FOLLOW THE MONEY 5 th Annual General Meeting 2016

The UN General Assembly, at its Thirteenth Special Session devoted to the World Drug Problem, highlighted the need "to strengthen and utilize existing and relevant regional, as appropriate, sub-regional and international networks for the exchange of the operational information to prevent and counter money-laundering, illicit financial flows and terrorist financing" (the UN GA resolution A/RES/S-30/1 adopted on 19 April 2016).

The UNODC organized the 5 th Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network for Southern Africa (ARINSA)  Annual General Meeting (AGM) which brought together practitioners of 18 countries from Central, Eastern and Southern Africa. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Asset Recovery Inter-Network Agency for West Africa's (ARINWA).  

Illegal drug and wildlife trafficking remain cash cows, where the potential of making enormous profits drives the intention of new and existing offenders to pursue this criminal activity. It can therefore be said that an effective response from both law enforcement authorities and criminal justice systems are necessary, as well as their cooperation to counter money laundering and trace criminal proceeds. This was the main subject matter for the Annual General Meeting of ARINSA, held between 7 th and 8 th June 2016 in Pretoria, South Africa.

A recent report by Europol's Asset Recovery Unit (produced in conjunction with the Asset Recovery Offices of EU Member States) also indicates that between 2010 and 2014, only 2.2% of estimated criminal proceeds were provisionally seized or frozen, and a mere 1.1% of criminal profits were eventually confiscated. This information highlights the need for greater action, as only a small proportion of estimated criminal proceeds are currently being recovered in the EU.  

The presentations given at the 5th Annual General Meeting highlighted that Southern African's dilemma mirrors that of EU, where many offenders are left enjoying their criminal proceeds due to the unfamiliar concept of asset forfeiture to some jurisdictions in the region.

Significant improvements to cross-border cooperation made by law enforcement agencies to trace and identify criminal assets have however yielded tangible results. In the last year, more than 150 asset recovery investigations have been carried out, and assets worth over $16.8m have either been confiscated or frozen in Southern Africa.

The AGM recommended that each country develops an asset recovery strategy to tackle criminal proceeds, where country-specific strategies could be synthesized into a regional strategy. On an ending note, Mr Mpho Letsoalo, the Botswana representative, was elected President of ARINSA for the next 2 years.


Summary of accomplishments from 2015.

Challenges in the region:

  • There are a few judges who have been trained on the adjudication of money laundering and asset recovery cases in the region.
  • There is notable increase in wildlife crime in the region with particular reference to rhino poaching, where 1342 rhinos were killed for their horns in 2015 when compared to 262 in 2008.
  • Lack of strategy in dealing with money laundering and asset recovery in the region is troubling.
  • Raising awareness on money laundering and asset recovery is a predicament in the region
  • A lack of asset and case management systems for oversight and management of money laundering and asset recovery cases is a great dilemma.