The people at the DOJ in charge of FCPA enforcement get help from the Egmont Group, they say. The feds describe Egmont as part of the international infrastructure by which enforcement agencies share information and help each other develop evidence to prosecute financial crimes, such as money laundering, tax evasion, and graft.
Here’s the background.
The Egmont Group started in 1995 at the Egmont Arenberg Palace in Brussels. It’s a membership group for Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs). Countries aren’t members but their designated FIUs can be.
There were 13 original members in 1995. That grew to 105 members in 2007, and there are now 139 members. The permanent secretariat is in Toronto, Canada.
The organization helps FIUs cooperate on investigations and share information. It offers training and promotes personnel exchanges. And it spends a lot of time developing secure channels of communication among the members.
At the Group’s 21st annual meeting in July in South Africa, there were 380 participants from FIUs from 107 countries, 15 international organizations, and 3 other agencies.
Among current members are the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.K.’s National Crime Agency, and Germany’s Zentralstelle für Verdachtsanzeigen. There’s no member from China or a lot of the Central and East African countries.
Each year, the Egmont Group names two ‘best cases’ that illustrate how money launderers operate, and how members worked together to track and catch them.
The latest annual report includes the case of a Russian gang of criminals and public officials who were stealing state funds. They were caught through cooperation of FIUs in the British Virgin Islands, Italy, Ireland, Cyprus, Latvia, Luxemburg, the United States, France, Switzerland, and Lithuania.
The other case involved rebel kidnappers in the Philippines. Egmont Group members worked together to track the ransom after the kidnappers split the money into 91 payments. The FIUs took CCTV footage of those withdrawing the money from ATMs. Police were then able to identify the kidnappers and raid their hideouts. The hostages were freed or managed to escape.
There’s also a book of 100 sanitized cases ‘on successes and learning moments in the fight against money laundering’ published by Egmont.
An FIU of any country that wants membership in the Egmont Group is required to make a formal application. If the application is accepted, there’s a monitoring period and two on-site inspections. An applicant needs two members to act as sponsors, who guide and support the application process.
Membership isn’t guaranteed. Bangladesh’s Financial Intelligence Unit of the Bangladesh Bank was admitted earlier this year. It first applied in 2008 but was put on hold ‘because of some legal and infrastructural conditions,’ a Bangladesh official said.
Other new members admitted at the latest annual meeting were FIUs from Algeria, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Holy See (Vatican City State), Seychelles, Togo, and Trinidad and Tobago.
A list of all Egmont Group members is here.
Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog. He can be contacted here.