Dirty money and corruption in the Pacific: Making the links

Transparency International New Zealand (TINZ) is  embarking on an exciting research project on corruption and money laundering across the Pacific.

This project is sponsored by the global body Transparency International, through  funding from New Zealand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). 

A request for proposal has been undertaken and we expect the project to be underway by the end of February 2021.

This research will identify and describe the links between money laundering and corruption across the Pacific. It will look at the vulnerabilities of Pacific nations and the economic and political risks they face from this nexus. It will look at what mechanisms exist, and those that are lacking, to ensure that the corporate, social-cultural and financial systems of nations are not abused. 

The research will take a closer focus on selected Pacific forum nations, and will make recommendations to inform policy and further advocacy.

There is a body of research on money laundering risks in New Zealand, but there is little on how the proceeds of corrupt activities can be laundered in Pacific countries.

Money laundering supports the proceeds of corruption such as drug trafficking, cybercrime, exploitation of people, financial fraud, corrupt procurement and corrupt financial arrangements. The outcome is further impoverishment of already poor peoples of the Pacific.

The strengthening of compliance regimes since Pacific Islands Forum decisions made in 2016, have revealed substantial risks in the region. 

Money laundering and terrorist financing risk assessments for Cook Islands, Vanuatu and other Pacific Island nations indicate risks that vary from one country to another. These include layering of proceeds of crime through financial sector cross-border currency transfers, drug trafficking and other organised crime.

TINZ wants to contribute to the evidence base on this topic, and to use the research findings to advocate for strengthening of integrity systems and legal frameworks; as well as informing civil society voices.

The project will run throughout 2021 with a report due by December.           

Mariam Mathew, the Pacific Regional Engagement and Advocacy Lead for Transparency International, recently posted an informative blog: Corruption in the Pacific: no change in perceptions in 2020 at devpolicy.org.

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