Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley will inaugurate the three-day international conference on ‘Networking the Networks’ in the national capital today.
The proposal to hold the ‘Networking the Networks’ meeting in India was agreed during the last visit of the Executive Director, UNODC, to India on December 3, 2014, and his meeting with the Revenue Secretary.
Subsequently, the Executive Director, UNODC, also met Arun Jaitley and expressed his sincere appreciation for concurring to hold this international conference in India. He has also reaffirmed UNODC’s readiness to further extend support to India and the region in countering trans-national organized crime and promoting drug prevention, treatment and care among vulnerable population groups. He has suggested that this could start with India hosting a “Networking the Networks” event on illicit money flows involving financial intelligence units from the region and beyond, as well as, the establishment of a regional coordination mechanism for intelligence sharing in criminal matters.
This conference is relevant in the context that the South Asia region is vulnerable to the illicit financial flows from drugs, human trafficking, tax fraud etc. Informal money transfer systems are also popular in the world and can be easily misused by the criminal networks for the transfer of crime proceeds, as well as for terrorism financing.
One of the ways to effectively combat the criminal networks is to disrupt their financial flows. But the criminal networks are of transnational nature and money movements are executed very fast. So to combat these criminal networks and their illicit financial flows, law enforcement agencies need fast operational cooperation with their foreign partners, and capacities to deal with the financial crimes.
There are different regional organizations for law enforcement cooperation – e.g. Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center (CARICC), Southeast European Law Enforcement Center (SELEC) etc. But their capacities are not fully utilized for tracing of illicit financial flows and for the law enforcement – financial intelligence cooperation.
UNODC recent initiative “Networking the Networks” (especially its component on illicit financial flows) targets these two goals: connect the existing international and regional law enforcement cooperation centres to enable fast inter-regional cooperation; use the capacities of these networks to disrupt organized crime and the illicit financial flows related to it through the exchange of intelligence and providing platform for coordination of joint/parallel operations
The meeting will bring together law enforcement senior officials, as well as representatives of the existing global networks and successful regional networks from other regions, who can share their experience on combating illicit financial flows.
The meeting will help to identify the best practices of the existing international organizations and regional platforms for fast cooperation on illicit financial flows and capacity building. These practices will cover a wide range of issues: organization and set-up of regional networks, connection between various networks, new methodologies to disrupt illicit financial flows, capacity building, use of IT tools, international and interagency cooperation.
Participants will also produce recommendations on best practices and solutions which can be applied to the nascent South Asia Regional Information and Coordination Center (SARICC)
The proposal for creation of regional platform for exchange of information/ intelligence on drug trafficking and related matters such as money laundering etc., with India in the lead, for the South Asian region was discussed during the visit of Executive Director of UNODC in . This platform would initially comprise the founding members Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, Maldives, Nepal and Sri Lanka besides India, and later on would be open to inclusion of other countries/ international organization as decided by the founding members, based on shared concerns.
Because of its geographical position – sandwiched between two of the major illicit opium and heroin producing regions of the world (Afghanistan to our North West and Myanmar to our East), India has been a victim of drug trafficking originating in these countries for several years. This is impacting the health and moral fiber of the society, besides leading to generation of black money and providing fillip to other criminal activities.
Therefore, creation of a regional cooperation mechanism among countries of the region, which have shared interest in curbing drug trafficking in this region, is in India’s interest. Further, the international community has high expectations of India’s leadership role in this regard in the region.
During the recent visit of the Executive Director of the UNODC to India, he expressed the expectation that India should emerge as the leading player in the area of anti-drug trafficking and other related transnational organized crimes, not only in this region but also beyond especially in view of the fact of increase in illicit poppy cultivation in Afghanistan and Myanmar and manufacture of synthetic drugs in Myanmar. He was accordingly keen to have discussions at the strategic level in India as regards the initiatives which India could take in this matter.