The Myanmar Police Force will begin investigating money laundering in cooperation with the United Nations Offices on Drug and Crime (UNODC), Zaw Win, chief of the force.
Cooperation is heightened after the Ministry of Planning and UNODC signed the integrated Country Programme for 2014-2017 on Monday, agreeing to collaborate together to strengthen the rule law and address significant crime and drug issues. The agreement was approved by President Thein Sein and the Cabinet.
Investigations into money laundering will include transnational crimes, narcotics, human trafficking and illegal timber extraction, Zaw Win said.
Parliament approved the Anti-money Laundering Law on March 14. UNODC’s support could affect investigations about share dealings at Asia Green Development Bank to determine whether the cash using to buy shares was derived from or connected to illegal activity, officials said.
The agreement calls for building the capacity for Myanmar police to implement UNODC programs according to international standards of policing.
Officials said that investigations into alleged financial aid to terrorist groups as well as efforts to reduce violent crime will accelerate following the agreement.
Zaw Win said there will also be a shift to prevention of crime that will be in line with the transformation to democracy. An opium poppy substitution programme for farmers will also be introduced in cooperation with UNODC, the police chief said.
Today, senior policy, law enforcement and justice delegates gathered at special regional conference in Yangon. They shared the information that East and Southeast Asia remains the world’s largest market for synthetic drugs, and the methamphetamine problem is showing signs of accelerating, with Myanmar being a key part of the jigsaw,
The event was organized by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime Global SMART Programme.
Growing demand in East and Southeast Asia for methamphetamine is being met by large-scale production in China, Myanmar and several other countries in the region. Information presented at the conference confirms continued high, and rising, demand and supply of methamphetamine.
“Organized crime groups are well positioned to take advantage of regional integration agreements to expand the trafficking of synthetic drugs and precursor chemicals” said Jeremy Douglas, UN Regional Representative for Southeast Asia and the Pacific.
“Capacities to ensure the rule of law vary greatly across the region, and this evolving and growing threat diverts increasing amounts of scarce state resources away from efforts to develop and improve governance. Douglas commented further that “It can’t be ignored that the billions generated for organised crime exceed the size of several national economies in the region. Where is the money going?”
While most of the methamphetamine produced in East and Southeast Asia is consumed within the region large quantities are also being trafficked to nearby major markets like Japan, Australia and New Zealand, and more recently to neighbouring South Asia. Transnational criminal groups also continue to identify new precursor sources and methods for production, and are diversifying trafficking routes.
Myanmar remains a major source of both methamphetamine pills and crystal methamphetamine or “ice”, with significant volumes from the country seized in neighbouring states. At the same time the Government of Myanmar officials acknowledged methamphetamine use is rapidly increasing across the country.
“A much greater degree of information sharing and cooperation is needed to effectively respond to the synthetic drug and precursor problems in our country and across Asean,” said Pol Lt Gen Kyaw Win of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control (CCDAC), Ministry of Home Affairs. “No country can tackle these challenges alone, and there is no doubt we need improved training and support for frontline law enforcement and justice officers, especially along the Mekong corridor and in remote areas of the region.”
Several delegations raised concerns about new psychoactive substances (NPS) also known as “legal highs” being produced by introducing slight modifications to the chemistry of controlled drugs. The fast-paced nature and evolution of the regional drug market has raised concerns that transnational organised criminal groups are expanding product lines to target youth.
In 2008, UNODC launched the Global SMART Programme to enhance the capacity of states and authorities in East and Southeast Asia to generate, manage, analyse, report and use synthetic drug and precursor information, and to apply this evidence-based knowledge to strategy, policy and programme design and implementation.
All 10 Asean nations and China now receive related assistance from UNODC through Global SMART. The programme is funded by the governments of Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.