Side Event on ''Investigation of Money-Laundering and Terrorist Financing with Cryptocurrencies''

    25 May 2017The UNODC's Global Programme Against Money Laundering, Global Programme against Cybercrime, Global e-learning Programme and CRIMJUST were brought together to share their expertise and knowledge on cryptocurrencies during the 26th Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which was held at the UNODC Headquarters in Vienna.

    The European Union Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment (2017) stated that "Criminals continuously seek out methods and technologies to make their business models more effective and increase profit margins. The anonymous nature of online transactions in these marketplaces, and the use of cryptocurrencies reduces the risk of detection by law enforcement authorities for both vendors and buyers."

    Jointly concerned with the rising threats posed by the use of technology by organized criminal networks, and more specifically the use of cryptocurrencies, over 100 participants joined the side event titled 'Investigation of Money-Laundering and Terrorist Financing with Cryptocurrencies- Can we track criminal cryptocurrencies? Yes, we can!'. With the premise that criminals buy drugs, and other illicit goods on the Darknet and pay with cryptocurrencies, the various UNODC Global Programmes offered their contributions on how to unite forces in fighting the use of technology, which has provided a new modus operandi for criminal organizations.

    Mr. John BRANDOLINO, Director of Division for Treaty Affairs, opened the discussion by welcoming the cooperation of all programs to tackle this rising threat from every angle, from the education and introduction to cryptocurrencies, to the identification, investigation and prosecution of the criminals utilizing them. Mr. Neil WALSH, Senior Programme Manager of the Global Programme against Cybercrime gave a live demonstration of bitcoin investigation and Mr. Oleksiy FESHCHENKO, Programme Officer of the Global Programme Against Money laundering introduced the UNODC train-the-trainers program for bitcoin investigations. As the internet reduces the price for criminals and buyers, it presents a business model which is increasingly adopted by more criminals.

    As Mr. Marco TEIXERIA, Programme Officer of CRIMJUST confirmed, according to the World Drug Report of 2016 "drug users have shown in increase in the purchase of drugs online''. After presenting CRIMJUST approach that includes support to capacity building initiatives regarding investigation of cryptocurrencies in the framework of the Cocaine Route in Africa and Latin America; it was Mr. Nicolas CARUSO, Focal Point of the Global eLearning Programme who presented the eLearning Programme and its role within this topic.

    Synergies between programmes were once again encouraged in the margins of this event, as cooperation remains a key element for ensuring a holistic approach to combat the threats posed by cryptocurrencies. Finding flaws, cracks and mistakes requires knowledge of cryptocurrencies and technology in general, in order to stay one step ahead of criminals.