Nine people are proposed for arrest in an investigation in which there are suspicions that 70 million euros, money from crimes, were laundered by a cross-border network through shell companies established in Romania.

The money was laundered through front companies opened in Romania. Photo: DIICOT

On Tuesday, DIICOT prosecutors carried out 13 searches in Bucharest and Călărași, in a case concerning money laundering from computer fraud and deception. Simultaneously, there were searches in Sweden (4) and the Republic of Moldova (8). Specifically, according to DIICOT, between February 2018 and January 2021, an organized group specialized in money laundering activities was formed and developed on the territory of Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and Hungary. Nine people are proposed for arrest, and another is investigated under judicial control.

Investigators allege the group provided individuals, front companies, bank accounts and a vast infrastructure to other criminal groups to move, hide and launder crime proceeds.

Shell companies were opened in Romania

“For this purpose, citizens from other European countries (Ukrainians, Moldovans, Swedes) moved to the territory of Romania, in order to establish commercial companies intended to commit crimes (without a real object of activity, valid for one year and with registered office at a law office).Bank accounts were subsequently opened in the name of these commercial companies, obtaining bank cards and access to the online banking service.

The criminal activity of the group was permanently focused on the provision of money laundering services resulting from fraud and computer fraud, with two modes of operation identified for the predicate crimes:

-CEO Fraud/BEC Fraud (Business E-mail Compromise Fraud), represented by an IT fraud or, as the case may be, deception directed against legal entities (firm, company, holding company, etc.), from Europe, Australia, North America, America South and sometimes Asia;

-deceptions, based on investments in risk capital on unregulated trading platforms in the European Union, directed against individuals, who were attracted by various methods of social engineering to invest through a “broker” on such platforms and, subsequently, they were dispossessed, by various means, of the deposited funds”, reports DIICOT.

The prosecutors say that the money obtained was transferred through shell companies to accounts in Europe and later arrived in the accounts of companies in Romania, being later redirected to companies controlled by intermediaries in Hong Kong and Israel.

“We specify the fact that the volume of transactions that are the subject of criminal investigation activities exceeds the amount of 70 million euros, some transfers being greater than 3 million euros. The total value of the assets in question is more than 5 million USD” , informs DIICOT.

Judicial cooperation was facilitated by EUROJUST and EUROPOL, an agreement was concluded, through EUROJUST, on the establishment of a joint investigation team with the judicial authorities of Ukraine and Italy. Around 100 requests for international legal assistance and European investigation orders have also been made, anti-mafia prosecutors say.

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