The three day Global Conference on Money Laundering and Digital Currencies, organized jointly by Interpol, Europol, and the Basel Institute on Governance, wrapped up January 18, 2017 in Qatar. In attendance was over four hundred financial crimes investigators and experts, looking to gain an understanding of what is needed to detect and fight crimes involving cryptocurrencies.
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The Head of Financial Intelligence at Europol, Simon Riondet, stated: “Digital currencies are now undoubtedly part of the payment system. Their use is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years. And understandably so, since they improve payment efficiency, reduce transaction and fund transfer costs, while facilitating international remittances." He also believes, in the hands of criminals, they can be a powerful weapon in concealing the movement of illicit funds.
The conference concluded with the following recommendations:
- All Countries should increase information sharing in this field. Special attention should be given to the international exchange of suspicious Bitcoin addresses that threaten economic stability. The use of Interpol, Europol, Egmont and FIU.net channels is recommended;
- All countries should increase training initiatives in this field (manuals, training initiatives, exchange programs and international conferences). Special attention should be dedicated to Regulators, Prosecutors and Judges, FIU Experts, Police Investigators and relevant private partners. International regular training on trends, new technologies, and financial innovation should also be provided by FATF, Interpol, Europol, CEPOL and the Basel Institute on Governance to make sure experiences and best practices are shared thus achieving similar international standards;
- All countries Regulators are advised to prepare clear and simple guidelines for all entities operating in this field. Special attention should be given to an increase on transparency and on access to information by Regulators, FIUs and Law Enforcement Agencies. The establishment of forums for Regulators, Policy Makers and Law Enforcement Agencies for the joint development of such guidelines is also advised;
- All countries are advised to regulate Digital Currencies Exchangers and Wallet Providers under their current Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Legislation in line with the obligations already pending on the Financial Sector;
- All countries are advised to take action against Digital Currencies Mixers/Tumblers. Such services are designed exclusively to anonymize transactions and to make it impossible for Law Enforcement Agencies to detect and trace suspicious transactions. The existence of such companies should not continue to be tolerated;
- All countries are advised to consider the creation of the crime of unexplained wealth. The existence of such crime and its usage as a predicate offence for the crime of money laundering is key factor successful investigations/convictions/confiscations in this field.