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Participants to the regional event.

UNICRI Empowers Experts to Investigate and Disrupt Proliferation Finance in Southeast Asia

The United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) successfully conducted its second regional training on "Counter-proliferation Finance Investigation and Disruption" in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 18 to 22 March 2024. 

The event brought together 24 experts from Cambodia, the Philippines, and Lao People’s Democratic Republic (PDR), representing a diverse range of national agencies, including Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), Central Banks, law enforcement agencies, judiciary bodies, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Public Security. Ten Head of Compliance Officers from relevant Malaysian financial institutions also joined the activities as observers.

The intensive training programme covered a wide array of topics essential for investigating and disrupting proliferation finance. Participants engaged in interactive sessions encompassing procurement case studies, financial investigation management, inter-agency cooperation, investigative techniques, international inquiries, public-private financial intelligence partnerships, red flags of suspected proliferation finance, the misuse of virtual assets and more.

UNICRI facilitated participant engagement through practical tools such as tabletop exercises and scenario-based discussions, simulating real-life cases to enhance learning and the application of acquired knowledge.

A significant milestone achieved during the training was the presentation of the guidelines handbook for private sector stakeholders. This handbook, aimed at aiding financial institutions and virtual asset service providers, provides insights into detecting and identifying suspicious PF activities. It covers red flags, typologies, emerging trends such as the misuse of virtual assets, and guidance on recognizing them.

Anticipated to be a joint UNICRI-FIU tool, the handbook is expected to play a pivotal role in disseminating knowledge and encouraging its daily use by financial institutions. Financial Intelligence Units from partner countries will spearhead the dissemination efforts to ensure widespread adoption of the handbook.

The success of the regional training underscores UNICRI's commitment to empowering experts with advanced skills and knowledge to combat proliferation finance effectively. Through collaborative efforts and the development of practical tools, UNICRI aims to enhance the capabilities of stakeholders in detecting and disrupting illicit financial activities, thereby contributing to global efforts towards countering proliferation finance and fostering regional security in Southeast Asia, a region that remains particularly exposed to PF threats stemming from both state and non-state actors.

Strengthening Capacities to Identify and Mitigate CBRN Proliferation Financing Risks in Southeast Asia – Phase I and II: Supported by the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Commonwealth Development Office (FCDO), this project intends to enhance the capabilities of Financial Intelligence Units, financial investigators, Central Banks, and reporting entities to identify, investigate, and disrupt proliferation financing schemes and procurement networks. This initiative also lays the foundation for longer-term engagement, with plans to establish a UN-led global initiative on disrupting proliferation finance.

It is important to note that assistance in this area has thus far been fragmented, and there is a pressing need for a comprehensive global initiative. UNICRI aims to address this gap by developing a programme that can be implemented globally and address critical capacity-building needs.