The head of Interpol, Jürgen Stock, has emphasized the need to classify crime groups as "national security threats." Speaking at the FATF-Interpol Roundtable Engagement (FIRE2) conference, Stock urged countries to enhance their asset recovery measures to deter organized crime. This conference, attended by approximately 200 law enforcement, prosecutors, and regulatory experts at Interpol's headquarters in Lyon, France, focused on strategies to deprive criminals of their ill-gotten assets and enhance societal safety.
Stock stressed that criminal organizations generate billions in illicit profits annually, warranting their classification as a national security menace. He highlighted the importance of increased cooperation and aligned efforts between organizations like Interpol and FATF to address the vulnerabilities that criminals exploit.
The event featured thematic panel discussions and real-life case studies encompassing the entire asset recovery process. FATF assessments revealed that globally, countries only recover a fraction of proceeds from criminal activities, allowing criminals to profit from their illegal gains, bolstering criminal operations, and eroding trust in government and the rule of law.
T. Raja Kumar, President of FATF, emphasized the necessity for a cultural shift, making asset recovery a top priority in law enforcement. He stated, "Asset recovery is not a secondary or ancillary aspect of investigations and prosecution. It should be a key crime prevention strategy to remove the primary incentive for financial crime – money. If done well, it will prevent and reduce further crime."
Participants also discussed emerging risk areas in the evolving global financial crime landscape, particularly cyber-enabled crime, which often intertwines with other criminal activities. The event highlighted the devastating impact of these crimes on victims.
Efforts to combat cyber-enabled crime were discussed, including updates on the joint project on Illicit Financial Flows from Cyber Enabled Fraud, co-led by FATF, INTERPOL, and the Egmont Group. The project addressed how new technologies have expanded the scale and scope of these crimes, underscoring the importance of domestic and international cooperation to trace and recover criminal proceeds.
Interpol's Global Rapid Intervention of Payments (I-GRIP) stop-payment mechanism, launched in 2022, was also showcased for its role in facilitating cross-border cooperation, helping countries intercept over $200 million, primarily from cyber-enabled fraud.
Proposed amendments to FATF Standards were discussed, aiming to prioritize asset recovery as a national strategic and operational focus. These revisions would strengthen domestic legal frameworks for asset recovery, including non-conviction based confiscation and collaboration with tax authorities.
Delegates emphasized the need for robust operational structures, interdisciplinary skills, and resources to achieve effective asset recovery. Successful countries often employ enhanced coordination mechanisms at the inter-agency level, public-private collaboration, and dedicated centralized units against financial crime.
The event highlighted the forthcoming FATF proposals to strengthen asset recovery networks, expected in October 2023. FIRE, a collaborative initiative by FATF and INTERPOL, has underscored the strategic and operational changes required for effective asset recovery.
Key findings from the conference will be discussed at the FATF's October Plenary to inform policy development and drive impactful action on asset recovery across jurisdictions.
By fLEXI tEAM