Europol, in its function as the permanent Secretariat of CARIN, co-organised the annual CARIN meeting which was held in Sofia between 15–16 September 2011. The AGM was hosted by the CARIN Presidency of Bulgaria, through the activities of the then Bulgarian Commission for the Establishment of Property Acquired from Criminal Activity (CEPACA), together with partners Hungary and Spain. This agency has since become the Commission for Withdrawal of Criminal Assets (CIAF) and is the National Asset Recovery Office.
"Targeting Unexplained Wealth" was the focus for the 100 CARIN experts present.
The Chairperson of CEPACA Todor Kolarov focused at the press conference on the improvement of the cooperation between the CARIN members in terms of achieving a better preventive effect in asset tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation in each country and also at international level. The topic of "Targeting Unexplained Wealth", outlined Kolarov, was important not only to Bulgaria, but to all CARIN members.
The 2012 AGM was held in the Star Auditorium of the Danubius Health Spa Resort Margitsziget in Budapest on the 8 November 2012. A total of 44 countries (including Canada, USA, Australia, Indonesia, and South Korea) and 90 delegates took part in the meeting. Delegates received a brief presentation on assets recovery cases in Hungary. They then received presentations on case studies and assets recovery topics with delegates breaking into 5 workshops to draw on past experience and knowledge of delegates, and to forster closer cooperation between police and prosecutors both at a national and international level.
The 2013 AGM took take place in Dublin (Ireland) from 16 to 17 May 2013 at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Opening the AGM, the Irish Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD, noted:
"The UN estimates that the total amount of criminal proceeds generated in 2009 may have been as much as $2.1 trillion, or 3.6 per cent of global GDP in that year. Despite the best efforts by law enforcement agencies, unfortunately, much of the illegal profits generated worldwide remain in the hands of criminals, their associates, their friends and families. To allow such a situation to go unchecked or unchallenged would be a failing. It is entirely unacceptable to our sense of justice that those who engage in criminality, or those who may be associated with such persons, should reap significant rewards from criminality and enjoy lifestyles well beyond their legitimate means. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure that we continue to take all steps open to us to bring about a more effective and challenging response to this reality.
The theme of this years CARIN conference – "recognition and implementation of alternative strategies in targeting the proceeds of crime" is particularly pertinent given the ever developing methods for the generation and concealment of unlawful financial gains. Asset recovery agencies work in a very dynamic and complex environment where the effects of globalisation, in society and in the way we communicate and do business, are exploited to provide new opportunities for illicit gain, and to conceal the proceeds of crime behind a façade of legitimacy. We too must therefore stand armed with the necessary tools and knowledge to keep pace with such developments. Of course, in such a complex and globalised environment no one can act in isolation. We need to share the wealth of information that you the practitioners have gained in this area and harness that information to inform future strategies. The Network provides a wonderful opportunity for experts to come together and do just that."
The 2014 AGM took place in Santiago de Compostela in October 2014. In opening the AGM, the Director General of the Spanish Police, Ignacia Cosidó, stressed in his speech that "the message to criminal groups and organisations is clear: crime is not profitable; and that the fight against money laundering is a priority for the governments of our nations." The AGM discussed “New Trends in the Exchange of Financial Intelligence with Onshore and Offshore Financial Centres: Fostering Best Practice and Technical Assistance in Asset Recovery”. CARIN members concluded a number of outcomes and recommendations in relation to:
Difficulties with the use of information and intelligence in judicial proceedings.
Investigation and seizure issues in consideration of the victim.
Beneficial ownership challenges and developments: Identifying ‘straw-men’. The issue in practice.
Virtual currencies – how to identify crypto-currencies and what to do to seize the asset.
Seizing assets for profit or social re-use purposes.
