OPERATION SENTINEL was launched this week, October 15, by Europol in a bid to combat an anticipated wave of fraud as almost 807 billion euros of Covid-19 relief funds are distributed.
And Spain is one of the key contributors in the multinational task force of 19 countries.
Launched at Europol in The Hague, Holland, the operation will form a major part of the focussed response to an expected fraud wave, once funds are released throughout Europe.
Activities will run for at least a year and will be based on proactive intelligence sharing, information exchange and supporting the coordination of anti-fraud operations.
Catherine de Bolle, Europol’s Executive Director, said: ‘Preventing serious cross-border crime is at the heart of Europol’s mandate, and we are fully committed to supporting the Member States in fighting any attempt by organised crime to infiltrate the EU legal economy and the NextGenerationEU [Covid Relief] fund.
Insisting: “Any threat to the NextGenerationEU is a direct threat to the EU and its people. Operation Sentinel will strengthen our joint response to fraud and protect the reconstruction of our communities.”
The European Union will be releasing a total of € 806.9 billion to support EU countries in repairing devastating economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As financial crime from within the EU and beyond evolves and intensifies, it becomes more difficult to detect.
Operation Sentinel is designed to combat that, with multiple coordinated activities to target fraud, tax evasion, excise fraud, corruption, embezzlement, misappropriation and money laundering.
Four EU entities and authorities from 19 EU Member States have joined forces as part of Operation Sentinel to ensure the recovery funds are directed towards strengthening our economies and the resilience of our communities.
The participating countries are Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
What is EUROPOL?
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation, better known under the name Europol, formerly the European Police Office and Europol Drugs Unit, is the law enforcement agency of the European Union (EU) formed in 1998 to handle criminal intelligence and combat serious international organised crime and terrorism through cooperation between competent authorities of EU member states.