Inter-institutional cooperation to intensify the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.
This is the essence of the memorandum that was signed today by the General Prosecutor, Olsian Çela, the Minister of Finance and Economy, Anila Denaj and the Minister of Interior, Sander Lleshaj.
The memorandum focuses on increasing the effectiveness of investigations related to money laundering, terrorist financing, financial crimes and the seizure and confiscation of criminal assets.
Through this memorandum, the parties commit to increase and strengthen inter-institutional cooperation, institutional and professional capacities to meet the recommendations of the Stabilization and Association Committee (SAC), between Albania and the European Union, the ICRG / FATF Action Plan within the deadlines set by each responsible institution.
The Parties undertake to take the necessary supervisory, monitoring and coordinating measures according to their legal competencies, to conduct joint analyzes and to exchange information between institutions in order to accurately and fully identify violations that constitute a criminal offense in the areas of money laundering, financing terrorism, financial crimes and conducting property investigations to seize and confiscate criminal assets.
The agreement provides for taking measures to initiate and implement legal changes or issue the necessary bylaws as well as the creation or improvement of special structures according to the scope of this memorandum with the most qualified staff.
The agreement institutionalizes cooperation for conducting pro-active investigations and the use of special investigative tools to increase the effectiveness of coordination between relevant institutions and law enforcement agencies, according to the stages of tracking, investigation and prosecution. Institutions are committed to cooperate and exchange, without compromising the respective legal competencies, the protection of personal data and the preservation of investigative secrecy on specific issues.
The agreement specifies the contribution of each institution, defining the tasks and coordination of work between institutions and law enforcement agencies in the tracing, detection, investigation and prosecution in the areas of laundering of proceeds of crime, financial crimes, terrorist financing, seizure and confiscation. of criminal assets, committed by natural or legal persons, according to the offenses of the Criminal Code.
The head of the General Prosecutor's Office, Olsian Çelaj said that the focus of this agreement will be the consolidation of communication lines between institutions. "The fight against money laundering has been a priority and we asked to make this priority part of our joint mission and for this reason we started the preparatory work and asked for the start of a group work between the institutions," said Cela.
"The working groups worked in a very difficult situation. What is innovative, and what we are changing is the approximation not only of institutions but also of processes, the combination of these processes, the increase of institutional accountability, we believe will bring good results. I believe that these measures will reduce informality in the economy. What constitutes the core of the agreement is the consolidation of communication lines between institutions. The level of coordination at the local level, in operational terms as well as at the central level, which will focus on building policies for case management, problem verification and finding solutions, thus creating the necessary amalgam, creating professional instruments for operators law enforcement on the ground. "Institutions are instruments through which we build a better and fairer society, where crime and informality will have no place," said Cela.
The Minister of Interior, Sander Lleshaj said that the police have seized a record amount of 100 million euros of economic assets originating from crime in 2019.
"The fight against money laundering, economic and financial crime, in fact is the essence of the fight against organized crime," said Lleshaj.
"The depletion of crime funding sources, as well as the prevention of crime to enjoy the proceeds of crime, is the core of all the effort which leads to the destruction of the business model. Because organized crime is a business. "If we destroy the cycle and destroy the model, we have made the greatest contribution to the fight against crime in general," Lleshaj continued.
"Certainly great progress has been made over the years and we have enough to report positively, but there is still much to do. If we will mention only one figure, in 2019 we have managed to seize a historic level of assets of criminal origin. So, a volume that goes to 100 million euros, is a historical record. ", - said Lleshaj, who expresses reservations about the decisions of the courts.
"The problem remains how much this figure will materialize in the end through final decisions. And this is also the endemic problem of our system, that we have a great discrepancy between what is seized and what is confiscated. "The source of this discrepancy is various, everyone has a small contribution, the police probably through not proving or not providing enough evidence, the prosecution, the courts," said Lleshaj.
"Which then brings us to this situation where we are also facing international institutions, facing the FATF of Moneyval, who have found problems. We need to address this issue not just in terms of our EU integration agenda, but in terms of our agenda to fight organized crime. Because the fight against organized crime is one of the highest priorities of the Albanian government, as well as the precondition for the development of the country. It is a precondition for the socio-economic development of the country. "We believe that this memorandum is an added contribution, and I believe it will be an added value in our inter-institutional commitment in the fight against organized crime.", - continues the Minister of Interior.
"This memorandum addresses both Albania's integration ambition in European structures, and our priorities for the socio-economic development of the country and for the fight against crime. Important to me in this memorandum is the fact that this is not just a statement of good intentions, but is also accompanied by the necessary instruments for its implementation. And this is the essence and for this I find the opportunity to congratulate those who have contributed to the wording of the text, which is a text that deserves appreciation, "said Lleshaj.
"So the construction of joint instruments and the creation of a central structure, which will have the mission of monitoring joint efforts, their coordination, is the added value in this process. The important thing is that this structure becomes efficient an hour ago and each of us must strongly support its functioning because this for me is the key, - a common structure that makes us see the situation together, to we jointly monitor, report and analyze jointly as well as exchange best practices and coordinate all activities in function of this goal, "said Minister Lleshaj.
"The Ministry of Interior, its structures will be fully in function of the implementation of this memorandum, engaging all human capacities, logistics, etc., with full confidence that through this way we will be able to make a qualitative change in our approach in the fight against crime. "And we will be able to report significant successes soon," he said.
"I can tell you that the Ministry of Interior, the State Police has the first priority, - by far, is the fight against economic-financial crime and money laundering. In view of this priority, significant capacities have been built. A specialized unit for the fight against economic crime has been built. Another unit, information, has been built, which is in charge of collecting information and processing it. Also, a specialized unit for the fight against cybercrime, which in fact are interconnected with each other, but are 3 new capacities, which are added to the existing ones ", - stressed the Minister of Interior.
Lleshaj said that the State Police is investing in human resources. "On the other hand, we are working hard to increase the level of human resources engaged in this war. This is a fight that is done in other ways, not in traditional ways and requires professional staff specially trained for this job. "In view of this, we have recruited two generations of excellent students from the university, who have graduated in economics, finance, banking, informatics and have passed a nearly 1-year training cycle at the Security Academy in the field of investigation," said Lleshaj. .
"We already believe that with these new streams of professionals, combined with the professionals that already exist in our structures, which have with them the experience, thus combining the experience of the older with the expertise, momentum and new energy of the young, "By putting them in the framework of appropriate structures, even like the one we are doing today, we believe that we will give a new important impetus to the fight against crime in general and the economic-financial one in particular," he said. .
Lleshaj also spoke about OFL. "I am also mentioning the great contribution that Operation Force of Law plays in this function, which already operates on the basis of a special law, an operation which basically aims at the fight against economic-financial crime, against money secured criminally. and assets generated through criminal means, ”he said.
"All these new instruments, not only show a new will, but show increased capacities and the whole art is how we can use these increased capacities already. You can create capacities, but if they are not used properly, they will not necessarily bring the expected result. Therefore, I say that this memorandum is a useful instrument and it is important that the continuation of the joint work for the implementation, for its serious implementation, in a sustainable way. This is the biggest challenge we have, stability in the process ", - concluded Lleshaj.
Signatories of this memorandum were also the General Director of the State Police, the General Director of the General Directorate of Prevention of Money Laundering, the General Director of the General Directorate of Customs, the General Director of the General Directorate of Taxes and the Chief Administrator of the Agency of the Administration of Sequestrated and Confiscated Assets.