Shoring up Palau’s security against nontraditional threats
A U.S. interagency group representing the Department of Defense (DOD), Department of Justice (DOJ), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Treasury Department in late June 2019 concluded a bilateral engagement in Palau designed to assist the Pacific island nation’s law enforcement and regulatory bodies to identify, investigate and prosecute financial crimes.
The three-day program focused on key challenges facing Palau, including money laundering, cyber crimes, cryptocurrency, human trafficking, public corruption and malign foreign influence. In addition to group discussions with Palauan officials representing multiple agencies, the interagency group held one-on-one sessions with several investigative offices to discuss case-related issues, investigative techniques and views on trends in criminal activities in the country.
Palauan Vice President Raynold B. Oilouch delivered opening remarks highlighting the timeliness and significance of the program. At the conclusion of the event, Palau’s director of Financial Intelligence Unit stated, “The U.S. interagency engagement on combating financial crimes was a successful and enlightening workshop that exposed Palau’s law enforcement agencies to the realities we face in both cyber threats and traditional financial crimes. The presenters shared valuable tools and techniques to combat these crimes and educated us on what we can anticipate on the horizon. Palau is most grateful to the combined presenters from the FBI, DOJ, Treasury, and DOD. We look forward to further joint engagements in the near future.”
(Pictured: Palauan Vice President Raynold B. Oilouch boards the U.S. Navy ship Brunswick during the Pacific Partnership 2018 Palau closing ceremony in April 2018.)
Much work remains in strengthening Palau’s capacity to combat financial crimes, especially stemming from looming cyber crimes, now that high-speed internet is widely available in the country. Similar to many Pacific island nations, Palau is under pressure from transnational organized crime, a primary source for human trafficking and other illicit activity.
Meanwhile, some progress has been made in support of Palau’s law enforcement. A recent FBI forensic laboratory support led to the closure of a missing person’s case (http://islandtimes.us/fbis-dna-analysis-bares-bones-found-last-year-belong-to-missing-woman/) in Palau. The interagency group hopes to build on this modest achievement and the recent engagement to develop durable, long-term programs for Palau in fiscal year 2020 and beyond aimed at improving investigations of human trafficking, supervision of financial institutions and awareness of emerging risks posed by transnational criminal activities.