New AI technology can empower the fight against criminals and terrorists by tracking their illicit money flows

Thursday 09 December 2021

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Coordinated by Coventry University’s Professor Umut Turksen, 17 partners from across Europe have joined forces to launch TRACE, a €7 million Horizon 2020 project to support the investigation of illicit money flows through the co-development of cutting-edge AI technology tools.

Within a three-year life span, the TRACE project will look to provide law enforcement agencies with a solution to better identify and disrupt illicit money trails.

It is a major challenge to develop an evidence-based and shared understanding of illicit money flows as crime networks operate on a global scale. We see, therefore, an urgent need for establishing risk profiles and intelligence based on real-time analysis of such illicit money flows. TRACE responds to this challenge by providing a flexible open-source platform to detect and analyse cross-border money trails used by criminals and terrorists.

Professor Umut Turksen, Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity, Project Coordinator of TRACE

The project was launched in July 2021 by representatives in collaborating organisations which included law enforcement agencies, tax authorities, research centres, universities and non-governmental organisations from across Europe, as well as a representative from the European Commission.

As organised crime networks operate across borders, use legal loopholes and advanced technology, it is notoriously difficult to detect and trace hidden and illicit money flows.

The TRACE consortium will co‐create innovative data management solutions combined with AI analytics to enhance the capabilities of law enforcement agencies in tracing and recovering illicit money flows and generating court‐proof e‐evidence. TRACE will focus on these key aspects:

  • Co-developing and validating innovative technologies to detect and analyse cross-border money flows used by criminals and terrorists
  • Increasing efficiency and effectiveness of information sharing among European Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) to better respond to cross-border financial crimes
  • Designing and testing innovative training materials for LEAs across Europe
  • Maintaining European societal values and fundamental rights by adopting a co-creative and ethics-by-design approach in technology development

The project will look to deliver a modular open-source framework for money-laundering investigations which can be tailored to meet LEA end-user needs. It will enable investigators to scrape data from databases and the World Wide Web in many languages; translate the text into English, analyse it and showcase the results with the help of visualisation technology.

TRACE’s solution aims to increase the efficiency of information sharing among European LEAs and enhance their innovation potential in detecting and combatting money-laundering operations and financing of organised crime and terrorism.

Find out more about Umut and the Centre for Financial and Corporate Integrity.

Consortium Members
Coventry University, Trilateral Research (UK), AIT Austrian Institute of Technology (Austria), Ertzaintza Basque local police (Spain), NOVA University of Lisbon (Portugal), Aston University (UK), Tax Justice Network (UK), CIN Consult (Austria), Proflow (Austria), PrivaNova (France), the Department of Policing at the University of Applied Sciences for Public Service in Bavaria (Germany), Vicesse – Vienna Centre for Societal Security (Austria), National Organised Crime Agency (Czech Republic), FINOPZ (UK), Tax and Customs Board (Estonia), SYSTRAN (France), Expert System Iberia (Spain).