Combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism
Criminal activities such as trafficking in human beings, drugs, small arms and light weapons, as well as smuggling, counterfeiting or credit card fraud, generate huge illegal profits.
Laundering illegal proceeds allows perpetrators, who are frequently part of organised criminal groups, to distance themselves from their crimes, impeding prosecution. By separating financial profits from criminal activity, funds can be re-invested into other illegal activities or even legitimate businesses. Illegal proceeds are also often used to finance terrorist activities.
The role of the OSCE
OSCE Participating States have repeatedly emphasized that money laundering is a threat to security and reaffirmed their commitment to combat the problem. Based on OSCE Ministerial and Permanent Council decisions, the OSCE has intensified its efforts to combat both money laundering and the financing of terrorism over the past few years.
The Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) began to assist OSCE participating States in strengthening their ability to suppress terrorist financing and money laundering in 2002, following the Bucharest Ministerial Council Decision No. 1 on Combating Terrorism and the Programme of Action endorsed at the Bishkek International Conference in December 2001.
Working closely with the Global Programme against Money Laundering of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the World Bank, the IMF, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and other partners, the OCEEA has developed a range of activities to help combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.
At the request of OSCE participating States, these activities aim to assess national legislation, advise on improving the legal framework and build national capacity. For example, the OCEEA is helping to create and strengthen national institutions, such as financial intelligence units (FIUs).
Activities aimed at creating national capacity have so far taken place in Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Romania, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
Promoting regional co-operation
The OSCE is actively fostering regional co-operation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. Over the last few years, a number of regional activities were organised in co-operation with UNODC for financial sector supervisors, prosecutors and judges.
In December 2006, the OSCE was admitted as an observer to the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism (EAG) at the fifth EAG Plenary Meeting in Moscow. The EAG co-operates closely with the OSCE, the IMF, the World Bank, UNODC and other partners to combat these threats in OSCE participating States that are members of the EAG (Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan).
The OSCE as an observer to the Council of Europe's MONEYVAL Committee
In October 2008, the OSCE was admitted as an observer to the Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures (MONEYVAL). The OSCE co-operates closely with the Council of Europe in the area of combating money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as other areas.
Combating the abuse of non-profit organizations
In co-operation with other OSCE units and institutions, such as the OSCE Action against Terrorism Unit, the OCEEA promotes international best practices on combating the abuse of non-profit organisations in the OSCE area.
The OSCE supports the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR)
The OSCE supports and closely co-operates with the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR) of the World Bank and UNODC. The initiative focuses on the non-conviction based asset forfeiture of stolen or otherwise criminally acquired assets with the aim of returning them to their rightful owners, for example states, so they can be used for social programmes and infrastructure investment.