Mark Pieth, Professor Emeritus at the University of Basel and President of the Board of the Basel Institute on Governance, offers an insight into the topic behind his latest book, Gold Laundering.

What is gold laundering?

On its way from the ground to your wedding ring or mobile phone, gold passes through a chain of transactions and transformations. It is traded, collated, processed, shipped or smuggled across borders – all multiple times by different actors - and then refined.

“Follow the money!” Everyone’s talking about it, especially in relation to corruption, fraud and organised crime.

What does “following money” actually mean in this context? How do we do it in practice? And what are some of the wider possibilities?

Tracking down high-level criminals and their networks

“Follow the money” is a snappy way to say: investigate financial transactions and use them to extract information or evidence about a crime, suspect or criminal network.

This quick guide draws on a more comprehensive blog by Claudia Baez Camargo published on the website of the Global Integrity Anti-Corruption Evidence (GI-ACE) research programme.

Find more details on the GI-ACE anti-corruption research projects led by Dr Baez Camargo’s team at the Basel Institute on Governance, as well as other pioneering research on social norms and implications for anti-corruption practice, at the end of this guide.

The International Expert Meeting on the return of stolen assets in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa in May 2019, which I attended as a representative of the Basel Institute’s International Centre for Asset Recovery (ICAR), focused heavily on the importance of international cooperation and lessons learnt over the past years.

Someone once said that the more knowledge is freely shared, the more it grows. Our free eLearning courses on asset tracing, intelligence gathering and financial analysis exemplify this idea.

Here are some of the benefits of online courses for financial investigators, analysts and others who need to acquire and practise these complex skills.

Practically every country has a Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and it plays a vital role in combating money laundering and other financial crimes. Yet there is often confusion – even among anti-corruption authorities – about how it works, what it can and can’t do, and what value it brings. Here is a very quick overview.

A vital buffer role

One major role of an FIU is to help filter out potentially illegal financial transactions that should be further investigated by the police or other competent law enforcement authority.

Sophisticated and complex financial crimes span the globe. “Following the trail of the money” can involve many jurisdictions, each with their own laws and practices, and varying capacity or willingness to cooperate internationally.

Fighting corruption and money laundering, and recovering criminal proceeds, are therefore complex challenges. Specialised legal, financial accounting, analytical and investigation skills are essential.