Cairo, Egypt - Financial crimes represent one of the most serious threats to development, peace, stability and security in North Africa. There are complex and transnational crimes that affect every country in the region. The economies of the region that have a large thriving informal sector, are seriously threatened by financial crimes such as money laundering, fraud, corruption and contraband, which cost the region several billions of dollars in illicit financial flows. Law enforcement agencies, particularly investigators, who are responsible for investigating such crimes for the purpose of effective prosecution in the region, are playing a crucial role in combating transnational criminal networks and syndicates and financial investigations are a first-rate method to that end.
It is against this backdrop that CCCPA, in cooperation with the ENACT Project (Enhancing Africa’s response to Transnational Organized Crime) at the Institute for Security Studies(ISS) co-organised a training workshop, entitled “Financial Crimes Investigation for Law Enforcement Agencies in North Africa”, from 21-25 October 2018.
The workshop brought together practitioners and investigators from law enforcement agencies including representatives from customs, police, Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) and Anti-Corruption Units from Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. The aim of the workshop was to enhance knowledge and investigative capabilities of law enforcement agencies in the region. Participants were trained on various techniques and strategies for preventing, detecting, intercepting, investigating and effectively prosecuting financial crimes such as money laundering, tax evasion, fraud and corruption. The workshop also discussed legal aspects linked to financial investigations, cyber criminality, the role of central banks and financial institutions as well as anti-money laundering techniques to combat terror financing. Last but not least, it also highlighted the need to strengthen national and regional cooperation in the area of investigation and prosecution of financial crimes. During the workshop, participants shared their national experiences and best practices in combatting financial investigations and provided updates on the latest trends, strategies and tactics of groups involved in financial crimes in North Africa.
The training was based on the manual entitled “Financial Investigations: A Basic Guide/Manual for Financial Investigators”, developed by Hannes Van Vuuren for the ENACT project, who was the lead trainer at the workshop.
Trainers from various Egyptian institutions including the Ministry of Interior, the Public Prosecution Office, the Countering Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Unit in the Central Bank, as well as trainers from the INTERPOL, United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), and regional experts in the field of cybercrime and banking sector, facilitated various thematic discussions on financial crimes investigation in North Africa at the workshop.
Opening the workshop, Ms. Iman Keira, Program Coordinator at CCCPA stated that the issue of financial crime is a multi-faceted one that raises salient questions with regard to prevention, detection and prosecution. “This workshop underscores the necessity to enhance technical cooperation and mutual legal assistance in the investigation of financial crimes in the region,” she told the workshop participants. She also highlighted the integrated approach of this workshop, which sought regional solutions in a south-south approach by capacitating officials to combat financial crime.
“When we think about strengthening cooperation, it is wise to start with countries in the same region and this workshop enabled us to do so as we were able to share best practices, as well as discuss common challenges in the field of tracing illicit financial proceeds. This will undoubtedly increase interaction to combat these crimes and prevent their occurrence in the future,” said one Egyptian participant representing the International Judicial Cooperation Department of the Public Prosecution Office.
A representative from the Tunisian Anti-Corruption Commission also added that “this workshop was an opportunity to engage other practitioners from within the region and provided an effective platform to exchange with local stakeholders involved in combatting financial crimes in Tunisia,” and also “provided new ways forward either legally or operationally to engage in innovative investigative financial techniques."
The training constituted part of the activities of the ENACT Project, funded by the European Union and implemented by the ISS, INTERPOL and the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime. In collaboration with ISS, CCCPA contributed to the implementation of the training as part of the activities of CCCPA's project "“Enhancing Peace, Security and Stability in Africa – IV, 2018-2019”, supported by UNDP and funded by the Government of Japan.