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On 11-12 and 18 November 2021 meetings of working groups and the 35th Plenary meeting of the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG) were held online, which were attended by representatives of EAG member-states, FATF Secretariat as well as states and organizations-observers of the Group.

On November 12, 2021 the representative of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Center for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors (CARICC/Centre) Ms. T. Evdokimova took part in the meeting of the Working Group on typologies and combating financing of terrorism and crime (WGTCFTC) organized via video conference within the 35th EAG Plenary meeting.

The representatives of 9 EAG member states (Republic of Belarus, Republic of India, Republic of Kazakhstan, People's Republic of China, Kyrgyz Republic, Russian Federation, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan), FATF Secretariat as well as 13 states and 18 organizations-observers of the Group took part in the event.

Ms. T. Evdokimova, the member of the project group on development of the typologies project "EAG Financial Investigation Manual on AML/CFT" concurrently, presented current results of the typologies project, which include: project progress, current status of questionnaire responses, activity of individual observers in the project, conducted activities of the project group during the intersessional period, as well as further short-term steps of the project.

The Secretariat, due to justified reasons and objective circumstances, proposed to consider postponing the approval of the EAG AML/CFT Financial Investigations Manual for one plenary cycle, i.e. until the 37th Plenary meeting in November 2022.

The WGTCFTC participants exchanged best practices, typologies and experience in automation of analytical activities. In particular, the working group held a round table on the exchange of AML/CFT best practices. The participants of the meeting considered the practice of the Russian Federation on the topic: "Transparent Blockchain digital service for monitoring and analysis of cryptocurrency transactions", as well as heard the speech of the UN Monitoring Group on the topic: "History and current status of the sanctions regime of the UN Security Council Committee 1988", discussed the situation in Afghanistan.

The Plenary meeting elected Mr. Y.A.  Chikhanchin as the EAG Chairman. (Russian Federation) and Deputy EAG Chairman Mr. D.D. Khalbayev (Turkmenistan) for the period 2022-2023 and approved the main priorities of the presidency in 2022-2023.

The Plenary heard the 3rd report on the progress of the Kyrgyz Republic without reviewing the technical compliance ratings under the second round of EAG mutual evaluations and noted the country's progress in improving the AML/CFT system, and approved the high-level mission to the Kyrgyz Republic to confirm the political will to follow the specified FATF Principles for voluntary tax compliance programs.

In addition, it was agreed to hold the next Forum of the Eurasian AML/CFT Group, which will be held in the beginning of 2022 in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The Plenary meeting approved the extension of work on the first round of ML/TF risk assessment in the Eurasian region. Following the decision of the Plenary meeting amendments were made to the Methodology of ML/TF risk assessment in the Eurasian region.

The results of the 7th International Forum on supervisory activity "Instruments and mechanisms of application of risk-oriented approach in AML/CFT supervisory activity" and the seminar on exchange of experience in terms of implementation of the FATF Standards in relation to virtual assets were summarized.

The Plenary meeting welcomed the results of the first International Financial Security Olympiad. The important role of the International AML/CFT Network Institute and MUMCFM as the basic training organization of the CIS countries in preparation and holding the First International Olympiad on Financial Security was noted.

The 36th EAG Plenary meeting will be held in May 2022 in the Republic of Uzbekistan.

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The annual working meeting of the steering committees established within the component of the UNODC border liaison programme in Central Asia was held from 16 to 17 November 2021 at CARICC in hybrid format.

The working meeting was attended by representatives of border agencies, customs services, Ministries of Internal and Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Republic of Uzbekistan, Embassy of Japan to the Republic of Kazakhstan, as well as experts from UNODC Programme Offices in Central Asia and CARICC.

In the course of the event, Ms Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, Mr Miralizoda Rustam Aziz, Director of CARICC and Mr Kanata Tomohiro, Deputy Head of the Mission of Japan to the Republic of Kazakhstan delivered welcoming remarks.

The meeting was moderated by Mr. Yusuf Kurbonov, International Coordinator of the UNODC Programme in Central Asia.

During the meeting, the delegations were briefed on implementation of the UNODC Programme component and its impact on border security and cross-border cooperation in the region, activities of the newly established Border Liaison Offices, as well as information on the results achieved, including planned activities envisaged under the Border Cooperation Component.

