October 27, 2021
Overview: Namibia, bordering the South Atlantic Ocean in Southern Africa, is rich in natural resources from diamonds and uranium to fish and zinc. Its middle-income status belies high socioeconomic inequalities and corruption, the latter from the micro level up to national and transnational dealings. TraCCC’s Community Solutions Program (CSP) Fellow, Allen Muketela, will present an overview of corruption in Namibia, including in the realm of natural resources and the impact of graft on equitable development.
Date and Time
October 27, 2021
1:30 to 3:00 PM, EST
Allen Muketela is a 2021-22 Fellow from Namibia in the Community Solutions Program (CSP), a U.S. Department of State sponsored leadership and exchange program implemented by IREX that brings early- to mid-career changemakers between 25-38 years of age and from over 90 countries. TraCCC is pleased to be Allen’s virtual CSP Practicum host. His practicum focus is on the nexus of corruption and equitable development in his country, particularly in the Zambezi region. Allen was one of the founders of a prior youth initiative, the Zambezi Anti-Corruption movement. He’s an entrepreneur and experienced facilitator and career guidance and financial literacy mentor for junior and secondary schools.
A. Alonso Aguirre: Department Chair & Professor, Environmental Science and Policy, GMU (discussant)
Shaazka Beyerle: Senior Fellow at TraCCC (facilitator)
November 30, 2021
Louise Shelley will discuss her research and the work TraCCC does on a November 30 Vision Series event from 7:00 to 8:00 PM. It will be broadcast on GMU TV and the precise topic is TBD.
December 1, 2021
The Enablers: How the West Supports Kleptocrats and Corruption – Endangering Our Democracy
A book discussion with Frank Vogl
Overview: Authoritarian regimes in many countries, and the men that lead them, depend on the international management of licit and illicit funds under their control. The vital management services are provided by “THE ENABLERS” – banks, real estate brokers, auditors, lawyers, financial consultants, and art auction houses headquartered on Wall Street, in the City of London and in other major international financial capitals.
Frank Vogl details the massive scale of the activities of today’s enablers for their kleptocratic clients and why curbing their operations is critical to secure democracy, enhance national security, and ensure international financial stability.
Date and Time
December 1, 2021
12:00 to 1:30 PM, EST
Frank Vogl: Author and Presenter
Louise Shelley: Moderator
Underway: Executive Webinar
Transnational Crime, Money Laundering & Illicit Finance from Authoritarian States
COURSE NAME: Transnational Crime, Money laundering and Illicit Finance from Authoritarian States
COURSE DATE: October 12th – November 11th, 2021
TIME: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 4:00pm-5:00pm EST
WHERE: Zoom Webinar
CREDITS: Participants will receive a Schar School TraCCC certificate of completion and earn 1.5 CEUs (Continuing Education Units). Please email for the CEUs application.
Online Course & Certificate
This online course on Transnational Crime, Money Laundering, and Illicit Finance from Authoritarian States will focus on understanding the differences in laundering between China and Post-Soviet states. Money-laundering from these authoritarian states is the subject of much legislation under consideration by Congress. This course will be taught by two internationally-recognized experts on AML/CFT, John Cassara (former US law enforcement Special Agent and author) and Lakshmi Kumar (Policy Director, Global Financial Integrity). David Luna (former U.S. State Department official) and Dr. Louise Shelley (University professor and Omer L. and Nancy Hirst Endowed Chair at the Schar School of Policy and International Affairs at George Mason University and founder and executive director of TraCCC) will also be guest instructors as well as Andrew McCabe, former deputy director of the FBI and possibly Michael Morrell, former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The instruction will be in “real time” where students login to the virtual class on GMU’s platform. The sessions will be recorded so that if students are unable to join live, they will be able to later review content. Students that successfully complete this executive development webinar will receive a certificate from the Anti-Illicit Trade Institute of the Terrorism, Transnational Crime, and Corruption Center (TraCCC), Schar School of Policy and Government.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has estimated that money laundering comprises approximately 2 to 5 percent of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP) each year, or approximately $1.74 trillion to $4.35 trillion. The amount of illicit funds is steadily increasing. Dark money and finance pose direct threats to societal stability, governments, and the global financial system.
