Out-Law / Your Daily Need-To-Know

Interpol financial crime centre highlights global cooperation in fighting corruption

Out-Law News | 22 Mar 2022 | 2:53 pm | 2 min. read

World police organisation Interpol has launched the Interpol Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre (IFCACC) to help combat “exponential” growth in cross-border financial crime.

Interpol’s secretary general Jürgen Stock said IFCACC would help centralise the international response to transnational financial crime and corruption.

The centre will work with other agencies to strengthen collective efforts against financial crime and corruption, including the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the FATF-Style Regional Bodies (FSRBs), the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units, law enforcement agencies, police organisations and the financial sector.

Corporate crime risk expert Edward James of Pinsent Masons said: “I am hopeful that the establishment of the IFCACC will make the pursuit of cross-border financial crimes on behalf of victims more seamless and effective. Having a single point of contact to engage with and assist with the coordination of targeted cross-border investigations will undoubtedly help in this regard.”

Interpol said the centre would provide investigative, operational and analytical support to help target fraud and payment crime, money laundering and asset recovery, and corruption. It will coordinate regional and international operations, provide training to law enforcement officers and financial intelligence units as well as produce reports and guidelines to highlight best practice.

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Edward James

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Having a single point of contact to engage with and assist with the coordination of targeted cross-border investigations will undoubtedly help make the pursuit of cross-border financial crimes on behalf of victims more seamless and effective

The centre will coordinate operations targeting telecom fraud and other types of social engineering scams, money laundering and corruption in sport, and support Interpol projects in areas such as human trafficking or environmental crime with a financial crime or corruption element.

Interpol said IFCACC would lead its efforts providing operational support against money laundering associated with virtual assets.

IFCACC will also coordinate Interpol’s HAECHI operations targeting cyber-enabled financial crime. To date the two HAECHI operations involved law enforcement agencies in 20 countries and intercepted over US$100 million in illicit funds.

James said that the cross-border element of the new initiative would prove invaluable in the fight against financial crime.

“As corporate crime experts and investigators, we increasingly see complex cross-border financial crimes that are difficult to detect, properly investigate and adequately address when seeking to recovery ill-begotten gains,” he said.

“Each country has its own legal rules and enforcement agencies, which makes coordinating a cross‑border investigation on behalf of a client that has been the victim a very difficult endeavour. For example, we may see an online scammer perpetrate a scheme to defraud a company in South Africa by, for example, tricking the company in South Africa into changing the bank account details of a key supplier and paying the invoices of that supplier into a new account. The account may be held by a ‘mule’ in South Africa, paid to open an account and receive and then pay-out money. Upon receiving the stolen funds, the account holder may then pay the money to an account held in Kenya,” he said.

He added: “The account holder in Kenya may also be another link in the chain and they may in turn pay the money straight out to an account held in the United Arab Emirates, where the actual perpetrator resides. Just following the money in this example would require enforcement action to subpoena bank account records and contra account information in South Africa, Kenya and the UAE. Actually pursuing the perpetrators would equally require police, and possibly civil, action in three countries”.

Separately FATF recently released an updated version of its international standards on combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation.

The latest version of the FATF Recommendations (142 page / 2.05MB PDF) incorporates changes to recommendation 24, which requires countries to prevent the misuse of legal persons for money laundering or terrorist financing and to ensure that there is adequate, accurate and up-to-date information on the beneficial ownership and control of legal persons.

FATF said it had identified a “generally insufficient” level of effectiveness in combating the misuse of legal persons for money laundering or terrorist financing, adding that countries need to do more to implement FATF standards.

Earlier this year a report from Transparency International suggested that the vast majority of countries had made little or no progress in fighting global corruption and profiteering had risen in 23 nations.