U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

This Anti-Corruption Helpdesk brief was produced in response to a query from a U4 Partner Agency. The U4 Helpdesk is operated by Transparency International in collaboration with the U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre based at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.

Query


Please give an overview of the role of professional enablers of economic crime during previous economic and humanitarian crises, provide emerging evidence on enablers during the current COVID-19 crisis, and consider how to acquire evidence on this subject throughout the current crisis.

Summary

Professional enablers are gatekeepers of the financial system whose wilful, complicit or negligent conduct can open closed doors for criminals to launder their illicit funds. These enablers may operate as individuals, organisations or networks in financial or non-financial sectors.

Evidence shows that professional enablers have facilitated economic crime during previous crises. For instance, drug money was laundered through banks during the global financial crisis of 2007/2008, and funds disbursed in previous humanitarian crises, such as the Ebola outbreak, were lost and laundered with assistance from professional enablers.

Although it is too early to assess the role of enablers during the current COVID-19 pandemic, there are worrying features that may influence their involvement as the crisis unfolds. Various professional bodies and law enforcement agencies have already cautioned that criminals will take advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to exploit professional enablers in order to launder their illicit proceeds.

Contents

1. Professional enablers of economic crime

a. Who are professional enablers?

b. Role of professional enablers in commission of economic crime

2. Professional enablers during previous economic and humanitarian crises

a. Economic crises

b. Humanitarian crises

3. Features of COVID-19 that may influence the role of professional enablers

a. Increase in financial aid

b. Emergency procurement

c. AML/CFT challenges during COVID-19

d. Economic recession

e. Organised criminal activities

4. Resources to monitor professional enablers during the COVID-19 pandemic

5. References

Authors

Jorum Duri, tihelpdesk@transparency.org

Reviewers

Maira Martini, Transparency International

Sophie Lemaître, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre

Date

29/05/2020

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