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Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) Jill THOMAS Specialist Europol Criminal Assets Bureau TAIEX Seminar on Asset Recovery Offices Ankara – 14 & 15 December 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) Jill THOMAS Specialist Europol Criminal Assets Bureau TAIEX Seminar on Asset Recovery Offices Ankara – 14 & 15 December 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Asset Recovery Offices (AROs) Jill THOMAS Specialist Europol Criminal Assets Bureau TAIEX Seminar on Asset Recovery Offices Ankara – 14 & 15 December 2011 Europol Unclassified - Basic Protection Level

2 2 Content Introduction: Europol Criminal Assets Bureau Asset Recovery Offices  Origin  Purpose  Legal Basis  Functions Questions and Answers

3 3 3 EUROPOL THE OBJECTIVE OF EUROPOL – “to support and strengthen action by the competent authorities of the Member States and their mutual cooperation in preventing and combating organised crime, terrorism and other forms of serious crime affecting two or more Member States” (Art.3 ECD) Corresponding Judicial Agency is EUROJUST

4 4 4 O 8 OC Networks Member States’ Liaison Bureaux Third Parties’ Liaison Bureaux Internal Audit Function (IAF) Management Board Secretariat (MBS) O 1 Operational Centre 24/7 O 2 Analysis & Knowledge O 3 Criminal Finances & Technology O 4 Counter Terrorism O 5 Forgery of Money O 6 OC Networks O 7 OC Networks Governance Department Deputy Director Data Protection Office G 1 Office of the Director G 2 Strategic & External Affairs G 3 Legal Affairs G 4 Corporate Communications G 5 Security C 1 ICT Infrastructure & Facilities C 2 Business Demand & Products C 3 IT Solution Engineering C 4 Programmes & Architecture C 5 Human Resources C 6 Finance Europol Organisation Chart Operations Department Deputy Director Director Assistant Director Assistant Director Capabilities Department Deputy Director Assistant Director

5 5 Introduction 70 % of all crimes are committed for financial gain At present only a small amount of crime proceeds are seized and confiscated

6 6 Asset tracing/confiscation Regarded as efficient law enforcement tool, especially to tackle organised crime by ◊ locating the proceeds from crime (LE authorities) ◊ freezing the proceeds from crime (judicial authorities, MLA) ◊ and finally confiscating the proceeds from crime by Court (criminal or civil) in order to disrupt the financial basis of the criminal organisation (prevention) and to dismantle its internal structure

7 7 Legal Background Council of Europe Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime – 1990 2000 UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime 2005 Warsaw Convention and within the EU… 1997 EU Action Plan to combat organised crime 1999 Tampere European Council

8 8 EU AROs Operational background Establishment of specialised offices in some EU Member States, e.g. BOOM in the Netherlands (1992), COSC in Belgium (1994) and the CAB in Ireland (1996) Europol Established it‘s Criminal Asset Bureau in 2004 Establishment of Asset Recovery Offices in all EU Member States according to the EU Council Decision 2008

9 9 Europol Criminal Assets Bureau ECAB Operational supports MS investigators in the asset identification phase of any criminal investigation assists to identify what information/intelligence is available and through which official channel investigators need to go through to get that information helps Member States to build capacities and to improve cooperation to recover crime proceeds worldwide

10 10 Europol Criminal Assets Bureau – responsibilities Strategic To hold the permanent Secretariat of the ‘The Camden Asset Recovery Inter-Agency Network – CARIN ‘ To manage The Europol Financial Crime Information Centre Web Site – FCIC To support Member States in the establishment of Asset Recovery Offices in line with European Law (Council Decision 2007/845/JHA)

11 11 EU Council Decision on Asset Recovery Office(s) Background CARIN Network Austrian Presidency initiaitive, supported by Belgium and Finland

12 12 EU Council Decision on Asset Recovery Offices Added value: Creates legal EU framework for existing, informal network Obliges every Member State to set up ARO Establishes legal obligation for co-operation between AROs of different legal nature (Article 2(2))

13 13 EU Council Decision on Asset Recovery Office(s) ARO = Office charged with the facilitation of the tracing and identification of proceeds of crime and other crime related property  which may become the object of an order made by a competent judicial authority for freezing or seizure or for confiscation in the course of criminal or, as far as possible under the national law of the Member State concerned, civil proceedings

14 14 EU Council Decision on Asset Recovery Office(s) ► Principal obligation to set up/ designate 1 (or 2) AROs per Member State Legal/constitutional set-up of every MS Acknowledgment of role of other units charged with the faciltation of tracing and identification of assets

15 15 EU Council Decision on Asset Recovery Office(s) ► Obligation to exchange infomation and best practices Regardless of legal nature of ARO ► Reference to existing/future regimes of law enforcement co-operation Co-operation is aimed at exchanging information on location and identification of seizable property = police co-operation

16 16 EU Council Decision on Asset Recovery Office(s) ► Reference to the Framework Decision on simplifying the exchange of information between the law enforcement authorties of the MS of the EU Procedures Channel Data protection regime Time limits

17 17 ARO Matrix COUNTRYPoliceJudiciary Multi- disciplinary Austria P Belgium J Bulgaria M Cyprus M Czech Republic P Denmark M Estonia P M Finland P Germany (2) PJ Hungary P Ireland M Latvia P Luxembourg J Netherlands JM Poland P Romania P Countries20 Slovak Republic P ARO's24 Spain (2) PJ Countries with 2 ARO's 4 Sweden (2) PJ Police13 UK-England, Wales & NI MJudiciary6 UK-Scotland P Multisiciplinary7

18 18 Conclusion EU Council Decision on AROs EU Council Decision on AROs Important ‘instutional brick’ in the EU framework for confiscation of criminal proceeds Mutual recognition of freezing orders/confiscation orders is contingent upon the swift exchange of information between AROs

19 19 High Level Conference on Establishing National Asset Recovery Offices Brussels 6 & 7 March 2008 Joint project of the Austrian Bundeskriminalamt, the Belgian Federal Police, the Belgian Central Office for Seizure and Confiscation and Europol supported by the European Commission and the ISEC Funding Program To discuss the best ways to establish national AROs – common understanding on their roles and to provide for an efficient exchange of operational information following the EU Council Decision of 6 December 2007 concerning cooperation between the Asset Recovery Offices of the Member States

20 20 Ideal Structure of an ARO Have a multidisciplinary structure comprising expertise from: ◊ law enforcement; ◊ judicial authorities; ◊ tax authorities; ◊ social welfare; ◊ customs; and any other relevant services. These agencies should be able to exercise their usual powers and have access to all relevant databases in order to identify and trace assets. Have access to a central bank account register at national level Be adequately resourced

21 21 Ideal Structure of an ARO Provide a central point for all incoming requests relating to asset tracing Collect all relevant statistics on freezing and confiscation And where AROs do not directly manage seized assets, they at least should collect information from competent authorities on seized assets.

22 22 New EU legal framework Under a Commission strategic initiative to protect the EU economy against criminal infiltration, proposals are being prepared to amend the legal framework: Two separate proposals (one on substantive legislation and one on mutual recognition) Timetable: end 2011 Importance of respecting fundamental rights (effective legal remedies)

23 Questions? Thank you


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