Money Laundering Through the Physical Transportation of Cash

Money Laundering Through the Physical Transportation of Cash

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This joint FATF / Middle East & North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) report highlights that cash remains an important means of payment across the globe, with an estimated USD 4 trillion in various currencies in circulation. This, despite the availability of a range of non-cash payment methods and the continuous development of new and innovate alternatives for cashless payments.

Cash is also still widely used in the criminal economy.  The physical transportation of cash across an international border is one of the oldest forms of money laundering and still widely used today. Criminals often choose to remove their illicit assets from their bank account in order to break the audit trail by transporting it to another country to spend it or reintroduce it into the banking system.

This report analysed input provided by over 60 countries to identify methods and techniques that criminals use to transport funds across the border.  The report contains a number of real case studies to illustrate these techniques, ranging from the transportation of large quantities in low denominations by cargo or mail, to the transportation of smaller quantities of cash, but often in high-denomination notes in or on a person.  

The report identifies the main challenges that law enforcement, customs and other agencies face to detect and disrupt the physical transportation of cash.

It provides red flags indicators and other information for use by all agencies, who need to work together and exchange information to control their borders.  These indicators can indicate possible cases of cash transportation and contribute to profiling and further investigation.