Final workshop in Romania on best ways to detect and uncover illicit networks and their financial crimes

February 2018 has seen the last iteration of the successful "Mapping and Visualizing Cross-Border Crime Project”, a partnership between the Basel Institute on Governance and two not-for-profit organisations in Romania, namely, the Journalism Development Network (JDN) and the Rise Project. 

This three-year initiative had funding support from the Swiss–Romanian Cooperation Program. His Excellency Urs Herren, the Swiss Ambassador to the Republic of Romania, opened the last workshop held in Bucarest (Romania) on 21-22 February, emphasising once again how investigative journalists and Law Enforcement Agencies can successfully join forces in the investigation of complex crimes, particularly financial. 

The project, which comprised of 5 workshops organised in Switzerland and Romania, had the objective of enhancing the investigative and research skills of journalists, law enforcement and investigative non-state actors in the two countries to detect and uncover local and cross-border illicit networks, and to increase the exposure of organised crime structures as well as their modus operandi.

In the course of the last three years, and in the context of this project, experts of the Basel Institute’s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) provided their training expertise in financial investigations and asset recovery, and in introducing and applying ICAR’s existing tools that support these investigative processes, including, for example, its Basel Open Intelligence (BOI).

Participants to the five workshops learnt about the concept of money laundering and the use of offshore structures to conceal the beneficial ownership of illicit assets as well as investigative techniques in relation to corruption investigations. Practical exercises focused on intelligence gathering and financial investigations to trace assets by using open source information and technology tools. Participants were also exposed to the use by criminals of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin to launder the proceeds of their crimes.

While the experts from the ICAR focused on investigation techniques and the legal framework from a law enforcement perspective, the experts from RISE provided case examples in exposing financial crime through the use of open sources in their capacity as investigative journalists.