The aim of the Meeting is to introduce and discuss legislative instruments, co-operation mechanisms, multi-disciplinary/-agency approaches and law enforcement good practice examples, for the purpose of strengthening OSCE participating States efforts in countering crime and disrupting criminal networks through confiscating criminal proceeds and recovering criminal assets.
Financial gains are the main incentive of most types of serious and organized crime. This applies for example to illicit drugs production and trafficking, trafficking in human beings and smuggling of migrants, child sexual exploitation, counterfeiting and fraud, as well as all financial and economic crime.
The value of the global business of transnational crime is estimated $1.6 to $2.2 trillion, according to a 2017 research made by the NGO Global Financial Integrity. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimates that criminal proceeds reach up to 3.6% of global gross domestic product (GDP). Recent research reported by Europol estimates that illicit markets in the European Union generate about €110 billion annually.
INTERPOL has noted that “…the circulation and flow of illicit proceeds represent a serious danger to the community in all countries, and that the most effective means to combat organized crime infiltration and corruption is to strip the criminal organizations of their illegal profits, thus depriving them of their economic and financial power.” (INTERPOL’s 81st General Assembly, Rome 2012, AG-2012-RES02).
Europol has highlighted that “The most threatening criminal groups are those which are able to invest their significant profits in the legitimate economy as well as their own criminal enterprises, ensuring business continuity and a further expansion of their criminal activities.” (EU Serious and Organized Crime Threat Assessment, SOCTA 2017: 11).
Academia, international organizations and law enforcement agencies agree that the most effective and sustainable way to disrupt or dismantle serious and organized criminal activities is to strip the criminal groups and networks of their proceeds, i.e. to confiscate the revenues and the illegally obtained criminal assets. Yet, according to a recent research, only 1.2% of illicit proceeds is confiscated in the EU, leaving 98.8% at the disposal of criminals, criminal groups and criminal networks (Europol. Criminal Assets Recovery in the EU. 2016: 4).
Why is only such a small fragment of crime proceeds confiscated? What can be done to strengthen the most effective criminal justice systems’ measures against criminal activities, namely to confiscate the criminal proceeds? These are among the key questions which the 2017 OSCE Annual Police Experts Meeting (APEM) will address and seek to answer.
The APEM is organized in accordance with the OSCE Ministerial Decision MC(9).DEC/9 of 4 December 2001, which calls upon the OSCE to preferably annually convene meetings of law enforcement experts from OSCE participating States and representatives of relevant specialized international and regional organizations. Article 15 of the OSCE Strategic Framework for Police-Related Activities (PC.DEC/1049 of 26 July 2012) highlights the OSCE’s role in enhancing the capacities of participating States in techniques which have been proven effective in cases of organized crime, including financial investigations, seizures of proceeds of crime and tracing of money laundering, connected to all types of crime.
After a formal opening and welcoming remarks, the meeting will be divided into three main sessions. The first session will introduce the state of play, the scope of “the problem”, the main relevant international policy instruments and global actors involved in the meeting’s subject matter. The second session will explore and discuss international and regional co-operation mechanisms and examples of national organizational structures, especially focusing on multi-agency approaches to seizing and confiscating criminal proceeds. In the third session, practical ways to disrupt criminal networks will be discussed, through introducing and examining real cases and operations from a law enforcement and prosecution perspective.
The main findings and outcomes of the meeting will be compiled in a report, which will serve as a basis for further discussions on this topic at the national, regional and international level, and as guidance for the OSCE (in particular the Transnational Threats Department and the field operations) when providing technical assistance.