MANILA, Philippines – U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Philippine Bureau of Customs (BOC) signed a letter of intent to establish a trade transparency unit in Manila to exchange information and promote the detection of trade-based money laundering and commercial fraud violations.
The U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas Jr. hosted the June 20 signing ceremony and Deputy Chief of Mission Brian L. Goldbeck also attended.
HSI will provide the Philippine BOC with access to the Data Analysis and Research for Trade Transparency System, an HSI computer system that contains domestic and foreign trade data and allows users to see both sides of the trade transaction, making the transaction transparent. This access will provide both HSI and BOC the tools necessary to identify international trade anomalies and financial irregularities indicative of trade-based money laundering, customs fraud, movement of counterfeit goods and other import-export crimes. A recent study by the Financial Action Task Force and the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering indicated that trade-based money laundering is a problem for many of the group’s jurisdictions and has serious significance as an avenue to launder proceeds of crime.
This signing ceremony was held in Thomas’ office at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. David A. Thompson, deputy director of HSI’s Office of International Affairs, and Joseph A. Gallion, deputy assistant director for HSI’s Financial, Narcotics and Special Operations Division, signed the agreement on behalf of HSI. Commissioner Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon signed the agreement on behalf of the Philippine government.
"This agreement sets the premise for stronger cooperation, coordination and information exchange between the United States and the Philippines," said Gallion.
"This trade transparency unit partnership provides HSI with another ally to further advance and improve trade- based money laundering investigations and other related crimes, as well as further promote our international cooperative efforts in the Asia-Pacific region," said Thompson.
The Philippines is HSI’s 10th foreign trade transparency unit partner.