Financial criminals employ the professional services of accountants, notaries, real estate agents and bankers to facilitate their crimes. Such intermediary enablers often help conceal the true sources of illegal funds. An example is the business transactions of a politically connected Azerbaijani family that was under investigation recently. In this case, authorities in the UK and Spain reported suspicious transactions and inept due diligence by professionals. These enablers helped the family make illegal investments in real estate and businesses without any issues.
It is important that authorities in the UK, Spain and Azerbaijan investigate the case thoroughly in the light of new evidence. If professional intermediaries did not abide by the AML regulations, strict action is needed. Authorities must also strengthen their AML policies to keep professional enablers at bay.
Such policy reforms are particularly important in the post-COVID-19 era when corruption is likely to be rampant. According to Transparency International, previous such crises have witnessed professional enablers facilitating financial crimes. Therefore, to protect the global financial system, it is important that all professional service providers perform their jobs efficiently and honestly.