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Africa's Illegal Wildlife Trade - A new law enforcement newsletter

by Julian Rademeyer -

The is the first edition of a new biannual newsletter published by TRAFFIC, the international wildlife trade monitoring network. 

It provides the latest insights into illegal wildlife trade in Africa and is aimed at the frontline law enforcement responsible for intercepting, investigating and prosecuting the vast array of wildlife being smuggled to global markets. Sections include the major trade routes and ports involved, methods of concealment being used by smugglers, and things look out for when making or investigating seizures.

Non-frontline staff will also find this newsletter helpful in understanding the current role of Africa in the illegal wildlife trade, emerging trends in species involved and links with the drugs trade.

Download the full report here. (Africa IWT Enforcement Newsletter JUNE 2019)

This is our first edition and we want this to be as useful and user-friendly as possible. Please let us know what you think by filling out this very short survey which will help guide our second edition

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Launderers outwit financial intelligence system with invisible transactions

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Launderers outwit financial intelligence system with invisible transactions

The Independent July 2, 2019

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Financial Intelligence Authority (FIA) says it is registering more entities to report cases of money laundering because launderers are now opting for non-traceable transactions.

The authority recently announced that car dealers would be required to register with it, in a move to curb laundering in the business. In addition, the authority is targeting persons involved in trading with crypto-currencies.

The Anti-Money Laundering Act, 2013 mandates the authority to register all accountable persons who are then obliged to submit reports on their transactions, and cases of suspected money laundering and terror financing.

FIA Executive Director Sydney Asubo says trends are changing as more launderers avoid the official banking system which will, in most cases, avoid suspicious funds. Asubo says there is an increase in the number of untraceable money transfer channels, complicating the fight against money laundering.

He cites the Hawala system as one of the channels that are increasingly being used by launders to beat the financial intelligence network.

Hawala is an illegal foreign exchange market where trading of currency happens outside the parallel controlled financial channels.

The Hawala system works with a network of operators through whom, a person willing to transfer money can channel their remittance without going through the formal banking system. A dealer from one country, just contacts a counterpart from the receiving end, to hand over cash to the intended recipient.

The system is done via informal agreements with no requirements to go through the banks or even cross borders as long as the two parties can be trusted.  Asubo says that hundreds of sales agreements are concluded every day without using the conventional banks, a move that requires that the financial intelligence network also revisits its approach.

Asubo also says there are lapses in checks in money laundering as some of them do not have the facilities to detect cases.

Meanwhile, Asubo says they are currently working on a framework to regulate cryptocurrencies in Uganda. He says the framework will allow the entity to capture the details of the cryptocurrency dealers, understanding them and asking them to register. He says their beginning point is to get to know individuals dealing with cryptocurrency.

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ARINSA Members sign the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Strengthening Asset Forfeiture for Development

by Kudzai Chinoda -

ARINSA Members sign the Dar es Salaam Declaration on Strengthening Asset Forfeiture for Development

Dar es Salaam, 12 June 2019-- Assets, including minerals worth $ 41 million USD, determined to be proceeds of crime were confiscated and nationalized by the Government of Tanzania in 2018 according to the Vice-President, Samia Suluhu Hassan, while delivering a keynote address on behalf of President John Magufuli, at the launch of the 10th ARINSA Anniversary and Annual General Meeting. The VP was speaking at the official opening, which was held at the Julius Nyerere International Convention Centre in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

The event was attended by more than 300 delegates from the 16 ARINSA member countries and other agents representing various stakeholders in the asset forfeiture field.

“ARINSA is a catalyst to Tanzania’s efforts in combating crime and ensuring that criminals do not benefit in any capacity from their crime. Today’s anniversary marks a historical event as it symbolizes our continued cooperation within the Southern African region, which was initiated by the founders of our States during our independence struggles.” She remarked.

She further called upon ARINSA member country leaders to enact legislation that sets aside 2 - 3% of recovered proceeds to go towards supporting efforts of law enforcement agencies and the operations of ARINSA.   

The ARINSA President, Mr Biswalo Mganga (Director of Public Prosecutions -Tanzania), told the meeting that a total number of 416 restraint and preservations orders, and 142 confiscation orders had been reported by member countries since 2009.   This has resulted in the recovery of assets worth $1.4bn USD since the launch of the network.  In her speech, Advocate Imalwa, the Prosecutor General of Namibia, highlighted the need to ensure that the wealth of resources in African nations must be used for the benefit of Africans who have remained poor despite all the resources they have. It is through initiatives such as ARINSA that this continent can be financially independent. 

