Sir Rob Wainwright Encourages ‘Powering Up’ Information, Intelligence Sharing


Europe is losing the fight against dirty money, said the former executive director of Europol, but it could make great strides if all law enforcement and investigative sectors “power up their cooperation” in information sharing and intelligence across all borders. During the Monday Opening Session Sir Rob Wainwright received the 2018 Cressey Award for a lifetime of achievement in the detection and deterrence of fraud. (Wainwright was recently awarded a Knighthood by the Queen in the Birthday Honours List for service to the U.K.)

“In the last two years I’ve been exorcised by how we’ve failed to adequately deal with the flows of dirty money in our international financial system,” said Wainwright.

“We’ve all had the right vision the last two or three decades,” he said. But for all the billions spent on fighting money laundering, Europe is seeing only a 1 percent annual return. “It’s no better in the United States. No better in Australia. The design is wrong in my opinion,” he said. “Instead of focusing the intelligence efforts on identifying the most likely offenders we base our system on voluminous high-end transaction monitoring. …

“So we need to wake up the system and work together in order that the banks, and the regulators and the governments and legislatures, understand that the great vision we have isn’t working. We’ve designed this compliance system, and it’s become an end in itself. … The compliance regime is very powerful; I just think it needs to be used in a different way.”

Wainwright explained that the convergence of criminal terrorism and cybercrime, which has also become an exceedingly urgent problem in the European Union, is shaped by three conditions:

1. Exploitation of technology. “New technologies … are changing the paradigm of crime. Today’s drug trafficker, drug pusher is less likely to be seen on the street corner or outside the school playground. He’s sitting in the comfort of his home.” He can use the dark spaces of the internet to ply his trade around the world, Wainwright said.

2. Growing convergence of actors. “In the criminal space, we’ve seen the gradual shift from Mafia-like hierarchies … to much more enterprising groups … working across ethnic boundaries, national boundaries,” Wainwright said. These diverse groups are sharing their enterprises and skill sets to become more successful international criminal organizations. He said that Europol is increasingly investigating cases in which cybercrime groups are funneling money back to terrorist groups around the world.

3. Increasing ways it has become more cross-border and international. According to Wainwright, highly mobile global criminal groups sweep into U.K. neigborhoods, rob houses and quickly exit, which baffles local law enforcement.

Wainwright, who took the Europol helm in 2009, left the organization to become a senior cyber partner this month in Deloitte’s Amsterdam-based cybersecurity practice. “As I join the private sector, I seek a new challenge. I seek the opportunity to more directly help industries.”

Wainwright said that he knows the attendees “live and breathe the values” of effective information and intelligence sharing among law enforcement and investigative sectors. “I’m proud to be associated with the work that you do.”