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Europol and Institute of International Finance launch forum to mitigate financial crime threat

by Brian Sims
Europol's headquarters in The Hague

Europol’s headquarters in The Hague

At Europol’s headquarters in The Hague, Europol and the Institute of International Finance (IIF) have launched a high-level forum involving the law enforcement and banking sectors to improve the interconnection between these two worlds in mitigating the threats posed by financial crime, money laundering, terrorist financing and cyber crime. Leading global financial services institutions have joined the forum and attended the inaugural meeting.

Disrupting money laundering schemes will significantly reduce the ability of organised crime gangs to grow their businesses and expand into new markets. It will also help in bringing serious criminals to justice and protect the systemic integrity of the financial sector and the global economy as a whole.

Great progress has been made in recent years in terms of regulatory reform, ensuring that banks report suspicious activity to law enforcement. The compliance regime across the sector is well-resourced and managed, but its strategic impact in preventing or reducing levels of money laundering remains low. This is partly due to fragmented information sharing arrangements across borders and between banks and law enforcement agencies.

Leveraging their respective capabilities to co-ordinate influence and action within the law enforcement and banking sectors, Europol and the IIF have joined forces to identify means by which to improve levels of co-operation. Supported by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and national regulators, they will also identify opportunities for improvements in the regulatory regime.

Fighting criminal threats

Europol’s executive director Rob Wainwright explained: “Europol is committed to helping the law enforcement and banking communities fight growing criminal threats to the systemic integrity of the global economy. Confronting financial crime and cyber crime requires enhanced levels of co-operation between our two communities and a more integrated response to the criminal threats involved. There’s significant scope for improvement in our collective action and Europol is determined to play its part in delivering a better impact.”

Tim Adams, president and CEO of the IIF, added: “The global financial services industry is committed to combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system. Leveraging technological innovation has helped improve the ability of financial institutions to fight bad actors, but more needs to be done. It’s critical for the industry, regulators and law enforcement to continue to work together on improving information sharing and response mechanisms and ensuring illicit activity can be minimised. The private sector values taking a constructive role in this process, and we look forward to further collaboration with Europol, the FATF and other authorities in order to find common solutions to the challenges we collectively face.”

At the inaugural meeting, Europol briefed senior banking representatives present on the latest criminal trends concerning financial crime and cyber crime, including evidence of convergence between the two. Among those topics discussed were recent global ransomware attacks (including WannaCry and Petya).

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