Office of Technical Assistance

Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs

OTA is comprised of five teams focused on particular areas of financial sector technical assistance to foreign governments. The mission of the OTA Economic Crimes Team (ECT), in particular, is to provide technical assistance to develop internationally compliant AML/CFT regimes. OTA supports self-reliance by providing countries with the knowledge and skills required to move towards self-sufficiency and to reduce dependence on international aid. OTA works side-by-side with counterparts by introducing sound practices in daily work routines through ongoing mentoring and on-the-job training, which is accomplished through co-location, whether in a financial intelligence unit, central bank, finance ministry, law enforcement authority, or other relevant government agency.

In the context of providing technical assistance to reform AML/CFT frameworks, the ECT also addresses other financial and predicate crimes, including corruption and organized crime. To ensure successful outcomes, ECT engagements are predicated on express requests by foreign government counterparts. ECT management conducts an on-site assessment of the jurisdiction to consider, not only non-compliance with international standards and the corresponding need for technical assistance, but also willingness by the counterpart to engage in active partnership with the ECT to address those deficiencies.

An ECT engagement, tailored to the specific conditions of the jurisdiction, may involve placement of a resident advisor or utilization of intermittent advisors under the coordination of a team lead. The scope of ECT technical assistance is broad and can include awareness-raising aimed at the range of AML/CFT stakeholders; improvements to an AML/CFT legal framework to include legislation, regulations, and formal guidance; and improvement of the technical competence of stakeholders. The range of on-the-job and classroom training provided by the ECT is equally broad and includes, among other topics, supervisory techniques for banking, money and value transfer systems, securities, insurance, gaming, and other regulatory areas; analytic and financial investigative techniques; cross-border currency movement; trade-based money laundering; asset seizure, forfeiture, and management; and the use of interagency financial crimes working groups.

In 2015, following these principles and methods, the ECT delivered technical assistance in Burma, Cambodia, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Dominica, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, and Saudi Arabia. Representative counterpart accomplishments from around the world that were supported by that technical assistance include the following activities. In Burma, the Central Bank, with ECT guidance, hosted a successful and well-attended compliance forum in September 2015 and by the end of the year assumed the full leadership role in planning a series of private sector compliance fora expected in 2016. In Cabo Verde, counterparts formed an interagency Financial Crimes Working Group that is addressing functional gaps in the AML/CFT framework to include a cross-border currency declaration regime. El Salvador approved a cash bulk smuggling law in August 2015 that provides for criminal sanctions for failure to declare currency and other monetary instruments equal to or exceeding $10,000. Jamaica’s Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Agency implemented a new case management system that helped reduce its active investigations by 50% thus allowing investigators to focus on priority cases and gain greater depth in investigations. Lastly, the Peruvian asset management agency successfully disposed of specialized forfeited assets, netting over $300,000 in a jewelry auction and over $4 million in real estate auctions, providing much needed funding support for Peruvian law enforcement agencies.