On 15 and 16 November 2011, Europol, with the support of the European Commission, held a conference at its headquarters in The Hague to discuss law enforcement’s access to financial information within the European Union.
Swift access to financial information is required in an increasing number of investigations, across the entire range of criminal offences investigated by law enforcement agencies. Financial information is highly relevant as it provides important intelligence for the investigative process. It is required for both evidential purposes in court proceedings to secure prosecutions, and for the confiscation of criminal proceeds.
The meeting at Europol brought together financial investigation experts from all EU Member States and some third countries. This included experts in asset recovery, money laundering and other crime areas, representatives from international organisations like Interpol and the International Criminal Court and from the financial sector such as private banks and financial services authorities, as well as academics. The discussion centred on the accessibility of financial information for law enforcement purposes. A working group presented their findings on centralised bank account registers, together with several examples of best practice from those jurisdictions that already have effective national central bank account registers in place.
Within the framework of the EU Asset Recovery Offices Platform and the CARIN network, the Europol Criminal Asset Bureau is currently active in promoting the use of financial information to support investigations into serious international crime. Fast, effective access to international financial data is paramount to the success of this objective.