The culmination of the event was marked by the heads of delegations of ARINSA member countries that were present, signing the “Dar es Salaam Declaration on Strengthening Asset Forfeiture for Development”, a commitment by member countries to ensure that the asset forfeiture framework is fully supported and functional. In light of the meeting, the VP also launched several ARINSA publications, which included the ARINSA Annual Report, a Case digest on Money laundering and Proceeds of Crime, and the ARINSA Strategic Plan 2018 – 2022, among others.

The launch was followed by 2 days of deliberations and presentations by member country representatives and ARINSA stakeholders on issues of money laundering and proceeds of crime.  At the meeting it was evident that ARINSA continues to strengthen professionalism in the asset forfeiture, anti-money laundering, wildlife crime, cyber-crime and counter-terrorism financing regimes.  

Country discussions revealed that most member states have taken great strides in establishing and amending AML legislation, setting up Asset Recovery Units, tracing cases pertaining to property, money, drugs and wildlife and returning the proceeds of crime to the Country of origin and using the proceeds to benefit the respective communities.

ARINSA has benefitted countries through trainings, mentorship, awareness raising materials – building of brand ambassadors, sharing information and coordination with other law enforcement agencies.

At the meeting, the following were highlighted as necessary technical assistance and training needed to further build capacity within the countries: continued mentorship, continuing the Prosecutor Placement Programme, following the proceeds from wildlife crime, financial investigation, Cyber Crime, asset management and legislation amendments.

The ARINSA steering committee presented the plan of action for the next year through to the end of June 2020, which included raising the ARINSA profile at the African Prosecutors Association, an Enhanced Case Digest project, developing mentorship capacity, launch of an investigator placement program, asset management capacity building, submission of an ARINSA self-funding proposal to SADC heads of States.

Electronic copies of the books and the Declaration Statement are available under the ARINSA Community section of this platform.

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Former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba is seeking €68.8 million (US$ 77.7 million) in compensation for alleged mismanagement of his assets by the ICC.

by Jill Thomas -

"FROM THE TRIAL of JEAN-PIERRE BEMBA GOMBO - article published April 2019

Former Congolese vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba is seeking €68.8 million (US$ 77.7 million) in compensation from the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his 10-year detention and alleged mismanagement of his assets by the court’s Registry. 

The defense alleges that the court acted negligently in seizing and freezing Bemba’s properties without properly managing them. It contends that Bemba would have had a valid claim even if he had been convicted in the criminal trial. 

Following an ICC request, in May 2008 Bemba’s bank accounts in Congo, Portugal, Belgium, and an unnamed country were frozen. Bank accounts in Belgium and Portugal in his wife’s name were frozen too. A family home in Brussels, various properties and parcels of land in Congo, and a villa and a boat in Portugal were also seized. 

The defense says additional property was seized, apparently without judicial order. It included two villas, three motor vehicles, and a Boeing 727-100 aircraft at Faro airport in Portugal; a river cruiser, six aircraft, and several vehicles in Congo. 

According to the defense, at the time of Bemba’s arrest, his Portuguese bank was settling invoices for the Boeing’s monthly parking and maintenance fee of €1,527. Once the account was frozen, the bank was unable to pay, and when Bemba requested in December 2010 to be given back the aircraft’s keys and documentation to lease it out, the ICC Registry responded in May 2011 that the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) “had been unable to identify the key of the plane and thus it could not be handed over.” 

Haynes said the OTP returned the keys in September 2018 following Bemba’s acquittal. By then, the plane had incurred a debt of €981,954 and is “now scrap.” Haynes said if the prosecution had handed over the keys earlier, the plane could have been moved to a location with lower or no fees, or it could have been sold to a buyer who offered €1 million"

Read the full report in the attached press release.

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Ex-Zimbabwe mayor arrested with 120kg of ivory

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Ex-Zimbabwe mayor arrested with 120kg of ivory

Author: AFP | Update: 11.03.2019 00:00

A former mayor of Zimbabwe's tourist hotspot Victoria Falls was caught with nine elephant tusks weighing 120 kilograms (264 pounds) and arrested with two other suspects, police said Friday.

A former mayor of Zimbabwe's tourist hotspot Victoria Falls was caught with nine elephant tusks weighing 120 kilograms (264 pounds) and arrested with two other suspects, police said Friday.

Sifiso Mpofu, 42, was elected mayor in 2013, serving until July last year when he lost to an opposition candidate.

He was arrested on Thursday night at his house in Mkhosana township, police said.

Acting on a tip-off, police and rangers swopped on the former mayor's house and found him and the two other suspects moving the tusks from a car, they said.

Two other tusks were found in a bedroom during a search of the house.

"Information was received that the accused were in possession of raw ivory," according to a police document seen by AFP.

Mpofu -- who is the younger brother of the country's former home affairs minister Obert Mpofu -- has been charged with illegal possession of elephant ivory.

