Representatives from law enforcement and the judiciary, Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), international organizations and the private sector have met virtually to shape international cross-sector solutions against the criminal use of cryptocurrencies.
Involving more than 2,000 participants from 132 countries across two days (November 18-19), the 4th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies was co-organized by INTERPOL, Europol and the Basel Institute on Governance. The annual conference is an initiative of the Working Group on cryptocurrencies and money laundering established in 2016 by the three organizations, and aims to strengthen knowledge, expertise and best practices for financial investigations and intelligence on virtual assets and cryptocurrencies.
Recent increases in the number and quality of investigations in the field of cryptocurrency-facilitated crime and subsequent money laundering means that law enforcement and other public entities are continuing to enhance their level of knowledge and expertise in this crime area. In this regard, the conference served as an opportunity to underline the need for countries and jurisdictions to increase the exchange of tactical information and best practices, so that lessons learnt by one entity can be useful to others.
The conference underlined the need to extend capabilities on how to investigate virtual assets, and the necessity of applying rules to regulate virtual asset service providers to prevent money laundering.
“A multi-agency and multi-disciplinary approach involving both the private and public sectors is key to tackling criminal finances and the misuse of cryptocurrencies,” said INTERPOL’s Director of Organized and Emerging Crime. “By combining the expertise and data on financial crime held by the private sector with the investigative capabilities of law enforcement, we can enhance our collective capabilities and scale up efforts against criminal finances.”
The conference agenda included trends and investigations on cryptocurrency crime, exploring criminal flows and operations in dark markets, ransomware and sextortion case studies, money laundering involving virtual assets, and the transfer of drug proceeds using cryptocurrencies.
Participants at the conference endorsed recommendations on capacity building initiatives to extend capabilities on how to investigate virtual assets, establishing clear regulatory framework to prevent money laundering, adopting ‘follow the money’ strategies against criminal proceeds, strengthening information exchange to dismantle criminal networks, and exploiting new technologies in criminal finances investigations.
The tripartite working group’s objectives include gathering, analyzing and exchanging non-operational information on the use of virtual assets, and creating a network of practitioners and experts in the field, so as to collectively establish best practices and provide assistance beyond the working group.
The Basel Institute on Governance will host the next edition of the conference in the second half of 2021.