Stopping cash couriers in Africa

International experts trained customs officers and financial intelligent unit (FIU) analysts in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia on controlling the cross-border movement of cash.

Because cross-border cash may be used to finance acts of terrorism, authorities must gather as much information as possible at check points.

CTED and the UNODC Global Programme against Money-Laundering (GPML) facilitated the training sessions, which were held from 18 January to 7 February 2014 with funding from the Netherlands.

"In Africa, cash is still king because most economies are informal," said CTED Legal Officer Anne-Chris Visser. "An easily accessible financial infrastructure is often lacking and expensive. Most trade – small and large, up to buying property – still takes place in cash and in various currencies." Underdeveloped banking systems and weak border controls create opportunities to transport cash across borders, often illegally, further destabilizing the economies of East and Southern Africa.

During the country visits conducted by CTED in the region on behalf of the Counter-Terrorism Committee, States requested assistance in setting up cross-border declaration or disclosure systems that require travellers to declare cash amounts higher than the equivalent of USD 10,000. With this information, the authorities can develop better risk indicators to target passengers that may not be complying for further scrutiny.

The training sessions were held as a response to those requests, as was a regional workshop CTED organized in 2013 for 17 African States. The in-country training for customs officers and FIU analysts of Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia and Zambia aimed to improve practitioners' interviewing and interrogation techniques and their ability to develop risk indicators and seize cash. The training process was facilitated by GPML consultants.

"The key to a successful interrogation is to find the normal and question the abnormal so as to pinpoint the cash courier's lies," said UNODC/GPML trainer Bernie Crossey.

Both in the regional workshop and the training sessions the practitioners investigated a mock case. They interviewed a potential cash courier, seized cash, shared information across agencies, and coordinated their work to prepare the case for court.

This page was last updated on: 11-Feb-2014 2:42 PM EST