In accordance with the program of the meeting CARICC employees demonstrated presentations on "CARICC as a leading platform for regional and international cooperation in combating drug trafficking and trans-border drug-related crime" and "CARICC cooperation with the UNODC: results and prospects". 

As the result of the event, the main priorities of competent bodies of Central Asian states in strengthening national borders were identified, and recommendations containing regional response measures, including strategies and plans of joint actions, including further development of the UNODC Programme component involving CARICC potential, were elaborated. 

Participants emphasized the importance of interaction through enhanced international cooperation, exchange of positive experiences and further development of relations in the field of border security and countering transnational drug-related crime.

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For his contribution to the development and strengthening of international cooperation between the competent bodies of the member states of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for combating illicit trafficking in narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, on the eve of the National Holiday - Constitution Day of the Republic of Azerbaijan, the Director Major-General of Militia Mr. Miralizoda Rustam Aziz rewarded the authorized representative of the MIA of Azerbaijan in CARICC Mr. Radjabov Elbrus Nuraddinovich, Police Colonel-Lieutenant with the commemorative medal of the Centre for Contribution to cooperation development.  

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On 4 November 2021, representatives of CARICC and Phase 7 of the European Union's Central Asia Drug Action Programme (CADAP 7) had a meeting via videoconference. 

Azizbek Erkaboev, Advisor/Head of the Information and Analytical Division of CARICC, and Barzu Avazzoda, Analyst of the Centre, participated on behalf of CARICC.

On behalf of CADAP 7 attended Ernest Robello, Programme Manager, and the programme's employees as well.

Mr. E. Robello informed that CADAP Phase 7 is implemented by the Consortium of EU Member States (Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Poland and Greece).

Mr. A. Erkaboev informed about current activities of CARICC as one of the large-scale UNODC projects in the Central Asia, as well as the information and analytical work being carried out by the Centre.

The meeting focused on prospective of bilateral cooperation and supported CARICC's initiative to exchange experiences with the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA).

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On November 2, 2021, a delegation of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Group of the UN Security Council Committees 1267 and 1988 (hereinafter referred to as the Group), represented by experts Mr. V. Stojunda and Mr. T. Ashetov, visited the Central Asian Regional Information Coordination Center for combating illicit trafficking of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors (hereinafter referred to as the CARICC/Centre) in Almaty.

As a result of the visit, working meeting of the CARICC representatives consisting of Mr. A.Yazlyev, Mr. A.Erkaboev and Mrs. T.Yevdokimova with the Group experts was held, during which the parties discussed the situation in Afghanistan. There was an exchange of views on the impact of the "new reality" on the production and supply of drugs of Afghan origin in foreign markets, including the "Northern route".

The threats emanating from Afghanistan to the Central Asian region, the prospects for the involvement of Central Asian terrorist groups in the drug trade, as well as changes in the structure and logistics of drug trafficking and the redistribution of the drug market under the influence of the trend of distribution of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances of synthetic origin were considered. During the working meeting, the changes in drug prices in Afghanistan and their impact on the profits of the groups involved were assessed. 

In addition, the meeting participants outlined the risks of money laundering and terrorist financing against the background of the economic and financial crisis in Afghanistan, including the use of virtual assets (cryptocurrencies) and virtual asset service providers, as well as international payment systems and the non-traditional transfer system “Hawala”. 

The Group Experts, on their part, shared their assessments and forecasts of the situation in Afghanistan and the sanctions regimes of 1267 (ISIS, Al-Qaeda) and 1988 (war and peace issues in Afghanistan).

As a result of the working meeting, there were developed approaches and outlined plans for further cooperation between CARICC and the Group, taking into account the development of the situation in Afghanistan and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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November 2, 2021 in the city of Nur-Sultan, a meeting was held between the Director of CARICC, Major General of Militia Miralizoda Rustam Aziz with the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Japan to Kazakhstan, Mr. Jun Yamada.

Head of the UNODC Almaty Office, Mr. Naweed Riaz, and the Adviser / Head of the CARICC Organizational Unit, Ms. Asel Rakhimova also attended the meeting.

During the negotiations, the parties exchanged views on the state and prospects of international cooperation against the background of the evolving situation in Afghanistan, discussed issues of joint interaction within the framework of UN anti-drug projects funded by the Japanese side.

