Trade-based money laundering (TBML) could well be the largest money laundering methodology in the world according to a former intelligence officer and US Treasury Department special agent.

John A Cassara, who is the author of several books, includingTrade-based Money Laundering: The Next Frontier in International Money Laundering Enforcement, also reckons it is also the least understood and monitored method of money laundering.

Trade transparency

Nevertheless, Cassara is optimistic that modern analytic tools to exploit a variety of relevant big data sets can assist in effective anti-TBML strategies.

He also believes that levels of international trade transparency can be substantially raised.

Islamic State

In an article that implies that the so-called Islamic State (IS) may be shifting funds through the conventional as well as the hawalafinancial systems, he suggests that regulations should be introduced that centre on a greater use of cross-border data sharing.

Cassara supposes that support could be particularly provided to countries neighbouring Iraq and Syria to establish trade transparency units that use customs and trade data to spot anomalies that could indicate fraud or money laundering.

This, he says, might help detect illicit IS-related trade transactions.

Details of Cassara’s book, ‘Trade-based Money Laundering: The Next Frontier in International Money Laundering Enforcement can be found here.