Last week, from 28 to 29 August, a delegation from the State Police Economic Crime Combatting Department (ECCD) 1st Division, consisting of senior investigators and operational employees, visited the headquarters of Europol and Eurojust as part of the experience exchange visit. The objectives of the visit were to improve knowledge of the structures, mandates, cooperation platforms and opportunities of these organizations for law enforcement authorities, thus improving the fight against financial and economic crime, the effectiveness of prevention and strengthening the investigative capacity. The visit was made possible thanks to the financial support and opportunities provided by the project “Support to the State Police for Acceleration and Quality Improvement of Investigation of Economic Crimes in Latvia”.
Europol and Eurojust are key participants in the European Union’s internal security system and play an essential role in supporting and strengthening cooperation between European Union Member States in criminal investigations. The agencies have complementary functions and competences, facilitated by their respective mandates. Close cooperation between the two agencies is essential to effectively assist State authorities in the fight against serious and organized crime and terrorism, from the initial police investigation stage to the judicial phase. There is continuity between the police cooperation function of Europol and the judicial coordination work carried out by Eurojust. The judiciary builds on law enforcement investigations by transforming the collection and analysis of criminal information into forensic evidence, thereby facilitating the formulation of criminal charges.
Eurojust and Europol work closely together to strengthen understanding of serious and organized crime and to develop joint solutions to emerging cross-border crime trends, including terrorism and cybercrime. As part of these joint efforts, the agencies regularly produce and disseminate joint publications on topics such as encryption or cybercrime.
The two agencies cooperate closely on strategic issues of common interest, such as e-evidence and asset recovery. Eurojust also regularly contributes to the preparation of the main strategic products of Europol, the European Union Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment (EU SOCTA), the Terrorism Situation and Trend Report (TE-SAT) and the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA). Europol and Eurojust also cooperate on innovation and research, identifying new technologies and tools to assist law enforcement and judicial authorities.
During the visit to Europol, the State Police delegation had the opportunity to meet and talk with representatives of the Latvian Liaison Officers’ Office at Europol, the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC), the European Serious and Organized Crime Centre (ESOCC) and AP APATE.
The creation of such centres is a response of Europol to the growing threats to the economy and the integrity of our financial systems. These threats include money laundering, corruption, widespread counterfeiting, fraud and tax evasion schemes targeting individuals, countries and companies. The purpose of these centres is to provide operational and analytical support to Europol partners and Member States in their investigations of financial/economic and other serious crimes, to support Europol partners and Member States in their efforts to trace, identify, freeze and confiscate the proceeds of crime, and to provide strategic support and liaise with key relevant public and private stakeholders. In addition, support also includes criminal intelligence analysis, provision of specific expertise, real-time information exchange. Support also takes into account the prioritization of cases, focusing on the priority cases and high-value target investigations of Member States, focusing on individuals and poly-criminal networks that pose the greatest risk of serious and organized crime in the European Union. In addition to the previous objectives, the objectives of the Centres also include support to the European Union policy cycle through the implementation of EMPACT priorities and the strategic intelligence picture on serious and organized crime.
During the meeting, the current trends, challenges, cooperation opportunities, practical approaches, innovative methods and tactics in combating and preventing money laundering (ML) were discussed. Areas of cooperation, current modus operandi, innovations that contribute to the identification and detection of these types of crimes have been discussed with representatives of AP Apate, whose work focuses in particular on combating CEO fraud, as well as supporting the investigation of other types of complex international fraud schemes, including investment fraud, pyramid fraud, Microsoft fraud, Ponzi schemes, acquisition fraud, counterfeit invoice fraud and bulk mail fraud.
During the visit to Eurojust, meetings were held with representatives of the Eurojust National Contact Point, the JIT Secretariat, the European Judicial Cooperation Network, as well as with the Judicial Cooperation Adviser from the Case Unit of the Operations Department. During the meeting, discussions were held on the lines of activities of Eurojust, support tools, strategic approaches, as well as on the possibilities of setting up joint investigation teams, funding possibilities to support investigations and the use of a coordination centre during joint operations.
During the meetings at Europol and Eurojust, ECCD 1st Division also presented its mission, vision, strategy, functions, activities, cooperation with other public administrations and law enforcement agencies, gave an overview of the investigative lines of inquiry, methods and techniques used in investigations, and shared its experience on trends, challenges and possible solutions in the field of combating AML/CFT.
The knowledge and experience gained during the visit will enhance the skills and capacity of investigators and operatives in investigating and combating AML, increase their ability to effectively investigate criminal proceedings, and apply the most effective international instruments to the situation. In addition, the acquisition of new skills and knowledge will enable other employees to improve their investigative capacity and skills and to pass on this experience to other colleagues.
The visit took place within the framework of the European Economic area grant 2014-2021 programme “International Police Cooperation and Combating Crime” project No.EEZ/VP/2020/1 “Support to the State Police for increasing effectiveness and quality of economic crime investigation in Latvia”(more information: www.eeagrants.lv).