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Crime

Statement by Vice President Jourová and Commissioner Reynders on the European Day for Victims of Crime

EU Reporter Correspondent

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To mark the European Day for Victims of Crime, Values and Transparency Vice President Vera Jourová, and Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders issued the following statement: “Every year millions of people in the European Union become victims of crime. The COVID-19 pandemic had its impact too. During the lockdown measures, we saw a rise in domestic violence, child sexual abuse, cybercrime, and racist and xenophobic hate crime. These victims need particular attention. Many of these victims do not know their rights. Often they do not want to or are too scared to report crimes to authorities. As a result, too many victims of crime are left unheard without access to justice and proper support. The first step to change this is to empower victims, especially those most vulnerable such as victims of gender-based violence or hate crime. Last year we presented the first ever victims' rights strategy, focused on empowering victims to report crimes and get the support they need, no matter where they are in the EU, or in what circumstances the crime took place. The second step is to work together. We appointed our first ever Coordinator for victims' rights and set up  the EU Victims' Rights Platform, bringing together for the first time all EU level actors relevant for victims' rights. Helping victims recover from their suffering and move on in their lives is a challenging and long-running task that only a tight-knit cooperation between all actors at EU and national level can achieve.”

The full statement is available online.

Crime

Fighting crime: Commission launches public consultation on environmental crime

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The Commission has launched a public consultation on environmental crime. The results of this public consultation will feed into the review of the EU rules on environmental crime. The Directive (Directive 2008/99/EC) requires member states to treat activities that breach EU environmental legislation, such as illegal shipment of waste, trade in endangered species or in ozone-depleting substances, as criminal offences. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said: “The EU is a front-runner in developing a comprehensive environmental policy. We are determined to continue setting global standards for the protection of the planet. A green transition means that we have to protect our environment against crime and our natural resources against exploitation. I invite everyone to take part in this consultation and share their contribution. Together, we can do more to protect wildlife and improve the quality of life of all citizens.”

A legislative proposal for a revised Directive is expected by the end of 2021. An evaluation of the Directive, carried out in 2019-2020, concluded that room for improvement remains when it comes to reducing environmental crime and prosecuting offenders. The revision addresses those issues, by making use of the EU's reinforced competence in the field of criminal law under the Lisbon Treaty as well as ensure better coordination of the rules with other green initiatives. The public consultation will gather views from individuals and groups with interest and expertise in the matter, like members of the general public, academics, businesses and NGOs. The public consultation is open from 5 February until 4 May 2021. More information is available here.

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Europol

Europol helps bust Forex fraudsters

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Spain’s Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) together with Catalan police (Mossos d’Esquadra), Andorra and Europol have teamed up to dismantle an investment fraud in foreign exchange and binary options markets. The scam is believed to have an international scope. Led by Andorran Police under the judicial direction of Specialized Batllia Instruction 2, an operation carried out in January has resulted in the arrest of six suspected fraudsters aged between 20 and 34 years. The nabbed suspects allegedly defrauded thousands of clients via an investment training company.

Located in Andorra, the company specialised in the training of investment in cryptocurrencies and other assets, and is thought to have also carried out trading activities.During two house searches, police seized:eight vehicles;several electronic devices;an estimated €70 000 in fiat money and cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, OmiseGo and multiple bank accounts linked to the company.

Europol actively supported the investigation and operation mobilising experts from both the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre (EFECC) and European Cyber Crime Centre (EC3). During the operation, Europol experts were deployed in Andorra for on-the-spot operational support and forensic expertise.

Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU member states in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organised forms of crime. It also works with many non-EU partner states and international organisations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer. In 2019, Europol supported 1,874 international operations.

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Europol

Europol supports Spain and US in dismantling money-laundering organized crime

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Europol have supported the Spanish Civil Guard (Guardia Civil) and the US Drug Enforcement Administration to dismantle an organized crime group laundering money for major South American cartels. 

The criminal network was involved in debt collection and laundering of money coming from drug trafficking. They also provided so-called hitman services involving contract killings, threats and violence targeted at other criminal groups. The criminal organisation used the network of hitmen to collect payments across Spain from other criminal groups buying drugs from the South American cartels to redistribute them locally. The investigation identified also a number of ‘front men’ acquiring luxurious goods for the lifestyles of the group’s leaders. This was only a small part of a large money-laundering scheme that traded high-end cars and used smurfing techniques to place criminal profits into the financial system.

Results

  • 4 suspects arrested (Colombian, Spanish and Venezuelan nationals)
  • 7 suspects charged with criminal offences
  • 1 company charged with a criminal offence
  • 3 home searches in Spain
  • Seizures of high-end cars, luxury items, firearms and ammunition

Europol facilitated the information exchange and provided analytical support during the whole investigation.

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Headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, Europol supports the 27 EU member states in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime and other serious and organized forms of crime. It also works with many non-EU partner states and international organizations. From its various threat assessments to its intelligence-gathering and operational activities, Europol has the tools and resources it needs to do its part in making Europe safer.

 

EMPACT

In 2010 the European Union set up a four-year Policy Cycle to ensure greater continuity in the fight against serious international and organised crime. In 2017 the Council of the EU decided to continue the EU Policy Cycle for the 2018 - 2021 period. It aims to tackle the most significant threats posed by organised and serious international crime to the EU. This is achieved by improving and strengthening cooperation between the relevant services of EU Member States, institutions and agencies, as well as non-EU countries and organisations, including the private sector where relevant. Money laundering is one of the priorities for the Policy Cycle.

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