Eurojust has organised the first-ever major meeting of high-level experts on Money Laundering and Asset Recovery, at its premises in The Hague on 19 and 20 June. The aim of the meeting was to gather the broadest group of specialists to develop a common approach to take on the increasing crime of money laundering and to improve asset recovery.
The meeting brought together dedicated prosecutors specialised in asset recovery and tackling money laundering from the European Union and countries with liaison prosecutors at Eurojust. Furthermore, representatives of the European Commission, other EU Agencies and bodies, the Financial Action Task Force, the CARIN Network, Interpol and other law enforcement agencies participated. Experts in cryptocurrencies also participated, as well as representatives of Financial Intelligence Units and the Egmont Group, which provides support to them.
Eurojust President Mr Ladislav Hamran stated:
Organised crime groups have developed a multitude of methods to launder illegal proceeds and hide their criminally gained assets. Tackling money laundering at the source and depriving criminals of their assets is therefore an essential part of the fight against cross-border organised crime. For this reason, I very much welcome this broad gathering of experts at Eurojust, which will allow us to strengthen and even better coordinate our efforts in this field.
Experts informed each other of lessons learned from money-laundering investigations and prosecutions and discussed the various legal challenges and best practices regarding the recovery of criminal assets, notably in view of the Regulation on Mutual Recognition of Freezing and Confiscation Orders and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK.
Discussions were timely in the context of the current European Commission proposals in the field of Money Laundering, Asset Recovery and violation of Union restrictive measures. Special attention was paid to the dimension of cryptocurrencies in the field of asset recovery and money laundering. Participants underlined the importance to have common approaches and to exchange experiences regularly.
In view of this, participants expressed strong support to set up a dedicated Focus Group on Money Laundering and Asset Recovery organised by Eurojust. The aim of this group would be to increase national and cross-border inter-institutional cooperation between the judiciary, law enforcement and other actors involved in the fight against money laundering and the recovery of criminally gained assets, in order to increase efficiency.
In the margins of the meeting, United States Attorney General Merrick B. Garland expressed his support for the shared goal of the European Union and the United States to fight organised crime by countering money laundering and recovering the proceeds of crime.
Money laundering is one of the top three crime types for which national authorities ask for cross-border judicial cooperation via Eurojust. Last year, the Agency handled a total of 1 882 cases regarding money laundering, of which 690 were opened in 2022. Money laundering, however, is often combined with other large-scale organised criminal activities, such as drug trafficking, human trafficking and migrant smuggling.