UNITED NATIONS, New York – Identifying new mechanisms to assist law enforcement efforts in identifying and seizing criminal assets was the focus of an INTERPOL meeting at the United Nations headquarters.
During the three-day (17 – 19 December) working group meeting some 90 experts from 32 countries and six international organizations, including a number of UN agencies, the International Criminal Court and the World Bank, discussed the creation of operational tools through which INTERPOL could assist in asset tracing and recovery.
Organized by the INTERPOL General Secretariat in cooperation with the US National Central Bureau in Washington DC, the aim of the second session of the Expert Working Group on the Identification, Location and Seizure of Assets was to provide practitioners with new insight and instruments to enhance law enforcement and judicial cooperation.
Headed by chairman Ambassador Eugenio María Curia and Joël Sollier, INTERPOL General Counsel, the group recommended the creation of a new INTERPOL notice to locate, identify and obtain information on, seize or freeze criminal assets in compliance with national and international laws and obligations, supported by the establishment of an operational database.
The experts also recommended further consideration of developing mechanisms to simplify and expedite the transmission of mutual legal assistance requests using the secured INTERPOL communications channel (e-MLA). Rapid law enforcement action is particularly important to bridge the gap between lengthy legal assistance procedures and the high speed at which criminals move and hide proceeds.
With studies showing less than 10 percent of all criminal gains are being recovered, one of the key drivers behind the creation of the expert working group is to increase the number of criminal assets being frozen, confiscated for the benefit of society or given back to original owners.
The working group session was addressed by New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton who highlighted the important role of asset recovery in daily police work.
The meeting, attended by three INTERPOL Executive Committee members, Vice President for the Americas, Alan Bersin and Delegates for Europe, Filippo Dispenza and Alexander Prokopchuk, followed the recent briefing to the UN Security Council by INTERPOL Secretary General Jürgen Stock.
In his address to the Security Council, Mr Stock emphasized INTERPOL’s important role in providing assistance for the implementation of UN sanctions, and highlighted the work of the expert working group in supporting the coordination of international law enforcement efforts in asset tracing and freezing.