EU approves package on tackling organised crime

Proposal from MEP Emer Costello on redirection of seized criminal assets included

The European Parliament’s final package of measures to tackle organised crime includes a proposal from Dublin MEP Emer Costello (above), that governments be encouraged to redirect part of the proceeds of confiscated criminal assets to communities affected by crime. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

The European Parliament’s final package of measures to tackle organised crime includes a proposal from Dublin MEP Emer Costello (above), that governments be encouraged to redirect part of the proceeds of confiscated criminal assets to communities affected by crime. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Wed, Oct 23, 2013, 17:00

Measures to tackle organised crime - including an Irish proposal that criminal assets should be reinvested in communities most affected by crime - have been approved by the European Parliament.

The measures, which include anti-corruption and anti- money laundering proposals, envisage the setting up of a European Public Prosecutor’s office to co-ordinate national investigations.

The measures also include a proposal to abolish banking secrecy, eliminate tax havens and impose greater penalties on those involved in human trafficking.

The final package also includes a proposal from Dublin MEP Emer Costello that governments be encouraged to redirect part of the proceeds of confiscated criminal assets to communities affected by crime.

Speaking after the vote in Strasbourg, Ms Costello said she would “now be taking this up with the Irish Government to ensure that this recommendation is acted upon”.

Between 1996 and 2011, the Criminal Assets Bureau secured final asset confiscation orders worth €54 million and tax payments of €137 million.

“Only last week, the Criminal Assets Bureau started selling criminal assets on ebay. The first item out up for sale - a Rolex watch - earned €7,000. Rather than this money going back into CAB, I would like to see it reinvested in crime-stricken communities in areas such as youth support and regeneration,” Ms Costello said.

The debate also heard the European Commission calculates the cost of corruption in the EU at some €120 billion a year, equivalent to 1.1 per cent of EU GDP.

Members were also told trafficking in human beings generates criminal profits estimated at €25 billion a year across the world. The total number of forced labourers in the EU was said to be about 880,000, of whom 270,000 are victims of sexual exploitation.

The resolution adopted by the parliament sets out an action plan to equip the EU to fight organised crime at international, European and national levels.

It was drafted by the Special Committee on Organised Crime, Corruption and Money Laundering, set up in March 2012 to assess the impact of mafia-type activities on the EU’s economy.