Colombia, U.S. create finance database

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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In a continuing effort to combat money laundering and other financial crimes, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are working with Colombia's customs service officials to develop a joint database to exchange trade and financial information.

Agents from ICE, which is part of the Homeland Security Department, are helping Colombia's National Tax and Customs Directorate, or DIAN, to develop a Trade Transparency Unit.

Officials from both agencies are developing an unprecedented joint database to exchange trade and financial information, according to an ICE press release. ICE agents also recently delivered 215 computers and other equipment to DIAN in that effort.

Developers are working on the database in conjunction with Colombia's information technology consolidation and modernization project, Project MUISCA, to upgrade the government's financial infrastructure.

Sharing information through this database will help agencies enhance their efforts to identify money laundering rings operating in both nations, according to the release.

"Trade-based money laundering is an enormous problem that few people understand," Steve Hayward, ICE attaché in Colombia, said in the press release. "Thankfully, the government of Colombia has recognized this threat for many years and remains committed to addressing it."

Government agents from both countries have worked for years to stem the tide of money laundering and other financial crimes.

The effort is part of the controversial Plan Colombia, a larger, multiyear, multibillion dollar campaign to help the South American country eradicate illegal drug crops and drug trafficking and fight contraband smuggling, tax evasion and other crimes.

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