UN crime watchdog helps Iran set up unit to combat money-laundering from drugs trade


9 February - Iran has teamed with the United Nations anti-crime agency to set up a financial intelligence unit tasked with tackling the spread of money-laundering in the country, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) announced today.

The move is a major step forward towards fighting the use of illicit earnings in Iran – mostly connected to opium trafficking from neighbouring Afghanistan – to finance serious criminal activity, undermining peace and security in the country.

In a 2009 report, UNODC estimated that trafficking in opiates has created an illegal market worth some $65 billion annually, more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of at least 120 countries and 65 times the value of the market for firearms trafficking.

“The time has come to celebrate progress on anti-money-laundering by the Islamic Republic of Iran,” UNODC's country representative Antonino De Leo said at the inauguration of the new unit.

“UNODC is proud of having contributed to these national achievements through its technical assistance programme,” added Mr. De Leo.

The new unit, initially consisting of 15 officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance, will analyse suspicious domestic and international financial transactions, and help the judiciary investigate and prosecute those involved in money-laundering.

UNODC has also assisted Iran in establishing a computer-based training centre in its capital, Tehran, which is “a centre of excellence to train officials on international best practices in tackling money-laundering and financing of terrorism,” said Mr. De Leo.