On 22 and 23 June 2017, Europol’s (EC3) organised the 4th Virtual Currencies Conference. The event was hosted by Europol at its headquarters in The Hague and was co-chaired by representatives from the agency’s EC3 and AP) SUSTRANS.
The main aim of the conference was to further strengthen the fight against the abuse of virtual currencies for criminal transactions and money laundering. Another interesting topic covered was the legitimate use of bitcoin technology, including the use of cryptocurrencies as a store of value, a payment method for legitimate goods and services.
The event brought together over 150 experts from many regions of the world. Most participants represented law enforcement authorities from European countries. Additionally, a number of LEAs from non-EU countries participated as well.
Furthermore, the event was supported by experts from the private sector specialised in facilitating the lawful use of virtual currencies by providing online exchange, payment processing or wallet services including Bitcoin.de, Bitfinex, BitPanda, Bitonic, Bitstamp, BitPay, Coinbase, Cubits, LocalBitcoins, SpectroCoin and Xapo.
The participants shared their insights into criminal trends and the latest techniques used by criminals to hide their financial tracks and cash out criminal proceeds using bitcoins and other virtual currencies.
The latest technology solutions for tracing blockchain transactions for criminal investigations were presented by both law enforcement developers and tracking companies that take advantage of the inherent transparency of bitcoin transactions. Also highlighted was use of blockchain technology as an independent tamper-proof decentralised ledger. This opens a wide variety of practical use cases including for extracting forensic evidence.
Best practices and law enforcement techniques were shared through concrete case examples such as investigations on ransomware and DDoS extortion. The event also offered opportunities for closer cooperation and new partnerships to prevent and fight cybercrime and money laundering, as well as facilitate asset recovery.
Virtual currency experts demonstrated their best practices in implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) policies and mechanisms, as well as risk-based approaches to suspicious transactions.
Over the last few years, the annual VCC has stimulated the development of an expert community of investigators, prosecutors and experts from the private sector, who jointly contribute to fighting and preventing the abuse of virtual currencies for criminal activities. The participants have expressed their commitment to further foster this valuable cooperation in the future.
Note to editors
Europol set up EC3 in 2013 to strengthen the law enforcement response to cybercrime in the EU and thus to help protect European citizens, businesses and governments from online crime. Cybercrime costs EU Member States EUR 265 billion a year, almost one third of the global figure. Cybercrime is actually a wide and varied problem. And EC3 is a key part of Europol’s, and the EU’s, response. EC3 takes a three-pronged approach to the fight against cybercrime: forensics, strategy and operations.
Europol’s AP SUSTRANS was opened in 2001 and is currently one of the oldest and widest APs at Europol. It provides support to EU Member States’ cross-border investigations into the money laundering activities of transnational criminal organisations. This has been done through the establishment of a pan-European platform destined to integrate, process and analyse all types of dedicated financial data (ongoing investigations, suspicious transaction reports, cash seizures, international transfers, etc.). All 28 EU Member States and 52 Europol third partners are part of this project.