Europol creates European Financial and Economic Crime Centre as pandemic proves criminals are quick to adapt schemes to exploit fears
Europol has launched the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC). It will 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.
The new EFECC has been set up within the current organisational structure of Europol, which is already playing an important part in the European response to financial and economic crime. It will be staffed with 65 international experts and analysts.
In a statement, Europol said: ‘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.
'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.’
According to Europol, the Covid-19 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 Covid-19 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,’ Europol said.
A strategic report published by Europol provides 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.
The EFECC is modelled along the lines of similar initiatives such as the European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) the European Counter Terrorism Centre (ECTC), the European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) and the European Serious Organised Crime Centre (ESOCC) hosted at Europol.