09. December 2021

Thousands gather virtually to share knowledge of virtual assets-based money laundering and other crypto-enabled crimes

Cryptocurrency and Criminal Finances 20201 conference banner

The 5th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies on 7-8 December 2021, co-organised by the Basel Institute on Governance, INTERPOL and Europol, saw several thousand participants from the public and private sectors gathering to exchange knowledge on virtual assets-based money laundering and related risks in the crypto sphere. Overall, fast and cooperative action by governments, law enforcement, regulators and the private sector is essential to tackle the risks and keep this dynamic industry safe for all.

Virtual assets-based money laundering and other crypto-enabled crimes are threats not only to users and financial markets, but also to the dynamism and innovation of the sector itself. Protecting citizens and the global economy from the risks of abuse of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets is a task that requires concerted and sustained effort by governments, law enforcement, regulators and the private sector.

This positive sentiment was at the heart of the 5th Global Conference on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies, held virtually on 7–8 December 2021. A joint initiative of the Basel Institute on Governance, INTERPOL and Europol, the Conference saw several thousand participants tuning in to learn about the latest trends, strategies and tactics in tackling crimes and threats involving virtual assets.

Sharing knowledge and building bridges

Around 2,000 cryptocurrency and anti-money laundering experts from the public and private sectors, policy institutions and academia attended the first day of the conference, which saw a series of presentations on emerging themes and topics in the virtual assets sector.

These include the fast-evolving fields of decentralised finance and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), regulatory developments affecting anti-money laundering compliance, crypto-enabled fraud and the possibilities that governments have to recover illicit assets even if they are virtual.

On the second day of the conference, which was restricted to members of law enforcement bodies and related public authorities, speakers shared their experiences of investigating cryptocurrency-enabled crime and money laundering cases with over 1,500 participants.

This kind of knowledge-sharing between the public and private sectors, as well as between law enforcement representatives in different countries and institutions, is crucial in global efforts to protect the virtual assets industry from malicious actors. It also helps to foster the multidisciplinary approach that is essential to tackling virtual assets-based money laundering and related crimes, by bringing together expertise in technology, financial investigation and asset recovery.

The annual conferences help to create a network of practitioners and professionals who can collectively establish best practices and provide assistance and recommendations in this fast-evolving field.

Forthcoming Recommendations on combating virtual assets-based money laundering and crypto-enabled crime

A set of Recommendations will be issued jointly by the Basel Institute on Governance, INTERPOL and Europol in the days following the Conference. They will set out several approaches that all stakeholders should consider taking to address emerging risks and keep the industry safe for all, covering:

  1. International cooperation
  2. Virtual asset recovery
  3. Public-private cooperation
  4. Harmonised regulation and its effective implementation
  5. Investigative techniques and technologies
  6. Capacity building
  7. Multidisciplinary approach, including through specialised law enforcement units

When taken in the spirit of open collaboration, such approaches will help all stakeholders to address emerging areas of concern raised during the conference, from DeFi to dark net marketplaces.

About the conference

The annual conference is organised by the Working Group on Criminal Finances and Cryptocurrencies, a tripartite initiative of the Basel Institute on Governance, INTERPOL and Europol that dates back to 2014 and was formally established in 2016.

The three institutions take turns to host the conference each year. This year’s conference was hosted by the Basel Institute on Governance. Next year, Europol will be organising the event. Information about previous events, as well as relevant publications and learning opportunities, is available at: baselgovernance.org/5crc.

For links to photos and videos from Day 1 of the Conference, please check baselgovernance.org/5crc in the days following the conference and follow the co-organisers on social media. Media enquiries: [email protected]

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