Organised criminal activity is profit-driven. The introduction of illegally obtained assets into the legal financial and economic cycle aims to provide criminals with explainable and seemingly legal resources that make it increasingly difficult to trace them back to their true source.
The effective prosecution of money launderers, including the recovery of illegally obtained assets, contributes significantly to successfully combating organised crime. As profits are taken away from perpetrators, crime becomes less attractive. At the same time, decisive action against money laundering prevents assets from being used to commit further criminal offences.
In 2020, nearly 600 cases and 64 JITs supported by Eurojust involved money laundering, leading to the organisation of 101 coordination meetings and 7 joint action days as well as the corresponding creation of coordination centres.
Key operational results included:
the dismantling of a criminal network in Italy and Romania responsible for large-scale financial fraud, cybercrime and money laundering. In July 2020, judicial authorities and police in Italy and Romania arrested 12 suspects, including the two leaders of the OCG that committed financial fraud and various forms of cyber scam. The criminals were tricking victims across Europe into making wire transfers to Italian bank accounts, owned by entities used as ‘money mules’ to launder the illicit profits estimated to be over EUR 20 million.
the unveiling of a money laundering scheme associated with an EU-funded railway infrastructure project in Romania in July 2020 by a JIT involving the Belgian and Romanian authorities. The JIT was set up with the support of Eurojust and the participation of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Four people (two of Romanian origin and two Italians) were charged with money laundering, influence peddling and tax evasion; various assets were seized and bank accounts were frozen.