Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing

The main driving forces behind crime are the lure of profit. However, the origin of this profit should be disguised in order to be able to use it in the subsequent operations. Thus, criminal organizations face problems related to making the proceeds of crime appear as deriving from the legitimate sources. The opaqueness of international finance (tax havens, bogus companies and the anonymity of international transactions) offers criminals a vast range of options. Customs administrations have an essential role to play in anti-money laundering activities because of their presence at borders, legal powers, knowledge of trade, and experience.

The WCO has actively championed anti-money laundering programmes and has enhanced its Members’ ability to fight money laundering by increasing awareness, developing training programmes, developing legal instruments, promoting the CEN suite including its seizure database, and advocating best practices.

In 2001, the WCO issued a comprehensive anti-money laundering recommendation entitled the Recommendation of the Customs Co-operation Council on the need to develop and strengthen the role of Customs administrations in tackling money laundering and recovering the proceeds of crime. In 2005, the WCO revised the existing Recommendation on money laundering to include references to the relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions and the new Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Recommendations. The new WCO Recommendation, which reaffirms the role of Customs in the fight against money laundering and widens the scope of the Recommendation to cover terrorist financing, was adopted by the WCO Council in June of 2005.

International co-operation is also an essential component of law enforcement efforts. Customs and other law enforcement agencies around the world are confronted today with the phenomenon of globalisation of crime. Identifying and stopping illicit capital flows at the border is an effective way to cut financial lifelines of criminal and terrorist groups.

Partnership with other international organizations is an important component of the WCO anti-money laundering and anti-terrorist financing strategy. The WCO has been an active contributor to fora and initiatives of the FATF, INTERPOL, Europol, and other relevant bodies. The global Customs community is strongly committed to working with its counterparts to fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.