19. May 2020

Virtually investigating virtual currencies in East Africa: ICAR’s cryptocurrency workshop goes online

Cryptocurrency online training course

Law enforcement officers from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Djibouti, Tanzania and South Sudan last week worked together to solve a simulated investigation aimed at confiscating “laundered” cryptocurrency – entirely online.

The investigation was the centrepiece of a Cryptocurrencies and Money Laundering online workshop led by the training team of our International Centre for Asset Recovery in collaboration with German development agency GIZ. The workshop is an adapted version of the onsite training programme on Money Laundering Using Bitcoin, which has seen a huge increase in demand as cryptocurrencies become a go-to tool for laundering the proceeds of corruption and other crime.

Over four days, the 12 hours of instructor-led learning took the participants from the basics of cryptocurrencies to more sophisticated investigative techniques like blockchain analysis. Participants agreed on the value of understanding virtual assets and declared they would implement it in their daily work right away. It was an “eye-opener”, said one participant.

ICAR training shifts online, surpassing expectations

Also eye-opening is how smoothly and effectively this first intensive online workshop by ICAR’s training team turned out to be.

Designed to be delivered in person, ICAR’s tailored training programmes are hands-on and heavily based on interactive group tasks. These onsite workshops include a complex simulated investigation undertaken simultaneously by small teams.

The approach is aimed at helping participants from different disciplines and agencies learn not only new skills but also how to work together better in real life. This is extremely difficult to replicate in the online space, especially in contexts with less-than-perfect IT equipment and connectivity.

This is why we believe that virtual training workshops will never match the buzz of a room of investigators, prosecutors and financial analysts working and learning together around real tables. Nevertheless, the online delivery was a success thanks largely to the engagement of the participants, who adapted well to the online space.

Thanks also go to the Basel Institute’s IT team for their fast work in setting up an online learning platform designed to meet the needs of both trainers and trainees in the contexts in which we work. The design draws heavily on the initial experiences of our ICAR field experts, who have been providing short courses and mentoring to members of their partner institutions since the start of the pandemic lockdowns.

We have open minds to the great potential value of virtual training both during and after the pandemic situation and are working on adapting some of our other onsite training workshop for online delivery.

If you have experiences or suggestions to share in this regard, do contact us via the ICAR Twitter account @StolenAssets, on LinkedIn or to our training team.

Find out more

  • Read more about ICAR’s unique training concept in this quick guide to effective training in financial investigations by our Head of Training ICAR, Phyllis Atkinson.
  • ICAR training programmes are developed and delivered to government authorities at the request of partner countries. If you are an individual looking to develop your skills in asset recovery and financial investigation, feel free to take one of our eLearning courses.
  • In collaboration with Swiss law firm MME, we offer a FinTech AML Compliance Training workshop aimed at helping FinTech, RegTech and compliance professionals detect and prevent the use of cryptocurrencies for illicit activities.
  • Learn how our Peru team developed a successful virtual course on public financial management for 770+ officials across Peru and their creative solutions to issues with internet and computer access.