The world’s international money laundering watchdog has warned that the global food trade can be a haven for criminals moving their illicit funds to legitimate bank accounts.

A case study released by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has revealed how an unnamed food product trading company, in an offshore financial centre, received revenue from so-called ‘blood diamonds’, mined by forced labour. These payments were mixed with legitimate food profits, from trading with African food companies, and then transferred to the personal account of its Belgian manager, who wired them to “several foreign companies”.

FATF said the case showed how food companies can be abused to create “additional complexity” to money laundering trails. The implications of this could be far-reaching, with the possibility of increased regulation of financial affairs and heightened transparency imposed on the industry.