China is the factory to the world. It is a producer of both large amounts of licit commodities as well as illicit— including counterfeits, fentanyl and precursor chemicals for illicit narcotics. To help drive its economic growth, it is a major importer of illicitly harvested timber, IUU fish, rare-earth minerals and many other illegally obtained commodities. Therefore, it generates massive revenues from its participation in the licit and the illicit economies. Post-Soviet authoritarian states are not major producers of goods. Therefore, their involvement with trade-based money laundering (TBML) is confined primarily to natural resources and the transit of goods such as narcotics. Both China and Russia utilize cyber-criminal enterprises to target western governments and private sector entities in ways to advance the nations’ strategic interests. The proceeds from these crimes must be laundered.
Money laundering consists of hiding the proceeds of transnational crime as measured by predicate offenses or specified unlawful activities. Both the Organization for Economic Development and Global Financial Integrity have released influential reports examining the top sectors of transnational crime. In both reports, China figures prominently. China’s economy is based on production and trade and is now the world’s largest trading nation. Its role in illicit trade requires it to rely heavily on trade-based money laundering.
Although the numbers are not precise and, in some cases, do not exist, the bottom line is that a strong argument can be made that China is responsible for introducing and laundering approximately $1.5 – $2 trillion of illicit funds into the world’s economy every year as measured by predicate offenses. Another way of looking at the magnitude of the problem is that approximately one-half of the total amount of money laundered worldwide is of Chinese origin. China also provides money laundering services to the Mexican drug cartels and have developed their own laundering methodologies.
In 2021 the U.S. Department of State calls “The People’s Republic of China (PRC) a global hub for money laundering.” According to an Atlantic Council Report, Russia has the world’s largest volume of dark money hidden abroad—about $1 trillion—both in absolute terms and as a percentage of its national GDP.
For many reasons, including a lack of linguistic capacity and cultural understanding, there are a limited number of criminal investigations and criminal cases of Chinese and Post-Soviet transnational crime that follow the money and value trails. Unfortunately, these investigations are hindered as these countries consistently fail to cooperate with other countries in resolving cross-border money laundering and other financial crimes.
Just as international trade in the past helped China develop a sophisticated system of underground banking, China along with Russia is a world leader in “new payment” systems of transferring money and value including but not confined to cryptocurrencies. Many observers believe Chinese and Post-Soviet involvement in illicit trade is encouraged or tolerated to help achieve state ambitions. This course will ask the question: Is transnational crime (and resulting money laundering) a form of asymmetric warfare of authoritarian states?
Course Highlights and Features
This is the first known academic course that examines authoritarian states’ role in international money laundering.
This course will focus on Chinese and Post-Soviet illicit trade, money laundering and illicit finance. At the same time, it will provide information on understanding how money laundering works, current issues, trends and methodologies used by today’s bad actors. It will contrast the forms of Chinese money laundering with that used in the post-Soviet successor states.
Post-Soviet states have TBML tied almost entirely to natural resources, drugs, illicit tobacco and human trafficking whereas Chinese are involved involvement in all these forms of illicit trade and in addition, counterfeit goods, state-sponsored intellectual property rights violations, and trade fraud.
Chinese centric enablers for money laundering include underground banking, “flying money,” investment in real estate, casinos, state-sponsored identify theft, bribery and corruption, the use of offshore secrecy jurisdictions, and others.
The instructors will share practical insights on what works and what does not by examining effective international standards such as those by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), AML measures, best practices, and case studies in detecting and preventing the laundering of dirty money. This course will also focus on TBML, underground financial systems, free trade zones (FTZs), black market exchanges, new payment methods, and other illicit finance processes, vehicles and methods that enable bad actors to disguise and clean their dirty money.
