Navigation path

Financial investigation

Given the increasing risk of penetration of the licit economy by serious and organised crime, financial investigation is an essential tool of a modern and effective response to criminal threats including terrorism financing.

It can provide new prosecutable evidence of criminal activities, map out entire criminal networks including in their transnational ramifications and is key in developing preventive and proactive actions through the design of detection and monitoring tools.

Developing parallel financial investigations in all serious crime cases

Financial investigation bears a proactive and preventive added value. It it is an important tool to detect Money Laundering (ML), Terrorist Financing (TF) and other serious crimes. It can be used against all criminal markets.

In many cases, financial investigations are necessary to develop evidence against sophisticated, high-level criminals with a view to dismantling transnational and organised crime networks. Financial investigations can also contribute to a jurisdiction’s National Risk Assessment as it provides knowledge on crime patterns.

Its benefits are obvious in assisting the criminal investigation against all serious and organised criminals by:

  • Identifying motives, associations and links to people and places;
  • Identifying the use of other services such as phones, transport and amenities relevant to the case;
  • Locating or identifying suspects, witnesses or victims;
  • Providing information on a suspect’s movements (proactive, covert use of financial information);
  • Providing information to address the issue of prolific and priority offenders where no previous method has been successful;
  • Tracing persons including missing ones.

More mobile, more flexible and better integrated into international criminal networks, organised criminals now seek, given the increasing pressure of law enforcement, to better penetrate the legal sphere so as to develop their predatory activities.

The advantages of the economic and financial sphere are clear. There is no fingerprint, no DNA trace, no crime scene and no witness, hence no evidence, therefore no conviction. However, as criminals learned to rely on financial transactions and economic relations, so the financial system and an overall economic environment now provide concrete opportunities to tackle organized criminals.

If the penetration of the licit economy by modern criminal threats is clearly acknowledged, white collar crimes remain difficult to prosecute. Hence a growing gap between evolution of modern-day criminals and the law enforcement response. Thus, the need to step up  capabilities and know-how in the domain.

Enhancing financial investigation capacities

EU States have agreed to make financial investigations a fundamental component of all counter-terrorism investigations (EU revised Strategy on Terrorist Financing ). Discussions on the implementation of some international agreements (e.g. the UN Convention against Corruption, the Council of Europe Medicrime Convention or the G8 action plan on cocaine maritime routes) also stress the need to enhance financial investigations and financial criminal analyses in all phases of a criminal investigation and prosecution.

Despite the implementation of legislation related to money laundering the results in terms of convictions are unsatisfactory. The Commission intends to support the integration of financial investigation and financial criminal analysis so as to become a standard part of the investigation a law enforcement technique throughout the Member States for all serious and organised crime (not only financial crimes) cases.

Additional tools

N 090126248f081bc8 /dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/financial-investigation/index_en.htm 4142 xml Y /dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/financial-investigation/index_en.htm /dgs/home-affairs/e-library/documents/policies/organized-crime-and-human-trafficking/financial-investigation/index_zz.htm N ID_INTERNAL N N
Related legislation
and documents


  • A communication on a European Strategy for financial investigation and financial and criminal analysis is planned for 2012.


Terrorist financing

The provision or collection of funds, by any means, directly or indirectly, with the intention that they should be ...



In the absence of a generally accepted definition under international law, “terrorism” can be defined as ...


Money laundering

The attempt to conceal or disguise the ownership or source of the proceeds of criminal activity and to integrate ...


Criminal proceeds

Any economic advantage from criminal offences. It may consist of any form of property, whether corporeal or ...



A penalty or measure, ordered by a court following proceedings in relation to a criminal offence or criminal offences ...