Long considered one of the toughest illicit finance schemes to crack, trade-based money laundering is on the rise in response to stricter regulatory oversight of financial institutions, U.S. investigators said Monday.
Trade-based schemes and bulk cash smuggling are among the most common tactics used by international money launderers, according to Joseph Gallion, the deputy assistant director of the Financial, Narcotics and Special Operations Division for the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Three recently adopted international treaties drafted to foster trade between the Americas and Europe will also make it easier for financial criminals to launder money, say attorneys and former investigators.
Revisions to Mexico's anti-money laundering strategy promised earlier this month must account for regulatory-gaps in trade-based money laundering, the continuing problem of casas de cambio and the use of U.S. dollars in Mexico, say ex-law enforcement officials and compliance professionals.
Criminals are exploiting inadequate safeguards in free trade zones to launder money, evade taxes and illegally ship material used to build weapons of mass destruction, according to an intergovernmental group.
The U.S. Treasury Department's financial intelligence unit issued guidance Thursday on how to spot and report transactions tied to trade-based money laundering, a type of crime on the rise.
Countries need to establish training programs to help bank regulators and law enforcement agents detect the growing problem of trade-based money laundering, FATF said in guidance issued Tuesday.
Mexico and the United States will create a joint trade intelligence organization to collect and analyze data on the movement of goods between the two countries as part of an effort to stem money laundering and fraud.
The Financial Action Task Force, a global financial crime watchdog is set to release three reports highlighting the methods that money launderers and terrorists can employ to exploit trade and electronic commerce and facilitate weapons proliferation.
The Bush Administration is seeking a 7 percent budget increase next year for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement that includes about $4 million for units that investigate bulk cash smuggling and trade finance-related money laundering.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement official Kevin Delli-Colli spoke with Fortent Inform reporter Matt Squire on Nov. 28 about bulk cash smuggling and what banks should be looking for when it comes to trade transactions.