INTERPOL-supported financial crime operation: Irish police dismantle local network operating worldwide

10 November 2021
First INTERPOL financial crime field operation

An INTERPOL operational team deployed to Dublin for financial crime investigations into local organized crime networks has seen national police make global connections and identify suspects worldwide.

At the request of the INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Dublin, INTERPOL’s Global Financial Crime Task Force (IGFCTF) provided on-the-ground support to the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) (19 - 21 October) as part of Operation Skein, Ireland’s 18-month long nationwide investigation into an Irish based transnational criminal organization engaged in financial crime.

The INTERPOL task force enabled GNECB to share investigative intelligence with police forces in all continents using INTERPOL’s secure global police communications network called I-24/7.

Permitting Ireland’s national police – or “An Garda Sìochàna” – to take their investigations beyond national borders served to establish investigative connections in all continents, and provide insight into how and where these criminal gangs are operating.

Arrests and prosecutions outside of Ireland are foreseen as ongoing investigations unfold.

Mapping out the global picture

Using INTERPOL forensic data analytical capabilities, INTERPOL helped Garda police download data and call records from phones and computers seized during the course of Operation Skein investigations.

Evidence extracted is currently being analyzed by INTERPOL with a global lens to help identify and target the principal global protagonists, and provide further insight on how they carry out these cyber enabled financial crimes.

Some of the data collected during the operation has triggered cooperative investigations between the US and South Africa, with the support of INTERPOL’s financial crime task force.

A sample of other cases triggered by the operation are believed to have links with the West African organized crime group “Black Axe” which is thought to be responsible for similar cyber enabled attacks on a global level.

Ireland’s Operation Skein

Garda has been investigating an organized crime gang engaging in a wide range of serious financial crime across Ireland for several years.

Crimes include business email compromise, invoice re-direct fraud and laundering of the proceeds of these frauds through bank accounts in Ireland and other countries.

Eighteen months of intense Garda investigations revealed that this network had allegedly stolen more than €14 million from Irish businesses and citizens, laundering at least €7 - €8 million via ‘mule’ bank accounts in banks all over the world.

INTERPOL created the Global Financial Crime Task Force (IGFCTF) in 2020 with member countries in order to enhance international cooperation and innovation with public and private sector partners, focusing on cyber enabled fraud, money laundering schemes and Covid-19 related crimes.

Countries involved