sábado, junio 15

More than a thousand arrests worldwide after anti-money laundering operation led by the Netherlands

One of the largest police operations against money laundering globally has been carried out for several months and has delivered spectacular results, detailed by the European criminal police agency Europol, Monday December 4. The operation, led by the Netherlands and involving 25 other countries on several continents, was organized in collaboration with some 2,800 banking institutions, companies such as Western Union, Tripadvisor and IT companies, as well as Interpol and Eurojust, the judicial cooperation unit of the Twenty-Seven.

Some 4,600 investigations launched in Europe, the United States, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Latin America have identified 474 members of criminal groups who recruited more than ten thousand «financial mules», people who transferred money, either in cash or digitally, in exchange for a commission. Part of the operations uncovered consisted of money transfers from one country to another. In other cases, “mules” traveling under false identities opened accounts abroad.

The most used technique, however, remained that of “smurfing” or “restructuring”. It involves depositing small amounts of cash into bank accounts held by different people and of a modest amount, so as not to attract attention.

Ever more sophisticated techniques

In total, the police and judicial services mobilized since June have identified 10,736 fraudulent transactions and 1,013 individuals have been apprehended. According to Europol, around 100 million euros were laundered in a few months by the suspects but the operation made it possible to avoid the concealment of 32 million funds. An amount to be compared to estimates of the overall amount of money laundering in Europe, estimated at some 200 billion euros.

Called EMMA9 (for European money mule action), this ninth operation of this kind confirmed the growth and sophistication of the techniques used by criminals to launder dirty money.

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Investigators discovered that Ukrainian refugees had become new targets for recruiters who tried to exploit their vulnerability by forcing them to open bank accounts. Elderly people are also primarily targeted by criminal groups, who do not hesitate to threaten them directly to obtain their identity papers and signature.

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