The training webinar is designed for professionals in all public and private sectors and industries impacted by illicit finance and China and other authoritarian states.
Topics covered in this five-week course over 10 sessions including the following:
I. Introduction to Transnational Crime, Money laundering and Illicit Finance from Authoritarian States Context and Perspective; Dr. Louise Shelley and Andrew McCabe.
II. Chinese and Post-Soviet Illicit Trade as Predicate Offenses for Money Laundering; John Cassara
III. Enablers of Money Laundering from Authoritarian States; John Cassara
IV: Trade-based Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flows with a Comparison of China with other Regions; Lakshmi Kumar
V: Chinese and Post-Soviet New Payment Methods including the digital yuan, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, Underground Banking, and Flying Money; John Cassara
VI: Global Trade and Free Trade Zones with a Focus on China and Post-Soviet states; Lakshmi Kumar
VII. Corruption and Money Laundering into Real Estate (Dirty Money) with a Focus on China and Post-Soviet investment in the U.S., Canada, Australia, the U.K., and other locales; David Luna, Lakshmi Kumar, and Dr. Louise Shelley
VIII. Transnational Crime and Fentanyl and Chinese money laundering for Mexican cartels, Northern Drug Route out of Afghanistan through Central Asia and Russia; Dr. Louise Shelley
IX: Chinese Mercantilism, Exploitation, and the Creation of Debt Traps; John Cassara
X: Practical exercises and discussion; all instructors
60 minutes per session; two sessions per week for five weeks. Fall 2021
About the Instructors
John Cassara began his 26-year government career as a covert intelligence officer during the Cold War. He later served as a Treasury Special Agent in both the U.S. Secret Service and US Customs Service where he investigated money laundering, trade fraud, and international smuggling. He was an undercover arms dealer for two years. Assigned overseas in the Middle East, he developed expertise in money laundering, value transfer, and underground financial systems. He also worked six years for the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and was detailed to the Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Mr. Cassara’s final assignment was with the Treasury’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence (TFI). Since his retirement, he has lectured in the United States and around the world on a variety of transnational crime issues. He has been a consultant for government and industry, and is currently on the Board of Directors of Global Financial Integrity. Mr. Cassara has authored and co-authored several articles and books. His latest publications include Trade Based Money Laundering: The Next Frontier in International Money Laundering Enforcement (Wiley 2016) and Money Laundering and Illicit Financial Flows: Following the Money and Value Trails (Amazon/KDP 2020). More information is available at www.JohnCassara.com.
Lakshmi Kumar is the Policy Director at Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, D.C.-based think tank specializing in research, advocacy, and advisory services. Ms. Kumar works on issues of illicit finance and trade, and the vehicles, systems, and institutions that facilitate movement of illicit money across borders. She has spoken as a subject matter expert on issues including illicit gold trade, trade-based money laundering, kleptocracies, the abuse of anonymous shell companies, and the integrity risks of Sovereign Wealth Funds. Ms. Kumar has spoken publicly on these subjects at Capitol Hill, the OECD, the Atlantic Council, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and various other think tanks in D.C., as well as venues in Africa and South America. As a legal expert, she has contributed through her authorship to reports of institutions including the United National Economic Commission of Africa and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Prior to joining GFI, Ms. Kumar was a lawyer and policy professional in India, working with governments and regulatory agencies across South Asia, East Africa, and Eurasia to investigate money laundering and terrorist financing risks in their financial systems.
** Unless otherwise specified, all events are free, open to the public, and are held at Van Metre Hall, 3351 Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22201 (one block from the Virginia Square Metro Stop, see map). However, seating is limited and reservations are suggested. To secure a seat, please register here, call TraCCC at 703-993-9757 or e-mail us at email@example.com. Accommodations will be made for persons with disabilities upon request.
Metered parking is available around the building and a pay garage can be accessed from directly behind Van Metre Hall (see map). TraCCC is unfortunately unable to validate parking.