Preventing the illicit flow of money to fund terrorism

Terrorists and organized criminal groups have turned to informal methods to move money across international borders in an attempt to circumvent anti-money-laundering and counter-financing of terrorism controls in the formal financial sector.

One such method is to employ couriers to carry large sums of cash or monetary instruments (some of which may be the proceeds of serious criminal offences) across borders, thus avoiding audit trails and other detection methods employed by the formal financial sector. In many cases, the funds are used to support terrorist activities.

Although most States have introduced measures to close this gap, some are struggling to detect and prevent the illicit movement of cash and bearer negotiable instruments (BNI). Couriers may transport not just cash, but also cheques, traveller’s cheques, money orders or other instruments. Through its dialogue with UN Member States, the Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) has found that a number of States face challenges in the areas of legislative and operational control. For example, they lack detection equipment, implement the relevant laws inconsistently, do not sufficiently ensure the sharing of information between their competent agencies, or have not applied risk indicators and targeting criteria appropriately.

CTED, in its capacity as a facilitator of technical assistance, is addressing the identified shortfalls by raising awareness and convening regional workshops to promote relevant international norms and practices. CTED recently organized, with the cooperation of the Southeast Asia Regional Centre for Counter-Terrorism, the first regional workshop on cash couriers. Held in Malaysia from 15 to 17 November 2011, the workshop brought together customs officers, prosecutors and officials of financial intelligence units from 10 States of the subregion. Representatives of Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam participated in interactive practical sessions covering such topics as effective border controls, cooperation and information exchange, evidence handling, and targeting of potential risky travellers.

Participants agreed that the workshop had provided the opportunity to acquire initial theoretical and practical knowledge of required controls of cross-border transportation of cash and BNI, but that further work in this area should be conducted at the national level. They added that the workshop had provided an ideal forum for the exchange of effective practices in this area and for raising awareness of common challenges in the subregion.

Similar workshops are planned for 2012 in the Pacific, East Africa and Caribbean subregions.

This page was last updated on: 26-Oct-2011 3:41 PM EST