Eurojust leads efforts to step up judicial response to money laundering and asset recovery

26 June 2024|NEWS

Eurojust hosted the second meeting of high-level experts on money laundering and asset recovery on 20 and 21 June. The meeting builds on the recommendations of the first ever Eurojust meeting on money laundering and asset recovery organised by Eurojust last year and brought together experts to advance a joint approach to fight money laundering and improve asset recovery.

Group picture The second Eurojust Meeting on Money Laundering and Asset Recovery brought together dedicated prosecutors specialised in asset recovery and tackling money laundering from the European Union and countries with liaison prosecutors at Eurojust. Other participants included the European Commission (DG FISMA, DG HOME, DG JUST, and DG ECFIN), Europol, EPPO, EJN, CARIN network, INTERPOL, the Council of Europe (MONEYVAL), as well as representatives from Asset Recovery Offices and Asset Management Offices.

Eurojust Vice-President Margarita Sniutyte-Daugeliene stated in her opening remarks: In 2023 alone, Eurojust’s assistance in the fight against organised crime led to seizing or freezing of EUR 1.1 billion. Money laundering remains in the top three of crime types Eurojust deals with every year. Fighting money laundering and recovering assets will therefore remain a top priority, and in months to come Eurojust will offer further means for closer cooperation between the judiciary, law enforcement and other actors involved across the European Union.

The meeting was an opportunity for participants to share experiences in relation to matters such as money laundering as a service, the misuse of Hawala (a type of informal money or value transfer service often used by criminals to launder money) and underground banking, and misuse of cryptocurrencies as money laundering schemes, issues related to predicate office. Participants also shared experiences in relation to asset recovery matters such as restitution and compensation of victims, asset sharing and disposal, exceptional costs and non-conviction based confiscation. Eurojust’s support on these cases was highlighted throughout the presentations. Participants highlighted the importance of increasing cooperation in this field.

Participants confirmed their strong support to the set up of a dedicated Judicial Focus Group on Money Laundering and Asset Recovery, organised by Eurojust, and discussed possible mandate and tasks of the Judicial Focus Group. The Judicial Focus Group would be composed of prosecutors or judges who would represent a multidisciplinary hub of experts at national level involved in the investigation and prosecution of money laundering and asset recovery, such as asset recovery offices, asset management offices, law enforcement, financial intelligence units, financial accountants, crypto experts. The Focus Group would give judicial authorities guidance on specific matters such as post-conviction financial investigations, exceptional costs concerning the execution of freezing and confiscation orders, and guidance on restitution to or compensation of victims. Eurojust is uniquely placed to bridge the gap between the national hubs by creating this international platform represented by the judiciary.

Money laundering and asset recovery are a high priority on the EU agenda. Since the last expert meeting in June 2023, a number of legislative proposals have been adopted, including the Directive on Asset Recovery and Confiscation, the Directive on the Violation of Union of restrictive measures and on the Anti-Money laundering package.