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Police on the Lookout for Money Laundering
Criminals rush for Euros
Sanomat (centrist), Helsinki, Finland, October 1, 2001.
Translated and posted to Worldpress.org,
Nov. 30, 2001.
The police are
faced with the extraordinary task of tracking large amounts
of illicit funds during the changeover to the common European
currency, the euro.
By the beginning of March, all drug money and black market earnings
must be exchanged into euros. The police estimate that the amount
of illicit, criminally obtained money in Finland amounts to
billions of Finnish markka. Most of this money is in cash. Police
are aware of an additional 2 billion markka obtained through
white-collar crime. But this is only the tip of the iceberg,
police sayan estimated 90 percent of white-collar crimes
The National Bureau of Investigation now expects that notifications
of suspected money laundering will increase near the end of
the year as members of the underworld notice they need to exchange
their illicit funds into euros or other currencies.
However, the police admit that many criminals have prepared
for the introduction of the common currency for a long time.
The police have received some 2,000 notifications of suspected
money laundering this year, up from 1,000 last year. Around
10 percent of the notifications lead to police investigations.
According to the information from the police, considerable sums
of illicit money have lately been exchanged into U.S. dollars
and Swedish krona. Illicit funds have also been transferred
abroad, invested in real estate and various securities. The
police are surprised that real estate brokers have submitted
only two notices of suspected money laundering this year. Large
amounts of illicit funds normally trade hands in the real estate
business, particularly in cash.
Money laundering is difficult to trace in our modern society
as most money transfers are electronic. Hundreds of thousands
of transactions take place in Finnish bank accounts each day.
It is nearly impossible for banks to recognize which transfers
involve illicit funds.