills in preventing misuse of MVTS is an important element of our work. It can help turn the tide in Afghanistan, strengthen regional security and enable greater economic development and prosperity."

During the five-day event, participants discussed a wide range of topics, including current threats, vulnerabilities of criminal money laundering networks, forensics strategies and evidence handling, financial disruption methodology and options, and the challenges of prosecuting crimes across different legal systems. Mock investigations and the study of practical cases were also part of the training programme and helped participants learn effectively investigate the abuse of MVTS.

A number of participants stressed that law enforcement officials are often constrained by national boundaries and lack of cross-border cooperation. In this regard, Sattar Ahmadi (Iran) said his delegation was looking forward to strengthened inter-agency cooperation in the region.

At the end of the training, financial intelligence units met to share information on the regional Memorandum of Understanding and those to be negotiated. UNODC facilitated a number of bilateral meetings, at which operational information was exchanged.

Funded by the European Union, the workshop was organized in cooperation with the Anti-money Laundering Bureau of the People's Bank of China and supported by UNODC's Global Programme against Money-Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism (GPML). Attending were several representatives of law enforcement agencies, financial intelligence units, anti-corruption institutions, Ministries for Finance and Interior as well as police of Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Further information:

Global Programme against Money-Laundering, Proceeds of Crime and the Financing of Terrorism

Regional Programme for Afghanistan and Neighbouring Countries