Europol launches new economic crime centre
Europol has launched the new European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) to enhance the operational support provided to the EU Member States and EU bodies in the fields of financial and economic crime and promote the systematic use of financial investigations.
Economic and financial crimes are a highly complex and a significant threat affecting millions of individual EU citizens and thousands of companies in the EU every year. Money laundering and criminal finances are the engines of organised crime, without them criminals would not be able to make use of the illicit profits they generate with the various serious and organised crime activities carried out in the EU.
According to previous reports by Europol, 98.9 per cent of estimated criminal profits are not confiscated and remain at the disposal of criminals.
The current coronavirus pandemic in Europe has provided ample evidence that criminals are quick to adapt their criminal schemes to changing conditions to exploit fears and vulnerabilities. Economic stimuli such as those proposed in the wake of the pandemic will be targeted by criminals seeking to defraud public funding. To effectively disrupt and deter criminals involved in serious and organised crime, law enforcement authorities need to follow the money trail as a regular part of their criminal investigations with the objective of seizing criminal profits.
Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol, said: “The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has weakened our economy and created new vulnerabilities from which crime can emerge. Economic and financial crime, such as various types of fraud, money laundering, intellectual property crime, and currency counterfeiting, is particularly threatening during times of economic crisis. Unfortunately, this is also when they become most prevalent. The EFECC at Europol will strengthen Europol’s ability to support Member States’ and partner countries’ law enforcement authorities in fighting the criminals seeking to profit from economic hardship. EFECC will serve as a platform and toolbox for financial investigators across Europe. We look forward to making lasting partnerships with them and fighting economic and financial crime together.”