The 2015 AGM took place in St. Peter Port, Guernsey, on 8 and 9 October, hosted by the 2015 CARIN Presidency of Guernsey. Guernsey is a Crown Dependency of the United Kingdom, a long-standing and active member of CARIN, and has been a member of the Steering Committee for over five years. Howard Roberts QC, HM Procureur said:
“Combating financial crime requires a global effort and it is hugely important that Guernsey authorities have the ability to engage and work with colleagues globally. It is an honour to follow Spain and precede the Netherlands in holding the CARIN presidency. The number of experts that will attend from member jurisdictions and international organisations demonstrates how important this meeting and the subject matter is. The meetings and presentations ensure that knowledge can be shared, and that Guernsey and its international partners can build upon expertise around asset recovery. I am sure that in the meetings in Guernsey will help us to build new and stronger relationships with the 108 other jurisdictions that will be represented. This event helps achieve that, and strengthens Guernsey’s access to financial investigators, specialist prosecutors, magistrates and judges spanning six continents.”
Chief Minister, Jonathan Le Tocq said:
“Guernsey’s commitment to asset recovery is a demonstration of our drive to help fight financial crime and to support our international partners. Importantly, work on asset recovery benefits developing countries, such as many of our partners in the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. It supports the development work we do, as well as our active participation on global tax transparency initiatives. In short, we are playing our part in fighting borderless crime. “Guernsey’s authorities do a superb job in fighting financial crime and I know that the Law Officers and Law Enforcement are widely respected internationally for the work that they do. Holding the CARIN Presidency this year is testament to Guernsey’s standing on fighting financial crime.”
At their annual meeting CARIN discussed “The Global Identification of Assets and their Recovery in International Financial Centres”. CARIN members concluded a number of outcomes and recommendations in relation to;
Progressing asset recovery using Joint Investigation Teams (JITs) and parallel investigations.
The practical aspects of investigating ‘beneficial ownership’ issues for the purpose of asset identification, freezing, seizure and confiscation.
The 2016 AGM took place in Rotterdam , on 26 and 27 May, hosted by the 2016 CARIN Presidency of The Netherlands. The 170 participants listened to the opening speech by Minister of Security and Justice Ard van der Steur. He said that the CARIN conference, in a way, returned home, because it was in the Netherlands nearly twelve years ago – in September 2004 – that the very first CARIN Conference took place. He was pleased to see that the network now has 62 members and that including its sister organisations – the CARIN Styled Bodies - the network now covers even more than 110 countries/jurisdictions.
He stressed that cooperation within CARIN is of great value:
“All things considered, we have taken international cooperation on confiscating the proceeds of crime to a higher level. Thanks in large part to the CARIN network – and in my opinion that merits congratulations! But we still face plenty of old and new challenges. Because criminals always find a way – we see it all the time. New forms of crime emerge with new developments in technology and society. And criminals find new ways to secure the proceeds of their illegal activities. I would urge you all to face these challenges head on. This conference isn’t called ‘Making an impact on asset recovery’ for nothing. The key is to further intensify that cooperation. And continue encouraging each other to keep searching for methods to cut criminals off at the pass. Smart and effective methods, now and in the future.”
After this opening speech the European Commission gave an update relating to relevant European legislation, Europol and Eurojust described their facilitating role in international confiscation and a very imaginative case of dumping waste in third world countries and the possibilities of confiscation in that case was presented.
During the breaks there was the possibility to take attention of some innovative applications for confiscation such as the afpakapp (confiscation app), the seized goods portal, the virtual confiscation education tool Troy, the assistance of the Advanced Search Team of the Army, Bitcoins Debit and Credit cards and finally the EBOCS system, allowing information from Chambers Commerce from various countries linked together.
During the workshops the participants discussed topics like how to organize an EU way of exchanging information and to improve the exchange of information, the possibilities for expanding the use of the Swedish initiative and the spontaneous flow of information, a better registration of international confiscation including an alternative way of cross border asset management and a multidisciplinary approach to confiscation: How to improve asset recovery with all governmental institutions working together and disruption through joint agency cooperation.