Almost 70% of criminal groups in EU use money laundering: Europol

EU’s law enforcement agency publishes its first-ever assessment of financial, economic crimes in bloc, shines light on multi-billion underground economy

Giovanni Legorano  | 11.09.2023 - Update : 12.09.2023
Almost 70% of criminal groups in EU use money laundering: Europol


Nearly 70% of criminal networks operating in the EU make use of forms of money laundering to fund their activities and conceal their assets, Europol revealed Monday in its first-ever report on financial and economic crimes in the bloc. 

The report by the EU’s law enforcement agency said that the interconnected world is being abused by criminals who have created an underground economy to sustain their illegal operations.

Among the key findings of the 57-page report, Europol said that more than 60% of the criminal networks operating in the EU use corruptive methods to achieve their illegal goals.

It added that 80% of the criminal networks active in the EU misuse legal business structures for criminal activities.

“Organized crime has built a parallel global criminal economy around money laundering, illicit financial transfers and corruption. With modern technology, they have diversified their modi operandi to evade detection,” said Catherine De Bolle, Europol’s executive director, in a statement.

She added that the report serves “as a roadmap to foster cooperation that will derail the world of criminal finances, intercept illicit profits, and – above all else – make Europe safer.”

The report highlighted that the criminal landscape in the area is fragmented, with players often based outside of the bloc.

It also warned that the techniques and tools used by the criminals advance quickly, benefiting from technological advances or taking advantage of geopolitical developments.

“This report sets out the increasingly sophisticated methods of organized crime and the European law enforcement successes in fighting back. If EU member states work together even closer on this fight, we can achieve great results,” said Ylva Johansson, European commissioner for home affairs.

While asset recovery is one of the most powerful tools to fight against financial crime, Europol found that authorities only confiscate 2% of the yearly estimated proceeds of organized crime groups in the EU.

The report is based on a combination of operational insights and strategic intelligence contributed to Europol by EU member states and Europol’s partners.

It analyzes all financial and economic crimes affecting the EU, such as money laundering, corruption, fraud, intellectual property crime, and commodity and currency counterfeiting.

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