Police in Greece arrested a notorious money launderer, who, according to Europol, was cleaning the dirty money of the world’s foremost criminals, including drug cartels.
According to Greece’s Financial and Economic Crime Unit (S.D.O.E.) the 52-year-old suspect is a Greek citizen of Albanian origin and had trafficked approximately 250 million euros ($268 million) within a period of 10 months.
The man is suspected of leading a criminal organization that laundered millions of euros on a monthly basis for criminals. At the detained man’s apartment, police found and confiscated currency in several denominatis, and cellphones, including one used in encrypted communications. His arrest at the southern Athenian suburb of Glyfada was caught on film:
His arrest follows a long investigation by the Dutch Police (Politie) into his activities in the Netherlands.
This arrest was supported within the framework of the Operational Taskforce TOKEN set up at Europol to target the networks facilitating underground banking worldwide.
Arrest of money launderer coordinated by Europol
Europol, officially the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union.
The intelligence development carried out by Europol after the recent takedown of three encrypted communication tools used by criminals – Encrochat, Sky ECC and ANOM – revealed the importance of these underground bankers in the criminal landscape, mostly operating under the radar of law enforcement until now.
Europol says that the underground movement of criminal money is crucial to organized crime operations. It involves large sums of cash being transferred, traded or transferred into cryptocurrency within a network of underground bankers and controllers.
This money is typically related to the drug trade and is used to invest in new drug shipments, pay for previous shipments or transfer it to other countries for spending.
The network of underground bankers can facilitate payment all over the world. It is not required that the money travels physically across borders.
An underground banker is a key figure and vital link in organized crime and assists in the laundering of profits generated from criminal activity. Underground banking is financing organized crime networks worldwide on a daily basis, says Europol.
Europol and International Cooperation
Due to the international nature of criminal underground banking, the Dutch Police works closely with Europol to tackle and disrupt the phenomena.
In early 2022, Europol established an Operational Taskforce specifically to target the networks facilitating underground banking worldwide.
The operational task force consists of law enforcement personnel from the Netherlands, Spain, France, Germany, Belgium, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, along with specialists and analysts from Europol’s European Financial and Economic Crime Centre.
Further results are to be expected as the work of the Operational Taskforce TOKEN continues.