WCO holds Operation TENTACLE- Asia/Asia Pacific II Virtual Regional Workshop on Anti-Money Laundering/Counter-Terrorism Financing

06 July 2021

The World Customs Organization (WCO) Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) Programme, together with WCO partner organizations INTERPOL and the Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), launched the second AML/CTF workshop of 2021, “Operation TENTACLE-Asia/Asia Pacific II”, from 15 to 18 June 2021.  The virtual workshop was attended by over 40 representatives of Customs administrations and FIUs from 11 different countries as well as INTERPOL officers.

In his opening remarks, WCO Compliance and Facilitation Director Mr. Pranab Das highlighted the successful efforts of Project TENTACLE, “Operation TENTACLE not only teaches all its participants the fundamentals of money laundering and engages them through practical, real-world exercises, but it also builds in regional counter-bulk currency smuggling and counter-gems/precious metals smuggling operations that are conducted after the workshops.  This was evidenced through the first Operation TENTACLE effort that was conducted in the Asia/Asia Pacific region in 2019”. 

Operation TENTACLE Asia/Asia Pacific I, with the support of the 19 Customs Services and INTERPOL’s Financial Crimes unit, successfully led to the seizure and detention of over $5 million in a combination of currency and gold that were being smuggled across international borders.  The operation also resulted in the arrest of 14 money launderers.

AML/CTF experts, with substantive experience in the field, led the Operation TENTACLE Asia/Asia Pacific II Workshop.  Presentations were given by the India’s Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), the Israel Tax Authority, the Australian Border Force (ABF) and Brunei Customs.  These presentations focused on the current AML/CTF situation in their respective countries, with an emphasis on gold smuggling trends and cases.  On the third day of the Workshop, INTERPOL gave an overview of their role in fighting financial crime.

Mr. Taichi Nakayama, Intelligence Analyst at the WCO Regional Intelligence Liaison Office for the Asia/Pacific (RILO AP) region related, “This workshop gave me an opportunity to learn about money laundering on a deeper level.  As a reginal liaison office, I believe RILO AP can greatly contribute to Operation TENTACLE during the operational phase”.

Mr. Jairus Linparus, Acting Manager, Customs Intelligence and Investigations at Vanuatu Customs and Inland Revenue shared his experience, “The Workshop taught me a lot about anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing concepts.  I will share the knowledge I learned from the Workshop with my colleagues at the Vanuatu Intelligence and Investigations Division”.

Project TENTACLE is a WCO initiative to counter-bulk cash smuggling and gems and precious metals, with an emphasis on strengthening Members’ capacity to combat money laundering and terrorism financing in the Customs arena. The Operation TENTACLE capacity building workshops aim to raise the skillsets of front-line Customs officers, mid-level supervisors and FIU analysts in tackling currency smuggling, gems/precious metals smuggling and trade-based money laundering (TBML), among other money laundering methods.  Project TENTACLE is entirely funded by the U.S. Department of State-Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (DoS INL).