Europol says crime prof­its are slip­ping through

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Greece is 18th in the Euro­pean Union in terms of sus­pect money trans­ac­tions, ac­cord­ing to the re­sults of a study by Europol, the Euro­pean Union’s Agency for Law En­force­ment Co­op­er­a­tion.

Greece ranked be­hind the United King­dom and the Nether­lands, where 65 per­cent of so-called sus­pect trans­ac­tions in the EU were recorded.

The re­sults of the study, which was re­leased last week, have prompted Europol to call for tighter con­trols and bet­ter co­op­er­a­tion among EU mem­ber states.

Sus­pect cases, the re­port said, rose to al­most a mil­lion by 2014. How­ever, less than 1 per­cent of these cases re­lated to the fund­ing of ter­ror­ism, which is the main fo­cus of Euro­pean se­cu­rity au­thor­i­ties.

Europol said that the Is­lamic State ter­ror­ists who car­ried out the deadly at­tacks in Paris in 2015 had fi­nanced their oper­a­tions with pre-paid cards, which they used to le­gal­ize rev­enues from crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties.

More­over, the study re­vealed that only a tiny amount of the pro­ceeds of or­ga­nized crime groups have been con­fis­cated by na­tional au­thor­i­ties across the bloc.

In its anal­y­sis of the sta­tis­tics com­piled by na­tional au­thor­i­ties in the EU – from 2006 un­til 2014, the lat­est year for which data is avail­able – Europol re­vealed that po­lice au­thor­i­ties have con­fis­cated just 1 per­cent of crim­i­nal pro­ceeds in the bloc.

The same re­port said that “sus­pect” money trans­ac­tions cor­re­spond to 0.7 per­cent of the EU’s an­nual gross do­mes­tic prod­uct.

Com­ment­ing on the re­port’s re­sults, Europol Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor Rob Wain­wright high­lighted the fact that the mech­a­nisms for mon­i­tor­ing money laun­der­ing op­er­ate on a na­tional level, whereas the prob­lem has in­ter­na­tional char­ac­ter­is­tics.

More­over, only one in 10 trans­ac­tions that are la­beled as “sus­pi­cious” are in­ves­ti­gated by na­tional au­thor­i­ties in the EU, and Europol is urg­ing banks to fa­cil­i­tate law en­force­ment au­thor­i­ties.

“The most sur­pris­ing thing is the con­sis­tent fig­ure of 10 per­cent ... in­ves­ti­gated by po­lice,” Wain­wright said, adding that more had to be done.

He ex­plained that most of the laun­der­ing is pow­ered by the drugs trade and that the num­ber of pro­fes­sional money laun­der­ing syn­di­cates has risen.

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