Oval Dialogue on Best Practices Against Money Laundering

18th Mar 2015
OverviewLead DiscussantsProgramme Agenda

Money laundering has emerged as an extremely complex legal and investigative challenge for the law enforcement agencies across the globe in recent times. Given the emergence of organized crime syndicates and terrorist outfits, the need to tackle the proceeds and funding routes of such activities has never been as pronounced as it is today.  The processes involved in laundering of ill gotten proceeds appear to be innocuous, however the culmination of these processes creates a web of transactions, which assist in putting a veil on the illicit activities that have generated these revenues and the illicit activities that receive financial support through such mechanisms.

Perhaps the major obstacle in conducting any money laundering activity successfully is the existence of financial havens and banking secrecy norms, which shield such activities from any investigative and evidentiary risks.  The issue is further amplified by the fact that with the advent of Internet, a number of virtual banks have sprung up creating a regulatory and jurisdictional nightmare for any enforcement authority.  A glaring example of the complexity of this issue is evidenced by operation of the European Union Bank. The European Union Bank was founded by two Russians with the objective of harbouring the illicit proceeds of the Russian organized crime syndicate.  The bank operated in the virtual space and claimed to offer its clients the strictest standards in banking secrecy and financial rewards related to offshore banking.  The nefariousness of its operation was revealed by the fact that it operated under a license from the Government of Antigua but had its computer server in Washington DC and the person operating both the server and the bank was in Canada.  Moreover Antiguan Law did not criminalize the theft of bank’s asset. Thus, as observed by Michael Levi et al., questions relating to; where was the crime committed? Who committed the crime? Who is going to investigate it and whether the accused can be arrested? –Fall within the grey area of law and policy and prima facie appear to be non-navigable. Nevertheless, investigative agencies with the support of the legal and regulatory ecosystem have had some measure of success in recovering and seizing such assets.  It is believed that law enforcement initiatives are able to recover $ 100-500 million in a good year. However, when this is juxtaposed with the money laundered by the international drug trafficking syndicate, which is to the tune of a staggering minimum of  $ 200 billion a year, it reflects the depth of the gaping hole in our international legal and regulatory framework.  It may be readily argued that our investigative intelligence may not be sufficient in addressing the issue and that there is aburgeoning need for greater synergy between varied disciplines such as data science, law, criminology and finance.

Oval Observer Foundation is delighted to convene a Dialogue on Best Practices Against Money Laundering. The Dialogue will serve as a platform for money laundering experts from the finance, legal and law enforcement sectors to share ideas and stories with the objective of evaluating howinvestigations and asset recovery mechanisms can be consolidated to tackle the scourge of money laundering and assist in recovering proceeds of illicit/corrupt activities.

Key Topics of the Dialogue will include:

  • Money Laundering & Financing of Terrorism
  • International legal and regulatory response to combat money laundering/proceeds of corruption
  • Bank secrecy norms & investigative obstacles
  • Can Big Data help in tracking proceeds of illicit activities?
  • Ethical banking practices, which may prevent laundering of ill-gotten money.


Coming Soon
Coming Soon

Oval Podcast Episode.1: Money Laundering & Hawala

11th Dec 2014

Money Laundering and financing of terrorism has assumed centre stage in the global security scenario given the burgeoning rise of terrorist outfits across the world. The inaugural edition of the Foundation’s podcast covers the issue of money laundering with a focus on financing of terrorism. In particular, the podcast explores the most nefarious alternative remittance system, Hawala, which has emerged as the preferred option for organized crime syndicates and terrorist organization for conducting cross border transactions. Rachit Ranjan and Shreyas Tirunagari from the Foundation explain about the emergence of Hawala and discuss case studies, which highlights how the system is used for funding illicit activities.

The Podcast also discusses the challenges that investigative authorities face during the asset recovery and identification process given the minimal paper trail that such transactions create. Further, FATF typologies and reports also suggest many tax havens such as Cayman Islands are home to monies derived from illicit activities and may be routed onward for funding other terrorist and disruptive activities.  The concluding remarks focus on the methods through which a country plagued by terrorism such as India, can tackle this scourge and thwart the outflow of black money from the country.


*Fai-Chen was a system of remittance prevalent in ancient China not Japan

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