He is expected to appear in court along with his two fellow suspects before the end of the weekend.

Following his election defeat last year he retreated to his game farm, Sifiso Hunting Safaris, which is situated between Victoria Falls and Hwange National Partk, the country's largest game reserve.

The arrest comes two months after seven Chinese nationals were arrested for money laundering and unlawful possession of rhino horn on December 23.

They were caught with more than 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of rhino horn pieces worth nearly $1 million.

The seven, aged between 23 and 35, are in custody and will return to the Hwange regional court next week.

Elephant tusks are highly coveted in some Asian countries, including China and Vietnam, where they are used for jewellery and ornamentation.

The demand has fuelled a boom in poaching and trafficking in Africa. The continent's elephant population has fallen by 110,000 over the past decade to just 415,000 animals, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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Management of Recovered Illicitly Obtained Assets Workshop

by Kudzai Chinoda -

25 - 27 March 2019, Cape Town, South Africa - In 2018, ARINSA countries reported preservation orders in the amount of US $529,437,092.15. The ability to restrain, seize and/or attach illicitly obtained assets is a vital part of making asset recovery work effective. Without the power to keep assets safe from depreciation, theft or consumption, it is very likely that the assets will be worthless or non-existent before the final judgement is passed.  

This was the theme of the asset management workshop, which brought 30 (including 10 female) participants together from 15 ARINSA Member States in Cape Town, South Africa from 25 - 27 March 2019. A wide range of practitioners were in attendance representing law enforcement agencies such as tax revenue authorities, police, financial intelligence units, and the attorney general offices of their respective countries.

The 3-day workshop, which was organised by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, was sponsored by the Department for International Development in the United Kingdom through the Countering Illicit Financial Flows in Africa programme, in order to guide the managers in the establishment of a first-ever asset management manual for the Southern and Eastern African regions.

The importance of interagency cooperation was stressed by participants as management of assets involves three main stages: acquisition, management and disposal. These are carried out by several stakeholders which need to be coordinated by the assigned asset management agency.  

Working in assigned groups, the facilitators guided the participants to draft generic asset management manuals based on best practice and relevance to the ARINSA region.

The workshop agreed that the next steps to be taken in the Asset Management development process would be:

  • Consolidating the five generic manuals that came out of the workshop into a three-chapter asset management manual for the ARINSA region;
  • Using the manual as a guide, countries will then work on updating existing legislation;
  • Countries will then identify suitable candidates to act as dedicated asset managers;
  • A follow-up workshop for the dedicated asset managers will be held to solidify asset management principles in the region;
  • Upon request, countries needing technical support will be assisted.

The materials from the workshop can be found on the following link. 

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Cybercrime Training for Prosecutors and Investigators

by Kudzai Chinoda -

Cybercrime Training for Prosecutors and Investigators

Electronic evidence is often thrown out of the courts by the judiciary due to lack of permissibility and attribution (the linking of a digital action to a person), yet on average an internet user leaves a footprint in at least 30 places on devices, networks and the internet” the workshop was told. Anecdotal evidence suggests that damage caused by cybercrime worldwide is getting to 6 trillion a year. Most companies are affected by cybercrime yearly, but they do not report to authorities for fear of reputational damage.

15 ARINSA countries attended this cybercrime workshop which was held in Windhoek, Namibia from 18 – 20 February 2019. The countries included, Botswana, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Swaziland, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. 34 participants (14 female) represented their countries’ cybercrime investigation divisions.  Despite the advances in technology, the cybercrime legislation has not been updated in line with these advancements. In addition to that, only half of the countries in attendance indicated that they had cybercrime legislation.

ABCs for investigating cybercrime - Assume nothing – Believe nobody – Check everything’ was the theme echoed throughout the workshop as participants dealt with different case scenarios presented to them for group work and discussions.

Participants gained various skills ranging from management to operations when dealing with cybercrime. Some of the skills learnt were on how to browse the internet safely using tools such as password keepers, Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and many other various free online network tools which assist in reducing the digital shadow (i.e. the digital footprint left on the internet that you will never get to know of and cannot control).

Over the course of the three days participants who were mostly managers in their divisions, looked at various topics which included:

-          Introduction to cybercrime

-          How we communicate digitally

-          Cybercrime investigation techniques (cybercrime first responder)

-          Digital forensics

-          Open source investigations

-          Covert Online Investigations

-          Cryptocurrencies

-          Cybercrime Investigation team and resources

-          Managing risk in Cybercrime Investigations

Some recommendation which came out of the workshop included that;

-          The participants from the workshop should form an informal WhatsApp group for sharing and exchanging Cybercrime information

-          The managers must come up with policy documents in the country, on investigation of cyber crime

-          Upon arrival in country, the managers are supposed to identify suitable candidates who are to undergo a train-the-trainers course to be held later in the year.

