Illicit Financial Flows

Mapping networks, analyzing tools, disrupting flows

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Chatham House, London


The financing of terrorism, tax evasion, laundering the proceeds of organized crime and corruption, amongst other criminal activities, all contribute to the vast amounts of illicit money and capital being moved through the international banking and trade system every year. With approximately $1 trillion flowing out of developing economies alone, these flows not only help to fund illegal activities and criminal organizations but also hinder much-needed economic growth and help to perpetuate conflicts around the world.

Which channels are being utilized to move this capital, and how can they be disrupted? What role should public and private actors play in preventing illicit financial flows, and what strategies have proved most effective?

This conference will deliver expert insights from senior policy-makers and key stakeholders, with an assessment of the evolution of illicit finance worldwide, an examination of the specific methods and networks utilized, and an evaluation of the effectiveness of potential solutions.

Key questions to be addressed include:

  • What exactly are illicit financial flows? What should the term encompass?
  • How can authorities and businesses accurately map money laundering networks globally? Where exactly is illicit finance coming from, and where is it going?
  • What are the specific tools that facilitate illicit flows? How effective are different regulatory and industry measures in combating them? How can enforcement be strengthened?
  • What are the roles of different public and private actors in this space and what are their current responsibilities? How should roles and responsibilities be attributed?
  • How can governments and businesses work together to achieve greater transparency in the international financial system? How critical is information sharing?
  • To what extents are illicit financial flows tackled ‘after the fact’? Should attention be shifted towards tackling the sources, rather than the flows?

The Chatham House Rule 
To enable as open a debate as possible, this conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule.



Register by Friday 17 March 2017 to benefit from the early booking rate.

For any questions about which rate applies to you, please call Alex Cook on +44 (0)207 957 5727



Partners and major corporate members  
All organizations£495£595
Standard corporate members  
Commercial organizations£1,085£1,180
Government departments£620£700
NGOs and academics£380£460
Commercial organizations£1,190£1,295
Government departments£680£750
NGOs and academics£440£510

Monday 15 May

Overview | Illicit Financial Flows Today

From the funding of terrorist organizations to the revelations in the Panama Papers, events of recent months have propelled awareness of illicit finance and the networks through which it flows to the forefront of public consciousness. Which examples have been most significant and why? What will be the long-term significance of greater understanding of illicit flows? What does it reveal about the challenges in combating them?

Session One | Mapping Networks

This session will focus on mapping illicit finance networks globally, assessing the need for greater transparency and identifying strategies to aid disruption.

  • Where are flows coming from globally, and where are they going? What are the implications of this for developing and developed states in terms of their responsibilities for combating illicit flows?
  • What are the consequences of illicit capital flight for developing countries? How effective have international responses, including those from OECD member states, been to this outflow, and how can these be improved?
  • What portion of illicit financial flows is linked to corruption? How can a better understanding of this help to shape more effective prevention strategies? Is there a need for expansion beyond typical anti-money laundering (AML) measures?
  • What is the risk that prevention measures within financial systems may unintentionally deepen financial exclusion, particularly in developing economies? How can this risk be ameliorated?
  • What are the links between organized crime and terrorist financing and does there need to be a more holistic approach and systemic analysis when mapping global illicit finance networks?
  • To what extent is asset recovery a priority over crime prevention, and what challenges does this present?
  • Is the capacity of the private sector to combat illicit financial flows adequate or underutilized? What avenues exist for deeper public–private cooperation?

Session Two | The Banking System and Financial Institutions

This session will explore the role and responsibilities of banking and financial institutions in curbing the flow of illicit finance, the implications of recent legislation, the need for information sharing and further avenues for cooperation.

  • What are the roles and responsibilities of banking and financial institutions in preventing illicit financial flows? In contrast to law enforcement and policy-making bodies, what obligations should be met by the international financial system and what are the current barriers to meeting these obligations?
  • To what extent is greater information sharing the main priority towards increasing transparency, disrupting flows and unlocking great co-operation? How do information gathering processes need to be improved and how can public and private actors work together to achieve this?
  • How do methods for countering illicit finance influence the ability to conduct finance regionally? How do due diligence and on-boarding costs, for example, affect economic activity in the developing world?
  • What banking measures and practices, such as ‘Know Your Customer’ and ‘Customer Due Diligence’ have seen the greatest successes in preventing illicit financial flows and monitoring suspicious activity? Have there been trade-offs, for example in de-risking behaviours?
  • How will evolving policy developments, such as the UK’s Criminal Finance Bill, affect the obligations of financial institutions? How can institutions and Financial Intelligence Units work together to strengthen enforcement and foster a compliance culture?

