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Criminal Financial Investigation: A Strategic and Tactical Approach at a European Level

NCJ Number
Transnational Organized Crime Volume: 5 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 1999 Pages: 37-66
Petrus C. Van Duyne; Michael Levi
Date Published
30 pages
This article discusses the tactics and strategies of financial investigations that target organized crime groups in Europe.
The establishment of specialized financial units in European countries to conduct or direct financial investigations of criminal enterprises has been encouraged by the increase in money-laundering legislation and the European Union's requirement to establish such units. The primary objective of financial investigations of organized crime is to cripple criminal enterprises financially. Before discussing various forms of financial investigation, this article identifies and characterizes the various crime markets that are potential targets of such investigations. These include the basic acquisition market (trading in forbidden goods and services); the financial processing market (professional handling of criminal gains to shield their existence and use from the authorities); and the precipitation of the crime money (injection of ill-gotten gains into the legitimate economy). The discussion of the aforementioned crime markets is followed by a section on the characteristics of the strategic financial investigation. Such an investigation maps the financial processing market and the precipitation areas of the crime money. In this section of the article, attention is given to domestic power, the commercial sphere of influence, economic power in the "upperworld," money flows and the precipitation of the crime money, and money currents. This section of the article also identifies and discusses the following legitimate areas in which crime entrepreneurs invest their ill-gotten profits: the catering business; gaming machines; real estate, including real estate development and construction; and transportation branches. The remaining major sections of the article address tactical financial investigations, with attention to fraud investigations, forfeiture and confiscation investigations, money-laundering investigations, and an analysis of criminal enterprises; and the European dimension of financial investigations. 39 notes