Monday 23 May 2022

EncroChat messages reveal at least ten cases of ‘bent coppers’ leaking info


The investigation into millions of messages between criminals via encrypted service provider EncroChat has also yielded proof of police corruption and a special team has been tasked with the prosecution of the officers involved, police have said.

Officials have not yet said how many police officers are involved and at what level, but at least two have been arrested following the EncroChat operation.

Sources cited by the Telegraaf  say 10 serious cases involving the leak of information to criminals are currently being investigated. The search also yielded information about a network of lawyers, real estate brokers and notaries whose services helped criminals launder money, they said.

Police did confirm information had been leaked to criminals but would not say more for operational reasons.  The sheer volume of messages – over 20 million – that have to be followed up must be dealt with meticulously to avoid false claims of corruption, police said.

However, the first signs are serious enough to warrant a special team, police chief Henk van Essen said. ‘We have started a number of prosecutions and more will follow. The information on drug deals and money laundering as well as the corruption in the force have been given the highest priority.’

Van Essen said that there have always been ‘bent coppers’ but the fact that their number is increasing is worrying.

‘A policeman can become corrupt through blackmail but can also simply be bought,’ Van Essen said. ‘Information is a goldmine for criminals. It can be anything from information on current investigations and people to addresses and cars. They are always on the lookout for people with access to this type of information, not only in the force but in companies as well.’

Software to flag up suspicious search behaviour by officers will be introduced next year, Van Essen said. ‘But we don’t want to check each and every email or app. We want a system built on trust but we must be realistic. There is corruption and we want to stamp it out. And an operation like EncroChat shows that no one is beyond the reach of the law.’

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