MONEYVAL highlights how AML/CFT authorities have adapted to remote and electronic methods during the COVID-19 crisis

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Financial criminals are misusing the fearful environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic to make profits from crimes such as online fraud and the sale of counterfeit medicines. The Council of Europe’s MONEYVAL Committee is identifying the challenges and developing the right policy responses against these crimes.

These pandemic-related challenges and policy responses are detailed in MONEYVAL’s latest report. The report unearths that instances of COVID-19-related financial crimes have come up owing to the urgent requirement of special medical products and the prompt economic relief measures instituted by many governments.

Due to restrictions to physical movement, the pandemic has directed authorities to opt for unconventional methods to address financial crimes. These include electronic meetings and remote operations. The private sector also saw a significant increase in remote, non-contact business operations. However, these new methods have also raised concerns about the efficacy of remote customer identification and due diligence methods.

Overall, MONEYVAL’s report points out that the total level of criminality has been unchanged or slightly lower. However, cyber fraud and cybercrime have increased in some countries. Reassuringly, the reporting of suspicious transactions has remained unchanged. Supervisors reviewed such documents remotely online.

Furthermore, both domestic and international information exchange and cooperation have not been disrupted by the measures taken in response to COVID-19. In fact, authorities have effectively exchanged information on cross-border cases pertaining to fraudulent sales of fake medical products, non-delivery scams, etc.