Moneyval: Money Laundering Risks of COVID-19 Pandemic

Moneyval published new findings Thursday on the emerging financial-crime risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including fraud linked to medical and protective equipment and procurement.

The report concluded that, while the level of criminality has remained unchanged since the beginning of the pandemic, countries are reporting an increase in transnational crimes, including fraud through electronic means and cybercrime. Related restrictions on cross-border travel have also likely created a “late demand” for transportation of physical cash that could be realised following an easing COVID-19 measures, according to the report.

“Almost all jurisdictions have noted a growing number of fraudulent cases due to a significant shortage of medical and other protective equipment,” the report found. “Most of the respondents noted that due to the growing demand for medical supplies, the instances where the merchandise was not supplied following the on-line order and/or where counterfeited products were shipped, increased.”

In addition to creating operational challenges for financial institutions and their supervisors, the pandemic has also caused changes in the transactional activity of ordinary citizens, according to the report.

“During the self-isolation regime, bank clients began to perform much more remote operations,” Moneyval said. “The use of non-cash payments and payment cards has increased as well as the use of electronic and mobile banking in private client segment. Many jurisdictions noted that since March the number of payments via electronic banking has increased in comparison with the previous period.”

The committee asked public authorities to take a risk-based approach that ensures entities place “sufficient emphasis on emerging risks and trends, such as new clients accepted during the lockdown, or remote operations.”

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