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A new tool for identifying vessels involved in criminal activities developed by Transcrime, partner of the Promenade consortium

Approximately 12,000 vessels navigate European waters daily. A fraction of them is used for illicit trafficking of humans, drugs, and excise goods. Others are exploited to launder or conceal illicit profits from grand corruption and tax evasion. Others are controlled by sanctioned oligarchs and kleptocrats and should be frozen. Overall, public authorities struggle to keep the pace: Europol estimates that EU authorities annually confiscateonly 1.1% of criminal profits in the EU.

However, in the last few years there has been a significant growth in both data and AI methodologies that can support practitioners’ decision making and improve maritime surveillance effectiveness. In this domain, the researchers of Transcrime (research centre on transnational crime of Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore) have developed a specific expertise in data analytics for identifying anomalies in vessels’ ownership structure to spot those involved in criminal activities. They not only look at who controls a vessel, but also how control takes place: whether complex shareholding structures are used, high-risk jurisdictions are crossed, or opaque legal arrangements are employed to conceal the identity of the owner.

Within the EU-funded PROMENADE Project, Transcrime has developed Risk Investigator, an innovative tool to: (a) trace ownership structures and Beneficial Owners of vessels, even when deploying across borders; (b) identify adverse events (sanctions, enforcement, adverse media) linked to vessels, their owners and related entities; (c) detect risk factors and anomalies in vessels’ ownership structure. In January 2023, the tool will be tested in operational trials with 3 EU Border Guards.