Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3), in particular the Europol Forensics Laboratory, has been accredited against the criteria of the International Standard ISO/IEC 17020 for the forensic examination of banknotes, thus complying with the requirements for the competence of an Inspection Body and the professional judgment of its inspectors to undertake forensic examinations. This achievement is in line with Europol’s goal to strengthen its position as a platform for forensic expertise.
The certificate of accreditation was handed over to the Director of Europol by Jan van der Poel, Chief Executive of the Raad van Accreditatie, which is the Dutch national accreditation body. Europol views this accreditation as a willingness to open its doors to external auditors who can objectively assess the agency’s impartiality, competence and expertise in the field of forensic examinations.
Europol is the EU’s central hub for combating euro counterfeiting, in particular the identification of printing methods, together with the analysis and comparison of genuine and counterfeit samples. The agency provides EU Member States with forensic support to determine the origin of materials and devices employed for the production of forged currency, as well as with expert support and training on how to protect the euro from counterfeiting.
The accreditation is evidence of the dedication, expertise and competence of the forensic unit working at Europol in accordance with international standards for Inspection Bodies. In addition, the accreditation will enable Europol to reinforce its position within the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI) and the Law Enforcement Advisory Group (LEAG) of the Central Banks Counterfeit Deterrence Group (CBCDG).
In 2016 alone, Europol supported 31 investigations targeting criminal networks involved in euro currency counterfeiting. One of the most active counterfeit euro vendors online was recently dismantled in an operation supported by Europol. The investigation uncovered that the vendor was selling counterfeit euro banknotes in different denominations (20, 50 and 100) through the Darknet for around 30% of their face value. The criminal ring received an estimated EUR 160 000 in Bitcoins in exchange for the counterfeit euro banknotes.