Session Three | Illicit Trade

This session will examine forms of illegal trade and challenges for identifying illicit trading practices to improve global disruption strategies, as well as regulatory developments and their effectiveness.

  • What are the most significant forms of illegal trade, such as wildlife, minerals, cigarettes and people trafficking? What are the ‘new blood diamonds’, and how can their movement be disrupted?
  • What responsibilities and duty of care do corporations have in this space? What are the implications of recent legislation, such as the Modern Slavery Act?
  • What proportion of illicit financial flows is comprised of trade misinvoicing and mispricing? Why is this so difficult to detect with traditional methods such as electronic screening, and what other methods have seen greater success?
  • What specific strategies and financial vehicles have recently been employed to avoid trade sanctions? How can these be disrupted?
  • What is the role of free-trade zones in facilitating illegal trade? Can the first be fostered without aiding the latter?

1730 End of conference and reception hosted by Chatham House

© The Royal Institute of International Affairs 2017


Raymond W. Baker to speak at the Chatham House Illicit Financial Flows 2017 conference

Raymond W. Baker

President, Global Financial Integrity

Lord Daniel Brennan QC to speak at the Chatham House Illicit Financial Flows 2017 conference

Lord Daniel Brennan QC

Senior Associate, Matrix Chambers

Tom Keatinge to speak at the Chatham House Illicit Financial Flows 2017 conference

Tom Keatinge

Director, Centre for Financial Crime and Security Studies, RUSI

Phil Mason to speak at the Chatham House Illicit Financial Flows 2017 conference

Phil Mason

Head, Anti-Corruption Policy, Department for International Development

Jacqueline Molnar to speak at Chatham House Countering Terrorist Financing 2016 conference

Jacqueline Molnar

Chief Compliance Officer, Western Union

Donald Toon to speak at the Chatham House Illicit Financial Flows 2017 conference

Donald Toon

Director, Economic Crime, National Crime Agency

Emile Van Der Does De Willebois to speak at the Chatham House Illicit Financial Flows 2017 conference

Emile Van Der Does De Willebois

Global Lead for Financial Market Integrity, Finance & Markets, The World Bank

Juan Vega-Serrano to speak at Chatham House Illicit Financial Flows conference on 17 May 2017 in London

Juan Manuel Vega-Serrano

President, Financial Action Task Force

Rob Wainwright to speak at Chatham House Countering Terrorist Financing 2016 conference

Rob Wainwright

Director, Europol

Edna Young

Head of Financial Crime Operations, Financial Crime Authority


Western Union to sponsor Chatham House Countering Terrorist Financing 2016 conference

If you are interested in becoming a sponsor for this event please contact Ben Cumming on +44 (0) 20 7957 5729.     

Media partners

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If you are interested in becoming a media partner for this event please contact Amy Smith on +44 (0)20 7957 5755.


Chatham House
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Telephone: +44 (0)20 7314 2785
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If you wish to book the venue for your own event please phone +44 (0)20 7314 2764

The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus which is on the Piccadilly and the Bakerloo Underground lines. From Piccadilly follow Regent Street southwards towards Pall Mall and take the first road on the right called Jermyn Street. Duke of York Street is the second road on the left and leads to St James's Square. Chatham House is immediately on your right.


Although we cannot book accommodation for delegates, we have arranged a reduced rate at some nearby hotels, where you can book your own accommodation. Please inform the hotel that you will be attending a conference at Chatham House (The Royal Institute of International Affairs) to qualify for the Institute's reduced rate.

Please note all rates are subject to availability.

Flemings Mayfair
Half Moon Street
London - W1J 7BH

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7499 2964
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7499 1817

Standard Single from £195 + VAT

The Cavendish London
81 Jermyn Street
London - SW1Y 6JF

Tel: + 44 (0)20 7930 2111
Fax: + 44 (0)20 7839 2125

Standard Single £205 + VAT

Book The Cavendish online

The Stafford London 
St James's Place
London - SW1A 1NJ

Tel: 020 7518 1125
Fax: 020 7493 7121

Standard Single £235 +VAT

The Savoy London
London - WC2R 0EU

Tel: 020 7836 4343
Fax: 020 7240 6040 

Standard Single £250 +VAT

Press registration

This conference will be held under the Chatham House Rule. Information for journalists.

Press can request a press pass.