The director of CARICC informed about the activities of the Center, which is a permanent regional intergovernmental body to assist in the organization and conduct of joint international operations to combat drug trafficking. He said that with the onset of the crisis in Afghanistan, the Center focused its efforts on monitoring the drug situation in this country to analyze and prepare an objective assessment of the threat of drug trafficking, study and identify financial flows of transnational organized crime from drug trafficking and financing through terrorism.

Mr. R. Miralizoda thanked the Japanese side for the support provided to CARICC and UNODC projects and expressed readiness to intensify cooperation in the implementation of joint anti-drug projects.

Ambassador Jun Yamada expressed the commitment of the Japanese side to expanding financial and technical assistance to Afghanistan and the Central Asian region through the prism of international organizations, including projects implemented under the auspices of the UN.

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On 28-29 October 2021, the CARICC employees attended online the Expert Working Group meeting on Precursors of the Paris Pact Initiative online held in Vienna, Austria, in hybrid format.

The Expert Working Group is directly linked to Pillar III on Prevention of Diversion of Precursor Chemicals of the Vienna Declaration adopted at the Ministerial Meeting of the Paris Pact Partners in 2012.

The meeting brought together leading practitioners from more than 25 Paris Pact partner countries and organizations responsible for precursor action (more than 100 participants). During the two days, the participants looked at existing gaps, challenges and problems, as well as anticipated operational actions in precursor-related areas.

In the course of the meeting, a presentation entitled "Collaboration of CARICC and UNODC in the framework of the regional operation "Substitution Operation" was delivered by a specialist from CARICC International Operations Facilitation and Coordination Unit, including Controlled Delivery. Phase 3".

It is noted that Operation "Substitute. Phase 3" is focused on identifying and intercepting smuggled consignments of acetic anhydride, ammonium chloride, acetic acid, as well as non-scheduled chemicals that are directly used in the illicit manufacture of heroin.

As a result of the event, participants developed and adopted priority recommendations with concrete proposals and identified opportunities for operational initiatives and new activities aimed at disrupting trafficking in precursors. 

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On October 25-26, 2021 the delegation of the Central Asian Regional Information and Coordination Centre for Combating Illicit Trafficking of Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and their Precursors (CARICC/Centre) represented by Mr. A.A. Erkaboev and Ms. T.V. Evdokimova attended an international workshop on exchange of experience in the implementation of FATF requirements regarding virtual assets and virtual asset service providers (VA/VASP) in Almaty.

Virtual assets, including cryptocurrencies, have been increasingly used in money laundering and terrorist financing. This workshop aims to improve measures to counter money laundering and terrorist financing by sharing experiences.

The workshop was organised by the Eurasian Group on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism (EAG), the Financial Monitoring Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan (FMA), the International Training and Methodological Centre for Financial Monitoring (ITMCFM) and the People's Bank of China. 

The workshop was attended by representatives of the Secretariat of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the FATF Contact Group on Virtual Assets, the EAG Secretariat, UNODC, CARICC, delegations from the financial intelligence divisions of Australia, China, Iran, Japan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Sweden, as well as representatives from Switzerland, Uzbekistan and the USA. 

Participants were provided with presentations on the clarification of the FATF standards, the results of the second 12-month review of the revised FATF standards for virtual assets and virtual asset providers, and a brief overview of the key changes to the FATF Guidance on the Risk-Based Approach for Virtual Assets and Virtual Asset Providers and an explanation of the key provisions.

In addition, the first day of the workshop the experience of countries which have been assessed for compliance with the new FATF standards was reviewed, in particular the experience of China (the country which banned VA/VASP) as well as Japan (the country which regulates VA/VASP) were presented.

There is also as an example of the Russian Federation, Switzerland, Uzbekistan and the United States in which participants considered the specifics of assessing ML/TF risks associated with VA or VASP activities.

The second day of the workshop consisted of presentations by delegations from the Republic of Belarus, Australia, Sweden on the organisation of VASP supervisory activities, including international cooperation in the VASP supervision process and the application of administrative, criminal or civil penalties against VASP for failure to comply with AML/CFT requirements and obligations. 

Representatives of national financial market supervisors, regulators and supervisors of financial institutions and VASPs, experts in blockchain analysis and cybercrime made presentations at the workshop.

The workshop concluded with an extensive discussion of the new FATF standards on VA and VASP and an exchange of experiences on measures to improve the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing using VA and VASP. 

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