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Berenschot presents at international Flying Money conference in Amsterdam about ‘anti-organised crime fund’

25 May 2018

At the Flying Money conference in Amsterdam on May 24th, Berenschot facilitated a workshop on the legal and financial possibilities to create and effectively govern an ‘anti-organised crime fund’.  In many countries, including the Netherlands, very little needs to change from a legal perspective to make such a fund possible. What is required is the political will and sense of urgency for this type of initiative to succeed.

The Flying Money conference

At the Flying Money conference, organised by the municipality of Amsterdam in partnership with the research group Network Cultures of the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, international experts from a wide range of organizations and communities discussed ethical and technical questions related to illicit financial flows. Berenschot gave a workshop about re-investing confiscated criminal assets in institutions and society. The workshop was based on policy research conducted for the Regional Mayors Bureau (“Bureau Regioburgemeesters”) into the possibility to create an 'anti-organized crime fund' in the Netherlands. Giulia Baruzzo from Libera, an Italian civil society network that coordinates social activities funded through confiscated assets, complemented the lecture given by Berenschot with examples from the field.

The logic of confiscating and redirecting criminal assets

The idea that crime might pay off and no or insufficient measures are taken to reduce and deter crime puts public faith in governments and the rule of law at stake. According to Philip van Veller, one of the authors of the report, ‘’there is a simple logic behind it: hit criminals where it hurts, which is their bank account and the loss of status that comes with confiscating their criminally obtained assets.’’ Besides having a direct effect on perpetrators, asset confiscation, when made visible, may also trigger a preventive effect of much broader social value: the notion that crime does not pay off. ‘’The core of fighting undermining crime by confiscating assets does not merely lie in financial effects, but possibly even more so in the social effects and associated public value’’, says Philip van Veller.

A European perspective on ‘anti-organised crime funds’

The idea of setting up an anti-organised crime fund is not unique to the Netherlands. A number of European cases have some type of fund in place to redirect confiscated criminal assets into communities. The policy research includes case studies of Italy, Spain, Scotland, France and Luxemburg, which vary in scope, size, governance structure and ways of reinvesting criminal assets in the affected communities. No ‘magic bullet’ exists when it comes to the ideal setup of the fund. A trial and error process may help an original setup develop incrementally towards a sustainable model to be used over the long term. Systematic monitoring and evaluation of how the fund works in practice is key to enable learning from experiences and improving the fund over time: a necessary condition to allow for successful incremental development.

For more information, download the English management summary of the policy research: Towards an anti-organised crime fund.

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