... and, in 2003, National Legislative Actions Addressing Money Laundering

By Arlacchi, Pino | UN Chronicle, Summer 1998 | Go to article overview
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... and, in 2003, National Legislative Actions Addressing Money Laundering


Arlacchi, Pino, UN Chronicle


I have traveled from Bogota to Bonn and many points in between over the past year. I've discussed drug control issues with Presidents and senior government officials, but I also went out into the field. I talked to peasant farmers, local leaders and the people who are working to eliminate the supply and demand on the frontlines. Almost universally, people are convinced that the time is coming when illegal drugs are going to be very hard to find.

On a trip in February, I was struck by how effective the national alternative plans are already working in the Andean region. Statistics once again tell the story. UNDCP estimates that in Peru in 1990 over 200 thousand hectares were under coca cultivation. Seven years later, it's les than 70 thousand hectares. Only ten years ago in Bolivia, 41,000 hectares were cultivated with the coca plant. Today, the amount of land under coca cultivation has dropped by almost 20 per cent.

Transnational organized crime has become a major force in world finance. We can talk about globalization, new technology and the information age, but the fact is there are more opportunities than ever before for drug traffickers to make their "dirty" money "clean". The situation is changing overnight as methods of money laundering become even more sophisticated.

The International Monetary Fund estimates that 2 to 5 per cent of the global gross domestic product comes from laundered money. According to UNDCP, this represents between $300 billion and $400 billion annually, or approximately 8 per cent of total international trade. At a time when trade barriers all over the world are coming down, money laundering undermines the smooth functioning of markets and has a negative impact on economic growth.

It has been ten years since the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances, which addressed money laundering as an international problem for the first time. Today, an estimated 70 per cent of all Member States still do not have proper legislation to remedy this obstacle to criminal investigations.

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