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Financial and economic crimes are today the leading threats that are affecting millions of EU citizens as well as companies. The increasing number of organized financial crimes such as money laundering and funding of terrorist activities accelerate the criminals to make illicit profits. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the fraudulent activities are sky rising in Europe by the bad actors. Law enforcement agencies are effectively all active in following the money trials and consider it an integral part of criminal investigation procedures.
Europol has launched the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC). The center aims at promoting systematic and advanced financial investigations. EFECC provides operational support for the EU bodies and the Member States in the fields of both economic and financial crime. Europol’s strategic report was published on June 5 and it provides a comprehensive overview regarding threatening crimes in the financial sector. The innovative fraudulent tricks are employed by financial crimes to exploit the vulnerabilities and fears in the financial system.
EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Ylva Johansson said:
“The center we are launching today will help step up financial investigations across the EU. 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. With our new center, we’ll be better equipped to fight economic crime together.”
About 58% of customers in the EU use digital banking solutions such as applications and websites to carry out mobile banking. The customers who lack technical knowledge become victim to vulnerabilities and a variety of cyberattacks. The increasing number of financial crimes, credit card frauds, phishing/vishing, and other online payment scams call out for stringent regulatory framework to curb them. The innovative tricks of bad actors require innovative ways to fight back. Weakened KYC (Know Your Customers) regimes are the reason behind an array of banking frauds.
The report of Europol highlights the list of all possible ways to curb financial crimes including fraud, money laundering, and property crime. The CEO of the European Banking Federation (EBF), Wim Mijs said he is extremely pleased that financial and economic crime can now be curbed by a completely dedicated center within Europol.
“Financial crime undermines the stability of the banking sector and is a serious threat to the whole society. The fight against dirty money aims to cut off resources to organized crime gangs and terrorists and is hence of the utmost importance. At the forefront of this fight, EBF is a trusted partner of Europol and therefore very much welcomes that this cooperation will now benefit from the support of an even more adequate structure and resources”
Institute of International Finance (IIF) president and CEO Tim Adams said:
“The creation of the European Economic and Financial Crime Centre (EFECC) at Europol is a critical step to counter the threats posed by illicit flows through the international financial system. The IIF, and the industry broadly, has called for an intelligence-led approach to financial crime, and meaningful initiatives like EFECC are essential to improving outcomes. I urge policymakers to continue their focus on improving effectiveness in the fight against criminal financial activity in partnership with the private sector, as the impacts of a financial crime constitute a grave threat to society as a whole.”
The aim of EFECC is to establish a stringent framework that could increase financial intelligence for the EU. Being a partner of European Prosecutor’s Office, EFECC supports and promotes the financial investigations to mitigate the illicit fund’s transfers, money laundering activities, and high-scale financial crimes that are disguised. The interaction with national law enforcement agencies can help curb the increasing financial crimes in a collaborative manner.
Pandemic is challenging for every industry around the world. It is blowing up the environment of economic and financial crimes which is ultimately affecting the legitimacy of the global financial system. EFECC amid the COVID-19 crisis aims at reducing the increasing financial frauds due to rapid digital business transformation.