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Developing AI Solutions to Disrupt Illicit Money Flows

Welcome to the TRACE project's fourth newsletter issue!

Every year, cross-border investigations into illicit money flows are hindered by fragmented e-evidence. The TRACE project addresses this issue by delivering a modular open-source framework for money-laundering investigations which can be tailored to meet the needs of law enforcement agencies.

In this fourth edition of our newsletter, we summarise key progress, publications, and partnerships from the TRACE project.

Project updates

Online gambling enables money laundering – TRACE offers a solution

Online gambling is a growing market worth around USD 53.7 billion a year, but it also poses significant risks for financial crime, including money laundering, fraud and terrorism financing. The problem of online gambling has been transformed by the advent of smartphones, with the temptation to gamble now everywhere in society. The UK government has introduced a gambling White Paper for the digital age (High stakes: gambling reform for the digital age), which proposes a reform blueprint covering six key areas. In this press release, TRACE partners Dr Bogdan Adamyk and Professor Vladlena Benson, from Aston University, explore the proposed reforms and how TRACE fits in.


Knowledge Graphs and the advantage of crowd knowledge in criminal investigations

In today’s information-driven society, data is generated and consumed at an unprecedented rate. However, this data is often siloed in different systems and formats, making it difficult to extract insights or understand it comprehensively. Knowledge Graphs (KGs) are an emerging technology that can help law enforcement agencies (LEAs) unlock the value of their data. TRACE partner Adriane Röckelein from Proflow tells us more. 


TRACE training programme is now in development

TRACE has started its training phase, preparing resources and sessions for law enforcement, legal practitioners, and financial regulators to show how our insights and technology can be used to tackle money laundering and illicit money flows. Theoretical and technical material is being developed now. Stay tuned for updates on our new resources and training events over the coming months.


Cross-border access to electronic evidence: is there any light at the end of the tunnel?

With a substantial number of criminal activities, ranging from attacks against information systems to ‘old-school’ fraud and extortion, taking place in online settings, electronic information can be an important source of investigative leads. However, both the definition of the term ‘electronic evidence’ (e-evidence) and the relevant criminal procedural approaches continue to vary at national level. At the same time, the process of regulating cross-border access to e-evidence for law enforcement purposes at transnational level has proven equally cumbersome. In this blog, TRACE partner Professor Athina Sachoulidou from the NOVA School of Law discusses important new rules for the sharing of electronic evidence internationally. 


The system architecture of the TRACE tool

The TRACE tool is designed to enable LEAs to make sense out of voluminous publicly available data by means of, inter alia, user-friendly knowledge graphs. It will use these functions to track IMFs (illicit money flows), which are often derived from a well processed network structure. In order for the TRACE tool to deliver great outputs it must be built on a system architecture that can keep up with ever-changing requirements. The system characteristics in our TRACE tool prioritise scalability, modularity, robustness, performance, integrability, and maintainability. Let’s take a closer look at each of these features and their impact, with TRACE partner Adriane Röckelein from Proflow.



Artificial Intelligence in Law Enforcement Settings

Professors Dimitrios Kafteranis, Athina Sachoulidou, and Umut Turksen discuss the challenges faced by law enforcement authorities in adopting AI-driven investigative tools and how TRACE has engaged with these issues. Read the full article in eucrim here.


Comparative report on SWIFT data in the EU27

Markus Meinzer, Moran Hariri, Florencia Lorenzo, and Andres Knobel from TRACE partners the Tax Justice Network outline the impacts, potential, and shortcomings of the SWIFT global financial messaging system.


Art of Money Laundering with Non-Fungible Tokens: A myth or reality?

Professors Dimitrios Kafteranis and Umut Turksen evaluate the evolution of money laundering and the new role of NFTs. Read their CEPOL article here.


Harnessing AI for due diligence in CBI Programmes. Legal and Ethical Challenges

Jeiel Joseph and Professor Umut Turksen explore the merits of AI for managing the risks of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programmes. Read their article in the Journal of Ethics and Legal Technologies.


Introducing the Financial Crime Cluster

TRACE is pleased to announce its membership of a new Financial Crime Cluster, alongside the Horizon research projects Cut the Cord and CEASEFIRE. These projects share comparable aims and end-users, and you can read more about them here. Stay tuned for further details on this collaboration.

Ceasefire (Advanced versatile artificial intelligence technologies and interconnected cross-sectoral fully-operational national focal points for combating illicit firearms trafficking) is an EC-funded Horizon Europe Innovation Action that launched in October 2023. It has been designed to improve the crime-fighting ability of European nations using modern technology. Bringing together 21 expert partners from across Europe, under the coordination of the Centre for Research and Technology – Hellas (CERTH, Greece), it is a three-year R&D project focused on combating firearms trafficking. Firearms trafficking holds a prominent position at the forefront of organised crime activities in Europe. Ceasefire will develop a highly innovative, holistic, multi-disciplinary, high-tech and versatile approach for aiding EU Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) in their struggle to detect, analyse and track cross-border illicit firearms trafficking. It will deliver relevant, advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools and will establish fully-operational National Focal Points (NFPs), aiming to increase LEA operational capabilities and alleviate existing organisational, cooperation, cross-jurisdictional, trans-border and information exchange challenges. ‚Äč

Cut The Cord - CTC (GA 101036276) project is a 30-month EU-ISF-police-funded project that kicked off in November 2021. Its consortium consists of 10 partners from across Europe, with the aims of preventing and disrupting terrorism financing through a public-private cooperation enhancement, capacity building, and preparedness of end-users regarding Countering Terrorism Financing. CTC will provide technical solutions based on Artificial Intelligence tools for data acquisition and analysis of financial transactions (e.g. cryptocurrency transactions). To achieve these objectives and maximise the applicability and usability of CTC, the project aspires to form a strong Stakeholder Community, with members from key group audiences such as Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs), Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs), Financial Authorities and payment services, cryptocurrency and Anti-Money Laundering organisations, policymakers and more.


LEA Cluster updates

Recognising that our projects have common stakeholders and similar objectives in supporting law enforcement against organised crime and terrorism, we have formed the LEA Cluster with other Horizon projects including: CCDriver, COPKIT, Cybercrime Exit, CYBERSPACE, CYCLOPES, DARLENE, FREETOOL, HEROES, INSPECTr, LAWGAME, LOCARD, NOTIONES, PREVISION, PROTAX, RAYUELA, ROXANNE, STARLIGHT, and Tools4LEAs

We’d love to hear from you! The Horizon 2020 project DARLENE is investigating how cutting-edge augmented reality (AR) technology can be deployed to help law enforcement agencies (LEAs) make more informed and rapid decisions when responding to live criminal and terrorist incidents. We want to know how you (citizen) perceive modern #technology and #AugmentedReality tools used by LEAs. If you want to contribute to this integral part of the project and our research (i.e. assessing the societal impact of DARLENE to make the technology socially acceptable and more ethical), please fill out our survey here. The survey will take around 20 minutes to complete. We appreciate your contribution!


RAYUELA has released the final version of its game, with six cyberadventures (covering cyberbullying, online grooming, technological risks and fake news) supported in more than ten languages. The project is now carrying out its third and final piloting phase, which is open for the participation of relevant stakeholders such as LEAs all over Europe or the members of the INSAFE network.


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 883543.


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