Enforcement against financial and economic crime in the European Union is about to get much tougher.
Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, announced Friday the launch of the newly created European Financial and Economic Crime Centre, with the aim of enhancing operational support to EU member states and EU bodies in the fields of financial and economic crime. The new EFECC, which will be staffed with 65 international experts and analysts, will forge alliances with public and private stakeholders “to trace, seize, and confiscate criminal assets in the EU and beyond,” Europol said. The EFECC will be at the center of a systematic multilateral approach to combat fraud against public and private finances, money laundering, asset recovery, corruption, and currency counterfeiting.
Creation of this new financial and economic crime center comes at a critical time. “The fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic has weakened our economy and created new vulnerabilities from which crime can emerge,” said Europol Executive Director Catherine De Bolle. “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 will also partner with the newly established European Public Prosecutor’s Office to promote and support financial investigations into crimes that affect the financial interests of the European Union. “Financial and economic crime harms us all and doesn’t stop at national borders—and it’s often a key activity of organized crime groups that we can uncover if we follow the money,” said Ylva Johansson, EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship. “With our new center, we’ll be better equipped to fight economic crime together.”
To complement the launch of the EFECC, Europol has released a strategic report providing an overview of “the most threatening phenomena in the area of economic and financial crime, including various types of fraud, the production and distribution of counterfeit goods, money laundering, and others.” It also discusses specific case examples.