Frequently Asked Questions

This tool has been created by the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI). RUSI is an independent research institute based in London, UK. It is not affiliated with the UK or any other government and is mostly funded on a per-project basis by public- and private-sector donors.

RUSI is a registered charity overseen by the Charity Commission for England and Wales and is committed to values of impartiality and non-partisanship.

The tool was developed by RUSI between April 2020 and March 2021. It draws on RUSI’s analysis of factors that can render FTZs vulnerable to criminal exploitation, which involved open-source research, workshops in Morocco and Panama and 74 expert interviews. The project team’s analysis was validated at two meetings of the project’s Advisory Board, which included subject-matter experts from banking, shipping, policymaking and academia. In particular, the project team wishes to thank Stefano Betti, David Luna and Jeff Nielsen, as well as those members of the advisory board who chose to remain anonymous. Prior to launch, the tool was further subjected to a series of stress-testing sessions with intended users.
Some widely used financial crime risk assessment methodologies, such as the one developed by the International Monetary Fund, are based on assessing the risk as a function of likelihood and consequence of an event. Likelihood itself is assessed as a function of vulnerability and threat. To effectively apply such a methodology more data is necessary than is typically available in the context of an FTZ, which would make its application in this tool unfeasible.
This will depend on your familiarity with the FTZ you are assessing and the availability of information. There is a significant element of independent research involved. In general, you can expect to spend between 1 and 2 hours per FTZ, which is a worthwhile investment of your time if your organisation conducts significant amounts of business in an FTZ.
The development of this tool has been funded by PMI Impact, an anti-illicit trade funding initiative of Philip Morris International.
This could be because we did not think of it. Please email any suggestions for the improvement of the tool at
No, but we think users of the tool may find them helpful in forming their own view of FTZ-related risks.
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