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Regional conference on use of AML/CFT in Investigation of Art & Antiquities Criminality in Mexico

9 May 2023 - 11 May 2023



9 May 2023
11 May 2023
Event Category:


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Mexico City, May 9, 2023.- Representatives from 18 Latin American countries are participating in the Regional Conference “The use of Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT) in the investigation of Art and Antiquities Criminality”, organised by the EU AML/CFT Global Facility in collaboration with the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of Mexico and the Financial Action Task Force for Latin America (GAFILAT).

The Conference aims to strengthen the capacity of the public and private sectors to share information, exchange best practices, identify problems and create solutions to this type of crime. It also aims to raise awareness of this phenomenon among all stakeholders in order to reduce and counter money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) in these lucrative markets and protect a country’s heritage.

The three-day regional event opened at Mexico’s National Museum of Anthropology with 120 high-level participants from Latin America and the Caribbean, the European Union and international organisations such as UNESCO, Interpol and the World Customs Organization, among others.

During her participation, the Minister of Culture, Alejandra Frausto Guerrero, stressed the importance of inter-institutional collaboration to stop the trafficking of heritage assets, and offered her support to advance this objective. “We are talking not only about a legal issue, but also about a human rights issue. Culture is based on cultural rights, on the rights to identity, on the rights of those peoples and communities that have historically been plundered by decades of plundering, of marginalisation, and are those places where the greatest cultural wealth is preserved”.

The head of the country’s cultural policy commented on the actions that have been put in place, for example, the Inter-institutional Commission of the Mexican Government to work on the issue and seek the repatriation of pieces that are outside the country, as well as the campaign #MiPatrimonioNoSeVende, to stop auctions that occur outside the national territory, which has allowed the return to Mexico of more than 11,500 pieces.

The Head of the Financial Intelligence Unit, Pablo Gómez Álvarez, referred to the strategic role of the Financial Intelligence Unit in the identification and tracking of illicit trafficking of cultural property in Mexico related to money laundering. He also pointed out the importance of strengthening inter-institutional coordination and international cooperation in order to prevent and combat this phenomenon more effectively.

Gómez Álvarez highlighted the efforts made by the FIU and the Mexican authorities that make up the national AML/CFT system to identify, prevent and mitigate those emerging risks identified in the commission of these crimes, and emphasised the relevance and usefulness of efficient and timely information exchange channels.

This event, the second in a series of four regional conferences to be organised in 2024, will consist of a series of presentations by international experts on AML/CFT and illicit art trafficking, as well as case studies examining the routes and methods used by criminal networks involved in the looting or theft of antiquities and works of art.

GAFILAT Executive Secretary Esteban Fullin highlighted the fact that “the market for art, antiquities and other cultural objects has attracted organised criminal groups and terrorists to launder the proceeds of their crime and finance their activities. There are risks associated with these markets and many countries do not have sufficient understanding of these risks.” 

“Criminals seek to exploit the sector’s history of privacy, which, coupled with a lack of awareness, results in a lack of resources, expertise and experience to investigate and prosecute these crimes both domestically and internationally,” he pointed out. He acknowledged that the issue of art trafficking and money laundering has been little explored, when it is a threat, a precedent crime that generates illicit profits, hence the importance of the regional conference. “That’s also why I think we can learn a little bit from what the Mexican Ministry of Culture and the Mexican FIU can bring to us,” she said.

In his welcome address, David Hotte, Team Leader of the EU Global Facility, highlighted the innovative nature of the conference series, which “addresses the intrinsically complex issue of the looting and art trafficking conflict from a very comprehensive perspective”. “Managing to bring together investigators, prosecutors, Financial Intelligence Unit officials and members of the public and private sectors around the same table is a great success and the first step towards a stronger and more effective response to prevent the penetration of ML/TF in these lucrative markets, ultimately protecting countries’ assets”.

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