Europol fears forgers are set to cash in

Author (Person)
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Series Details Vol.7, No.46, 13.12.01, p7
Publication Date 13/12/2001
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Date: 13/12/01

By Martin Banks

With the launch of the new currency now just over two weeks away, Willy Bruggeman said: "One of the things that concerns us most is the issue of security. There have already been a number

of armed attacks against vehicles transporting the new notes and coins around Europe.

"My fear is that these incidents will almost certainly increase as the deadline for the introduction of the new currency approaches. The other threat we must face up to is a financial one, with the possibility of such criminal activity as money-laundering across the Union in euros."

Along with money-laundering, it is also feared that drug trafficking and other serious crimes will be encouraged with the advent of the euro because of the high value of its banknotes compared with many other national currencies.

EU law enforcement experts have warned that the existence of a €500 bill will enable gangs to transport massive amounts of cash across borders in briefcases.

Bruggeman, a Belgian police chief, issued his warning after announcing a new cooperation agreement between Europol,, based in The Hague, and the US.

Under the deal, Europol, set up in 1992 as an intelligence-gathering organisation, will share information about known criminals with America.

Bruggeman said closer cooperation will particularly help Europol tackle counterfeiting of euro notes and coins.

"We shall be liaising closely with the US Secret Service which, of course, has a long experience of dealing with the problem of counterfeiting," he said.

Bruggeman also said that from 1 January, Europol will extend the scope of its investigative powers to include crimes such as murder, drugs and arms dealing, robbery and fraud.

Europol employs 350 staff, including police officials from member states and representatives of customs, immigration and some security services, such as Britain's MI5.

Its mandate, as defined by a European Convention, is to support law enforcement in serious crimes, including counter-terrorism and counterfeiting.

The deputy director of Europol, the European Union's police agency, has warned of a two-pronged threat from euro-note forgers as the launch of the new currency approaches.

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