The EMERITUS, DATACROS II and KLEPTOTRACE projects: the road to collaboration

The benefits of broadening the scope of security projects beyond their normal boundaries

Waste crimes often stem from strong economic motivations and are often carried out by entrepreneurs through their own companies to cut down on the expenses related to waste treatment and disposal, with the goal of maximising profits. Even when organised crime groups or mafia-type organisations are involved in illegal waste management, trafficking, or disposal, the involvement in such activities is intertwined with the services they offer to businesses seeking to unlawfully dispose of their waste or with the exploitation of infiltrated companies in the waste sector to secure public contracts. 

The link between the EMERITUS project on the one hand and the DATACROS II and KLEPTOTRACE projects on the other hand is underscored by looking at waste crimes through the lens of corporate crimes, where criminals leverage their companies to carry out illegal activities, relying on corruption and fraud to avoid detection.  

EMERITUS aims to develop a unified platform to enhance the investigative capabilities of Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs) and Border Guards (BGs) in fighting waste crimes, while DATACROS II and KLEPTOTRACE focus on devising innovative solutions to bolster financial investigations targeting companies that employ intricate ownership structures to conceal financial misconduct. An open exchange between the three projects could shed light on how the data-driven tools for financial investigations developed by DATACROS II and KLEPTOTRACE could interact with EMERITUS technological solutions. Let’s find out more about the projects and their collaboration. 

EMERITUS: Environmental crimes’ intelligence and investigation protocol based on multiple data sources

EMERITUS is an innovation project that aims to enact a new generation of technological tools orchestrated via a single-entry point platform at the service of LEAs and BGs for the effective investigation and evidence collection of environmental crimes, integrating the use in operations of innovative surveillance and analysis technologies. To enable the use of such technologies, a complementary training programme is being undertaken during the project to foster the intelligence and investigation capabilities of the authorities responsible for enforcing environmental regulations and prosecuting related crimes, combining theoretical aspects and practical simulations. This is intended to support LEAs and BGs in the effective investigation of environmental crime at national and cross-border levels, facilitating collaborative operations and networking in this domain. EMERITUS is executed by a consortium of 20 partners, including top-level research institutions, industrial companies, security-specialised SMEs, NGOs, LEAs and BGs, from 9 countries and 3 affiliated entities. 

DATACROS II: Empowering a Tool to Assess Corruption Risk factors in firms’ Ownership Structure 

DATACROS II, the second phase of the DATACROS research project, was funded by the European Union’s Internal Security Fund, aiming to develop innovative solutions to unravel complex ownership structures used by criminals to conceal financial crime, and to address the associated knowledge gap. The project developed (Phase I) and enhanced (Phase II) the DATACROS tool to support investigations by facilitating asset tracing, identifying high-risk entities and reconstructing potential collusive and fraudulent links. More than 30 risk indicators have been integrated across 8 risk dimensions, which can be combined according to case and context and applied to hundreds of millions of entities worldwide. Thanks to a consortium of 18 partners from 7 EU countries, the tool has been developed hand in hand and tested in operational scenarios by law enforcement agencies, anti-corruption agencies, competition authorities and investigative journalists. The project was coordinated by Transcrime – Research Centre of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. The final webinar presented use cases where the DATACROS tool has been successfully put to use by end-users in complex international investigations. 

KLEPTOTRACE: Strengthening EU asset recovery and sanction tracing against transnational high-level corruption 

The KLEPTOTRACE project has been co-funded by the European Union (Internal Security Fund) to combat high-level corruption and sanction circumvention, and to facilitate the recovery of related illicit proceeds within the European Union. It addresses gaps in the understanding of transnational schemes used by kleptocrats and the limitations of legal frameworks, investigative capabilities, and the involvement of civil society and the private sector in detecting and reporting corruption. These objectives are being pursued through the monitoring of criminal schemes at the transnational level and the development of a data-driven toolbox, building on existing tools for financial crime investigations – including DATACROS – and linking new asset registers and data beyond companies (e.g. real estate, vessels, asset declarations, sanctions lists). 

The KLEPTOTRACE consortium covers 8 EU countries – indirectly 30 European countries – and involves research centres, LEAs, anti-corruption agencies, FIUs, civil society, journalists and business registers. It is coordinated by Transcrime – Research Centre of the Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore. 

The path for collaboration 

Recognising that crimes, though appearing distinct, often stem from common financial and economic motivations is crucial for understanding their interconnectedness. This awareness fosters dialogue between projects aimed at tackling diverse security issues within our society. Details of the extent of future collaboration among the three projects are currently being discussed by their teams and should include joint dissemination activities such as webinars or workshops, as well as the possible integration of their technical solutions. The possibility of building interactions between the EMERITUS platform and the DATACROS and KLEPTOTRACE tools will be explored and could prove to be of great added value to all of the projects.  

Stay informed about the developing synergy and the projects 

Stay tuned for the future developments on this collaboration as well as about the projects involved by: