The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific recently released a report revealing the growing influence of casinos, junkets, and cryptocurrency in the underground banking and money laundering networks in East and Southeast Asia.
The study highlights the alarming increase in illegal online casinos, electronic junkets, and cryptocurrency exchanges in the region, coinciding with a rise in international crime rates. Organized crime groups are utilizing these platforms to move and launder substantial amounts of both state currency and cryptocurrencies.
Notably, the report also highlights the diversification of illegal online casino operators into cyberfraud and cryptocurrency laundering activities.
To effectively address this issue, the report recommends the implementation of measures such as increased knowledge, awareness, policy enforcement, capacity building, and coordination among governments.
Jeremy Douglas, the UNODC Regional Representative for South-East Asia and the Pacific, emphasizes the significant impact of unregulated online gambling platforms and cryptocurrency exchanges in facilitating underground banking and money laundering activities. This technological revolution has led to an expansion of the illicit economy, enabling faster anonymous transactions, commingling of funds, and providing new opportunities for organized crime, particularly in Southeast Asia and the Mekong region.