-          Countries who are Drafting legislation on cybercrime should make use of existing legislation from other countries that already have.


Below is the link to the materials that came out of the workshop.

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UNODC and INL Launch a Guidebook for Game Rangers to help “Follow the Money Chain”

by Kudzai Chinoda -

UNODC and INL Launch a Guidebook for Game Rangers

Pretoria, 20 September 2018 – A Guidebook that will help improve the quality of evidence available to financial investigators in wildlife crime incidences was launched today by the Secretariat of the Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network – Southern Africa (ARINSA).

The manual produced by UNODC with the help of INL, aims to have the wildlife officers who respond to incidences of wildlife crime, know what to look for in order to follow the money chain driving wildlife crime.

“Intelligence and financial investigations are the only way to solve wildlife crimes. Following the money and not just catching the poachers, will stop wildlife crime,” said Mr JP Willemse from the ARINSA Secretariat. “Training the Rangers to ask the right questions will solve the crimes,” he added.

Law enforcement agents, prosecutors, rangers, financial investigators, wildlife crime experts and conservation managers from 14 countries in Southern and Eastern Africa gathered together to witness this event.

Often crime bosses at the top of the chain, go untouched and continue to cause damage while the “poachers” at the bottom of the chain are arrested. This Guidebook enables the First Responders to identify and preserve evidence that can be used by financial investigators to trace the money trail.

The Guidebook comes at a time when environmental issues are high on the agenda with the depletion of abalone and rhino populations in the Southern African region.

High on the agenda was the setting up of a regional training needs in the Southern and Eastern African countries. Delegates then put their heads together to come up with a regional strategy to integrate these training needs into draft country implementation plans to combat wildlife crime.

The delegates noted that the time to focus on the money behind wildlife crime was long overdue. This Guidebook, the first of its kind, will help to provide a solid foundation for financial investigations into the most important driver of wildlife crime through a process of “following the money chain”. By taking away their profits and unlawful assets, the crime syndicates will be hit where it hurts them most – in their pockets.

To download the guide please follow the link below. 


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ARINSA contact points hold retreat focusing on asset management and various aspects of seizing assets and following the proceeds of crime

by Kudzai Chinoda -

ARINSA contact points hold retreat focusing on asset management and various aspects of seizing assets and  following the proceeds of crime.

On 20 - 24 January 2019, ARINSA contact points from all the 16 Member countries converged in Cape Town (South Africa) for a retreat. The retreat provided an opportunity for private exchanges among practitioners on topics related to the personal and corporate branding of ARINSA, the overall functioning of the ARINSA network and asset management. Topics discussed included branding and ethics, the planning and preparation phase before the execution of freezing orders the modalities of data collection and reporting, the sustainability of the network and development of asset management manuals.

During the retreat, one of the facilitators Mr Praveen Naidoo, emphasised the importance of cultivating a culture of integrity: "We as ARINSA member countries are in a vulnerable state as there is a perception that our public officials have been compromised. We are here to make a difference and cannot be confined to our individual countries, because we are operating in a global village. Our role is to break the cycle. The role to drive the ARINSA mandate is key”.  The Southern and Eastern African region stands to benefit tremendously from a committed and dedicated network of ARINSA members who are open, respectful, dignified and involve a multi-disciplinary and inclusive approach to following the proceeds of crime. High on the agenda was the need for members to cultivate a cohesive and constructive environment marked by the highest degree of dignity and respect for one another, encouraging to share their diverse expertise, experience and professional backgrounds to the benefit of the region and the world at large. 

Participants exchanged ideas on ARINSA’s sustainability beyond 2020 and the themes for the upcoming Annual General Meeting to be held in June 2019 in Tanzania.  Each country shared at least one challenge and how it affected the data collection process. Additionally, the participants shared how the identified challenges were addressed or suggested recommendations were made. 

Round-table discussion were held on best practises in asset seizure and asset management. The discussions ended with participants drafting an asset management manual which will be launched at this year’s Annual General Meeting in Tanzania.

Please visit the photos from the gallery 2019. 

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International Partnerships on Asset Recovery

by Kudzai Chinoda -

International Partnerships on Asset Recovery

Overview and Global Directory of Networks

By helping countries to establish systems to obtain information on the source, destination and ultimate beneficiary of proceeds of crime and corruption, asset recovery networks aim to help asset recovery specialists around the world to fight against corruption and
money laundering.

This directory first examines possible strategies for international cooperation and the distinction between formal mutual legal assistance (MLA) requests and informal assistance. Second, the directory lists the asset recovery networks, along with information about their structure and operations, to help asset recovery specialists access the appropriate networks and cooperate on their crucial efforts to pursue the forfeiture of criminal proceeds.

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