On the 9th and 10th March 2023, OPFA-CULT organized its second workshop entitled “Financial investigations in the context of Illicit trafficking of cultural goods” in Bucharest, Romania. The workshop saw the participation and contribution of 30 participants from 11 Member States. Most of the participants came from specialized units for cultural property crime from 9 Member States (IT, RO, NL, FR, BE, ES, DE, BG and SE). In addition, the workshop allowed for the interaction between LEA agents and an archaeologist, a PhD Candidate and a Liaison Officer from a Partner country (Albania).
During the first day, the hosts from the General Inspectorate of the Romanian Gendarmerie (project partner) welcomed the participants. Following the presentations, four sector experts made their content presentation. First, Adriana Ravas (Romanian Police) with a presentation on «Criminal investigations in the field of trafficking of cultural goods in Romania». This first presentation was followed by «Cultural heritage protection, new crimes and compliance: money laundering and self laundering. The amendments to the Italian criminal code» presented by Major Claudio Sanzó (Arma dei Carabinieri). The presentation by Mārcis Kalniņš (Archaeologist – Department of Circulation of Cultural Goods National Heritage Board of Latvia) with the title «Illegal trade of antiquities and money laundering through antiquities in Latvia and fight against it» and Maja Dehouck’s (PhD Candidate and Researcher on project CRAAFT) titled «Financial Intelligence at the art-finance-security nexus: security practices in the art market» followed up and closed the session
In addition to these four main presentations, the participants were again introduced to the objectives of OPFA-CULT project and the functioning of its Operational Facility, from where LEAs can request funding to conduct specific activities and investigations related to the fight against the illicit trafficking of cultural heritage. The workshop allowed the participants to grow and strengthen their network, share knowledge and discuss cases. Although not a direct objective of the project, the consortium hopes that the interactions provided in the workshops as well the funding granted through the Facility can play a positive impact in the apprehension of High-Value Targets (HVT) and in the fight against the trafficking on cultural goods.
On the second day, the Romanian Gendarmerie organised a group visit to the National History Museum of Romania where all workshop participants took part on a guided visit through three museum exhibitions and collections. More than a moment of leisure, the museum visit allowed the participants not only to learn the history of Romania, but also to get to know and identify important cultural objects that might be sourced in the country and trafficked elsewhere. The guided visit enlighten the participants on some restitution cases as well on several cultural property that awaits to be back in Romania.
We would like to thank all workshop participants and respective LEAs for their significant contribution and attendance. OPFA-CULT 2nd Workshop highlights once more the importance of the fight against cultural property crime in the EU Member States and the continuous need of increased capacities and networking to fight such crime. Lastly, we would like to thank the European Commission for funding OPFA-CULT through the Internal Security Fund-Police – now an EMPACT Operational Action OPC 2.7 – and making this workshop possible.