Europol hosts 3rd Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies

08 March 2019
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Ensuring an environment in which crime does not pay

This week, over 230 participants from over 60 different countries convened at Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, the Netherlands, for the 3rd Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies. The participants comprised representatives from law enforcement and judicial authorities, Financial Intelligence Units (FIU), international organisations as well as representatives from the private sector.

An initiative of the Working Group on cryptocurrencies and money laundering established in 2016 by Europol, INTERPOL and the Basel Institute on Governance, this conference focused on discussing the vulnerabilities and threats in cryptocurrencies leading to their misuse for money laundering and terrorism financing purposes. The event zeroed down not only on the threats but also on the innovations, solutions, tools, and building coalitions to combat these threats.

The first day was open for participation from the private sector. The potential and solutions of the blockchain analysis to combat the criminal use of cryptocurrencies and other distributed ledger technologies were presented. This sector is expanding exponentially: while money launderers explore new ways to obscure the direct link with the proceeds of their crimes, private companies develop new solutions to follow these transactions, helping law enforcement in their investigations.

The second day, restricted to public sector involved in this phenomenon saw investigators from different countries presenting and discussing case studies, sharing knowledge, experience, identified modi operandi and best practices on how to target the criminal abuse of virtual assets.

The speakers reinforced the message that in cryptocurrencies-related investigations, following the financial trail albeit not appearing the traditional format is still a financial investigation – a successful approach leading to the identification of the perpetrators. Another important message was that virtual assets are exactly this – assets and as such, considering their criminal nature should be traced, seized and confiscated.

The conference provided an excellent platform, to discuss and learn from recent developments and the current state of play in legal, technical, and investigate methods perspective.

The event was closed by Europol’s Deputy Executive Director Operations, Wil van Gemert, who urged the participants to be bold and proactive, to build coalitions and become the respected gatekeepers ensuring an environment in which crime does not pay.