Addressing the adverse systemic economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the European Banking Authority has supported the measures taken by national governments and EU bodies. Even as most economies face a downturn, it is essential to preserve the effectiveness and stability of the EU’s financial system by safeguarding the integrity of financial markets through anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) frameworks.

The EBA has called on competent authorities that are responsible for the AML/CFT supervision of credit and financial institutions under Directive (EU) 2015/8492 to support credit and financial institutions’ ongoing AML/CFT efforts by

  • Clarifying that financial crime remains unacceptable, even in times of crisis such as the COVID-19 outbreak;
  • Sharing information on emerging ML/TF risks and setting clear expectations of the steps credit and financial institutions should take to mitigate those risks; and
  • Considering how to adapt the use of their supervisory tools temporarily to ensure ongoing compliance by credit and financial institutions with their AML/CFT obligations.

Even in times of crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, illicit finance continues to flow. For example, there is already some evidence of increased levels of cybercrime, COVID-19-related frauds and scams targeting vulnerable people and companies, of fake fundraising campaigns and of criminal networks selling rationed goods at a higher price. EBA realises that criminals are highly adaptive and new techniques of laundering money are likely to emerge.

The EBA has urged competent authorities that are responsible for the AML/CFT supervision of credit and other financial institutions to

  • work closely with credit and other financial institutions, Financial Intelligence Units (FIU) and law enforcement authorities to identify, and raise awareness of, new ML/TF typologies;
  • ensure that credit and other financial institutions remain alert to ML/TF techniques that might change due to the economic downturn and where necessary, update their ML/TF risk assessments accordingly;
  • remind credit and other financial institutions to continue monitoring transactions and identify any unusual or suspicious patterns in customers’ behaviour and financial flows.; and
  • remind credit and other financial institutions to continue to report suspicions of ML/TF to the relevant FIU Mitigating the adverse effects of the current pandemic may require temporary adjustments in supervisory activity and potentially, an adjustment of supervisory priorities and plans to ensure that AML/CFT supervision remains effective.

Date: 3 April 2020

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Anti-Money Laundering and Countering the Financing of Terrorism
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