The Basel Institute’s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) continues to support DFID’s Tackling Serious Organised Corruption (TSOC) programme in Malawi by enhancing local capacity to investigate, prosecute and adjudicate complex financial cases, including money laundering.
The Panama Papers provided proof to the world of something that had long been suspected: the secrecy havens – jurisdictions in which global financial flows were hidden in ways that not even those entrusted with enforcing the laws and regulations of countries around the world could detect – were being used by those engaged in a host of nefarious activities, from tax evasion to corruption and even to child pornography.
The Basel Institute on Governance participated in several workshops between 8 and 9 October 2012 with key stakeholders of the South African anti-corruption system (Asset Forfeiture Unit of the National Prosecuting Authority, Special Investigating Unit, Department of Public Service Administration, South African Revenue Services, National Treasury, Directorate for Priority Crimes Investigations of the South African Police Services) at a special session hosted by the Anti-Corruption Task Team (ACTT).
A fundamental priority for law enforcement authorities dealing with financial crime is to recover illegally obtained assets and deny criminals access to the proceeds of their crime. The recovery of illegally obtained assets, however, requires first to successfully trace them.
It has been estimated that roughly 1.6 trillion USD in criminal proceeds are laundered through the international financial system each year. To put this in perspective, this sum is more than the combined GDPs of Switzerland, Portugal, Romania, Belarus, and Austria in 2011.
In many countries, criminal investigations are primarily directed towards the investigation of the underlying criminality. It is still comparatively rare for investigators, as a routine part of the investigation of major proceeds-generating offences, to “follow the money”. To trace money and property successfully, the investigator must be equipped to uncover and identify ownership interests often camouflaged by changes in the form and nature of the ownership.