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POLICE

Money laundering on the rise in Sweden

Police statistics reveal a 30 percent increase in the number of reported cases of money laundering in Sweden for 2010, prompting calls for the creation of a new agency to combat the problem.

Money laundering on the rise in Sweden

According to figures from the financial crimes police (Finanspolisen), the number of reported money laundering cases in Sweden increased by 3,000 to a total of 12,000 reported cases in 2010, the Svenska Dagbladet (SvD) newspaper reports.

Sweden has been criticised for not doing enough to combat this type of crimes and now the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brottsförebyggande rådet – Brå) is suggesting the creation a national financial intelligence centre to be shared by Swedish Police, Customs, Tax agency and Economic Crime Authority (Ekobrottsmyndigheten).

“This way we can free up resources, make use of each of the authorities’ expertise and increase the quality of operative intelligence,” Daniel Vesterhav, researcher at the crime prevention council, told SvD.

The report also shows that out of the 14,500 companies in Sweden obliged by law to report possible money laundering crimes within their own organisation, 90 percent of reports come from banks, foreign exchange companies and other money handling businesses.

But the number of unreported cases is believed to be large. Some businesses that the crime prevention council considers to be specifically targeted did not report a single case of suspected money laundering in 2010.

Last year, six out of a thousand car dealers, eight out of 6,100 real estate agents, and five out of 4,117 private accountants filed a money laundering report to the council.

Not one single tax adviser out of Sweden’s 159 obliged to report potential money laundering crimes to police filed a report last year.

According to the crime prevention council, this is likely because companies are reluctant to file a report based on suspicions or simply don’t understand what it is that the financial unit of the police is interested in.

“Many companies are worried that they may be threatened if it is known that they have reported a potential case,” Vesterhav told SvD.

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PROTESTS

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.

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