Europol or the ‘European Police Office’ is the EU’s inter-governmental law enforcement agency that allows numerous nation-states to pool resources to combat cross-border crime.
Its main goal is to help achieve a safer Europe for the benefit of all EU citizens. In the area of anti-money laundering, Europol provides member states’ law enforcement authorities with operational and analytical support via the ELOs (Europol Liaison Officers) and its analysts, as well as state of the art databases and communication channels.
Europol has kept up with other regulators and Financial Investigatory Units that have taken an interest in combatting financial crime in relation to crypto.
In 2019, Europol notably took down a “Cryptocurrency laundering as a service ring” in Spain worth more than 10 million EUR. In 2020 the agency analyzed and identified the financial crime and money laundering risks of certain elements of the cryptocurrency industry, namely; mixers/tumblers, privacy wallets and privacy coins and Open Marketplaces as ‘Top Threats’ in the Internet Organized Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) 2020 report, the 7th edition of the report that looks at cybercrime.
Europol does not have any executive powers itself and must be granted approval from EU member states to carry out investigations, make arrests, etc.
The specific branch of Europol that deals in matters of “financial and economic crime” is the European Financial and Economic Crime Centre otherwise known as the ‘EFECC’.
Europol cites that the “EU still shows mediocre results when it comes to recovering criminal assets – criminals keep over 98% of their assets.”