24 July 2008 - UNODC's information technology tool designed to help countries fight financial crimes such as money-laundering and the financing of terrorism, goAML, was installed last week in the Financial Intelligence Centre (FIC) of Namibia, upon request by the country's National Bank. The software, created by UNODC's Information Technology Section, is the prototype for a set of IT tools being developed by UNODC to help financial intelligence and law enforcement agencies step up their fight against organized crime.
Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), such as the Namibian FIC, are usually independent bodies responsible for receiving, processing, analysing and reporting suspicious money transactions in line with domestic anti-money-laundering laws and regulations. goAML aims to provide FIUs - irrespective of size and resources - with a comprehensive and efficient IT tool to fulfil their mandates.
The software can analyze large volumes of data and help identify and understand complex patterns of financial transactions. It also aims to introduce an element of standardization in practices for gathering and processing financial intelligence information worldwide, in order to make international cooperation easier in the fight against financial crime.
Many developing countries cannot afford to invest the amounts of money required to develop IT systems and capacity that would allow FIUs to collect, store and analyse large volumes of data in a timely manner. goAML was developed by UNODC as a response to this lack of affordable "off the shelf" software solutions for FIUs, particularly in developing countries. According to money-laundering analyst Michiel van Dyk, this type of software could cost between 3 to 6 million US$ in the open market. While a large FIU in the developed world can spend up to 60 per cent of their annual budget on IT solutions to carry out their work, such a budget is unrealistic for many developing countries. UNODC provides the goAML application to Member States free-of-charge, with installation and licensing costs at approximately US$ 200,000.
goAML was received with appreciation and enthusiasm in Namibia. Eight financial intelligence analysts were trained to use the application, and they will introduce goAML to the National Bank. Templates have been customized to suit particular local needs, such as for Suspicious Transaction Reports, and thanks to the new system, banks are now expected to submit reports online.
There is already widespread interest in goAML. The Financial Intelligence Centre in Pristina, Kosovo, will install the software next month. Moreover, the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units - which has 108 members - will formally test and evaluate it, with two of the world's leading FIUs, Canada and Australia, committing significant resources to the assessment.