10. September 2021

African Development Bank staff upskill in cryptocurrencies and anti-money laundering

Bitcoins and a credit card
Like any method for storing and transferring value, cryptocurrencies can be used for illicit purposes including money laundering. Photo by Dmitry Demidko on Unsplash.

The use of virtual assets such as cryptocurrencies has expanded hugely around the world. Thousands of new users are added each day, and more individuals now use cryptocurrencies than trade on stock exchanges. Yet, as with all emerging technologies, there are risks that cryptocurrencies can be used for illegal activity such as money laundering and terrorist financing.

As the Financial Action Task Force has stressed and as we explain in our updated quick guide to cryptocurrencies and money laundering, all financial sector actors and regulators need to better understand how cryptocurrencies work and how can they be abused by criminals.

This is one reason why the African Development Bank (AfDB) recently requested our training team to deliver an intensive online training course on Cryptocurrencies and Anti-Money Laundering to key francophone staff and internal investigators.

About the workshop

The 30 participants included investigators, prosecutors and investigating judges from 16 francophone African countries, as well as a team from the Bank’s Office of Integrity and Anti-Corruption (PIAC).

The four-day workshop combined foundation-building lectures with a simulated money laundering investigation involving cryptocurrencies.

“It was wonderfully supervised, instructive, enriching and demystifying,” 

said one participant. Another echoed a common sentiment in saying that:

Before this training I only knew Bitcoin by name, I had no notion of how it worked…[nor] the traceability of transactions. But thanks to your very educational method, even though I am not yet an expert, I admit that there is a lot that I now know about cryptocurrencies in general and Bitcoin in particular.”

A particular debate arose around Mutual Legal Assistance and how it applies to the tracing and seizure of virtual assets held through a foreign crypto exchange.

Focus was also placed on offshore structures that are often misused by criminals seeking to conceal or launder the proceeds of their illicit activities.

Like the topic of virtual assets itself, the answers to these questions are only just emerging.

More and open course on cryptocurrencies and AML compliance

The above workshop was delivered by our International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR) training team in the context of the Basel Institute’s existing partnership agreement with the AfDB.

In an effort to help stakeholders from all sectors and regions improve their understanding of cryptocurrencies, and their skills at tracing suspect transactions through the blockchain, the training team also offers a course open to registration by individuals, institutions or companies from the public and private sectors.

The next available places are on 22-25 November 2021. Learn more about our Cryptocurrencies and AML Compliance Training.