OLAF helped for uncovering €17m in illicit cash flows in one week

Customs authorities detected a total of 508 cases of undeclared and opaque money transfers

Photo: Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency

A major customs operation has uncovered illicit cross-border currency flows of €17m potentially linked to money laundering, transnational criminal networks and terrorism financing, OLAF Press Office announced. Operation Daphne, led by the Italian Customs and Monopolies Agency and the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF), with the support of Europol, involved 24 EU countries. 

Over the course of the week-long operation, customs authorities detected a total of 508 cases of undeclared and opaque cash flows, leading to 40 or so follow-up investigations that have now been concluded. The vast majority of the cases detected (423) involved air traffic, accounting for €15m. Sea transport accounted for 41 cases, worth €987,000.

In the remaining cases were involved other means of transport. Most of the cases (453) concerned passengers travelling to/from outside the EU, carrying a total €15.6m. Passengers travelling to/from EU countries accounted for 31 cases.

OLAF played a major part in the joint customs operation, providing both financial support and the use of its Virtual Operations Coordination Unit to enable the secure exchange of information during the operation. Europol performed crosschecks in its databases, allowing the identification of potential criminal links. The EC's Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union also participated in the operation.

Illicit cash flows are by their very nature a cross-border challenge, and this is where OLAF can bring real added-value to operations of this sort, OLAF Director-General Ville Itälä underscored. He pointed out that national customs authorities play a central role in detecting illicit cash flows at borders and in tackling related offences, but coordinating the tracking of these flows across national borders is much more effective with OLAF support.

“We are also uniquely placed to coordinate with other European-level actors such as Europol and with other relevant parts of European Commission. The successful identification of €17m in illicit cash flows is proof positive of the effectiveness of this approach,” OLAF Director-General added.


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