By Imane Rachidi
The Hague, Jun 5 (efe-epa).- Europol launched a European Financial and Economic Crime Centre on Friday to crack down on fraudsters taking advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The new division will work with law enforcement in the European Union to fight criminals seeking to profit from the economic hardship caused by the health crisis.
Catherine De Bolle, executive director of Europol, said in a statement: “The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic has weakened our economy and created new vulnerabilities from which crime can emerge.
“Economic and financial crime, such as various types of fraud, money laundering, intellectual property crime and currency counterfeiting, is particularly threatening during times of economic crisis.
“Unfortunately, this is also when they become most prevalent.”
She added that carrying out searches and arrests and confiscating illegal drugs is not enough and said law enforcement also need to pursue the money behind these criminal enterprises.
Almost 99 percent of the estimated profits of organized crime are not confiscated, according to Europol data.
De Bolle said these funds need to be seized to interrupt criminal activities and dissuade further offenses.
Economic and financial crimes affect millions of people and thousands of companies in the EU every year at a cost of around 110 billion euros, according to Europol.