10. December 2019

Malawian financial investigators sharpen their interviewing skills in a mock procurement case

Malawian investigators prepare for an interview

Financial investigators in Malawi have gained – and practised in mock interviews as part of a simulated investigation – vital skills in obtaining financial information from individuals involved in corruption cases.

Delivered by the training team of the Basel Institute’s International Centre for Asset Recovery, the intensive workshop took place in Lilongwe from 25-29 November 2019. Among the 12 participants were investigators from the Anti-Corruption Bureau and Malawi Police Service, plus representatives of the Malawi Revenue Authority and the Department of National Parks and Wildlife.


Although the trainers did not advocate one specific interviewing model, the participants were exposed to the following investigative interviewing skills:

  • the PEACE model, a well-known investigative interviewing approach based on cooperation and rapport;
  • the cognitive interview technique, which aims to help crime scene witnesses to recreate a mental picture of the events and give a detailed account;
  • the conversation management technique, for use on suspects and unwilling interviews.

The theoretical section of the workshop also covered the specificities of financial interviewing, including “cash on hand” and open-ended questions.

...and practice

The participants then conducted interviews against the backdrop of a hypothetical corruption and money laundering case. Customised to the Malawian environment and laws, the case involved a public procurement project to build 12 rural hospitals. The three ICAR trainers acted the part of the interviewees, including a variety of witnesses and suspects.

Following the interviews, it was gratifying to see that the participants could assemble the information gathered during the interviews into an accurate description of the case. If the case had been in real life, the information they gathered during the interviews would eventually serve to prove the relevant criminal and money laundering offences.

Wider context

ICAR’s training team is no stranger to Malawi, having delivered two five-day workshops on Financial Investigations and Asset Recovery and a third on Mutual Legal Assistance and the Misuse of Offshore Structures in the last two years.

These capacity building interventions support the Basel Institute’s long-term technical assistance programme in Malawi, in the context of the UK Department for International Development’s Tackling Serious Organised Corruption (TSOC) initiative.

A similar training workshop on Interviewing Skills for Financial Investigators was delivered in Tanzania last month – with the practical exercises customised to the Tanzanian context and laws – amid growing recognition by anti-corruption authorities of the value of boosting the interviewing skills of investigators.

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