The sixth Global Focal Point Conference on Asset Recovery, hosted this year by India and running from 17th to 19th November, focuses on the role of bitcoin in cybercrime and, in particular, in illegal online trade. 

The event is organised by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Interpol and the World Bank - United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) StAR (Stolen Asset Recovery) Initiative.

Launched in 2009, the Interpol-StAR Global Focal Point Conference on Asset Recovery provides a platform for information exchange to investigators and prosecutors from 120 countries. Traditionally it has been focused on promoting the exchange of corruption data among anti-corruption institutions of different countries and on fighting financial crime through banking systems.

However, in view of the recent increase of bitcoin use in clandestine trade and shady deals, the technology is creating concerns for national and international investigative bodies. According to CBI spokesperson Devpreet Singh, bitcoin has evolved as digital currency and is now being used for facilitating the transfer of money for illicit deals across borders, with one bitcoin estimated to be around US$650 (sic!).

The conference aims to tackle asset seizing and to find ways of recovering stolen assets. The meeting was inaugurated by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who expressed his satisfaction with the results of the joint efforts of Interpol and Indian Bureau of Investigation: many financial criminals were arrested and extradited from the country.

Other subtopics to be discussed during the conference reportedly are: Evolving Common Approach to Combat Corruption Across Multiple Jurisdictions; Addressing Challenges in the Existing Anti-Corruption Legal Framework, and Best Practices in Anti-Corruption Efforts.

Anna Lavinskaya