Fighting Trade-Based Money Laundering

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December 31 2015

John Cassara, a former U.S. intelligence officer and Treasury Department special agent,published a book last month about trade-based money laundering. In an interview he discusses the issue, how to fight it and what it would take to achieve trade transparency. The interview was condensed and lightly edited for clarity.

Trade-based money laundering received a lot more attention in 2015 than in years past. Your book’s title identifies it as “the next frontier in money-laundering enforcement.” Why, and what does it portend for 2016?

Mr. Cassara: It’s the next frontier for anti-money laundering enforcement because the U.S. and international community have spent time and resources developing countermeasures against the other money laundering methods identified by the Financial Action Task Force. The FATF identifies three types of money laundering in the world: First is through financial institutions, second is bulk-cash smuggling and the third is trade-based money laundering. That’s what we’ve spent the least amount to combat.