German and the Italian legal frameworks to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism


The International Monetary Fund has assessed the German and the Italian legal frameworks to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Reports have been published respectively in June and in February of this year. The evaluation of Italy is overall positive. Despite the high risk of money laundering, the country has a well developed legal system, authorities are able to undertake complex financial investigations, and entities involved in the prevention of money laundering have a good understanding of the phenomenon. Nevertheless, the achieved results are not commensurate with the volume of proceeds of crime generated in and outside the country. The use of shell-companies and other corporate vehicles for the purpose of money laundering and tax evasion is well known by authorities (especially by the Guardia di Finanza), however, more transparency with regard to beneficial owners is advocated. Particularly banks are considered vulnerable to money laundering due to the range of products they offer, the transaction volumes they handle, monster beats outlet and the interconnectedness of the banking sector with the international financial system. Yet, the IMF does not call for the hardening of sanctions for banks, nor for the introduction of corporate liability.

OLAF to close record numbers of investigations in 2015


In 2015 the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) closed 304 investigations, issued 364 recommendations to the Member States and EU authorities and opened 219 new investigations. The growth of efficiency is due to the 2012 OLAF reorganization, which turned out beneficial – in 4 years the office has reduced the number of long-lasting investigations by half.  What is worth noticing is that not only Europe-based investigations were handled by OLAF (as examples: fraud investigation in an ecological project in Africa or evasion of anti-dumping duties in Japan and Malaysia).

VAT fraud – bait for organized crime groups to funnel money


In 1993 the Maastricht Treaty (the Treaty on European Union or TEU) came into force. One of its main goal was to create a single market where goods, people, services and capital move within the union as freely as they do within a single country. Undeniably, the opening of borders has brought lots of benefits (the ability to study, live, work and retire in any member state; unrestricted flow of capital, products within the European Union etc.), yet the „frontier-free” market is also a bait for organized crime groups that want to take advantage of custom duties’ and other tariffs’ abolition. One of the most common and profitable crime is the value added tax fraud (VAT fraud) where mobsters make use of intra-community laws in order not to pay the tax on products shipped to another European Union’s Member State. According to Europol’s estimate, every year EU Member States lose 40-60 milliard euros in non-paid Value Added Tax.

BitCrime project reveals the use of digital currency in organised crime


In May 2016, the European Central Bank (ECB) after months of discussions announced that in 2018 it would cease to issue the banknotes of a 500-euro value (yet the ones in circulation would remain valid). By this means the European Union wants to eradicate a comfortable „tool” for mobsters to smuggle tainted money. Yet nowadays tangible money is not the only method of performing illicit financial flows. With the introduction of virtual currencies (Bitcoin being the most famous in this category) the organized crime groups were given an alternative method of transferring illegally acquired assets. This issue was finally acknowledged by Germany and Austria – that is why they decided to launch a research focused on the use of digital currencies in the organized crime domain. The project’s name is „BITCRIME” and it will be founded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the Austrian Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology with a total amount of €2.4 million.

500 euro bill – help for mobsters?


The idea of withdrawing 500 euro bill from circulation reappears in public debate every now and then. In 2010, the United Kingdom was the first to ban the sale of the note by exchange offices even though the country is not a member of the Eurozone. Now, the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) calls on the European Central Bank (ECB) to reconsider withdrawing the banknote as it is a comfortable tool for mobsters to smuggle tainted money. On the other hand, there are countries like Germany or the Netherlands where the tradition of using tangible money instead of electronic one (like credit cards, cheques etc.) still prevails. So what are the main concerns that act in favor of  withdrawing the purple bill?

Deutsche Bank in dire straits


Recent years have been no sunshine and rainbows for Deutsche Bank – one of the most powerful worldwide-known institution. Next week, the bank will announce a record loss, the highest in its history: 6,7 bln euros. That downturn is surely correlated to many dubious deals executed by the bank in the past years for which it will be answerable now. But in this story, the most staggering is that, apparently, intricate criminal-like structures can grow only if equipped with the jurisdiction’s, tax advisors’ and – indeed – financial institutions’ support. Thanks to such a team, bank’s operations   are susceptible to oscillate in the grey area, jurisdictional void, simply toying with rules and regulations.