The new unit will seek to support cooperation among EU law enforcement authorities, step up financial investigations, and cut off organised crime groups from their funding.
Europol on Friday (5 June) launched the new European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC), a new unit tasked with enhancing the operational support provided to the EU Member States and EU bodies in the fields of financial and economic crime, while also promoting 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,” Europol said in a statement.
“In addition: 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.”
Europol has previously estimated that up to 98.9 percent of criminal profits are not confiscated and remain at the disposal of criminals. This highlights the need for law enforcement authorities to follow the money trail as a regular part of their criminal investigations – with the objective of seizing criminal profits.
“The exponential increase of financial and economic crime and the involvement of organised crime on a large scale, together with the number of requests for operational support from EU Member States, called for an adequate and coordinated European response,” Europol said.
The EFECC will support cooperation among law enforcement authorities in their fight against fraud, money laundering, corruption, intellectual property crime and counterfeiting, while systematically promoting the recovery of criminal assets across the EU and beyond.
Staffed with 65 international experts and analysts, and set up within Europol’s current organisational structure, the EFECC will seek to step up financial investigations across the EU, with the aim of identifying and cutting off funding sources from organised crime groups.
Coinciding with the EFECC’s launch, Europol has released a strategic report, providing an overview of the greatest economic and financial crime threats – including various types of fraud, the production and distribution of counterfeit goods, money laundering and others.
The report is available here.