The European civil liberties committee has approved measures to allow financial investigation authorities to access financial information in the investigation of serious crime and terrorism.
The Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) voted to improve access to financial data for law enforcement authorities in order to facilitate the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of serious crimes, including terrorism and gang activity. In addition to allowing greater scope for financial investigation bodies to access information, the new rules enable efficient and timely cross-border cooperation between law enforcement bodies in EU Member States.
Detailing the need for improved access for financial investigation bodies, the proposal states: “There is a need to find quicker and more effective ways to access and exchange information on bank accounts, financial information and financial analysis. An increased number of successful criminal investigations will result in an increased number of convictions and asset confiscations. This will contribute to disrupting criminal activities and increasing the security in the Member States and across the Union.”
Under the new rules, financial investigation and law enforcement authorities will be better able to:
- Access financial information and bank accounts on a case-by-case basis in investigations of serious crimes and terrorism;
- Communicate and cooperate with law enforcement bodies in other Member States and the national Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), sharing information pertinent to the investigation of serious crimes; and
- Provide deadlines for the exchange of information, in order to speed up and streamline the financial investigation process.
Rapporteur Emil Radev said: “The fight against serious crime often depends on timely access to information and on how well competent authorities understand money flows. That is why we need to strengthen the cooperation between financial intelligence units and competent authorities, while preserving their operational independence and autonomy.”
The report will now be passed to the European Parliament for approval.