FATF publishes report on money laundering and terrorist financing risks
In May 2020, the Intergovernmental Anti-Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Task Force (FATF) issued a paper on money laundering and terrorist financing risks related to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The report begins by highlighting the emergence of new anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML-CFT) risks, which stem indirectly from the pandemic. The report mentions risks such as fraudulent investment opportunities, the use of phishing schemes by criminals to exploit their victims' fears about the spread of the virus, and fundraising for fake charities.
The FATF also and above all notes that governments and private actors are less able to meet their obligations in the field of AML-CFT since the health crisis.
As a result, several sectors of the AML-CFT are indirectly influenced by the pandemic, starting with control. Indeed, AML-CFT inspections supposed to be carried out by FATF members were postponed or carried out remotely. In addition, some transactions were subject to additional delays due to the crisis, such as suspicious transaction reports. The FATF also noted that some States had chosen to suspend decisions on financial sanctions for breaches of AML/CFT obligations.
In addition, the health crisis and the measures associated with it have not spared judicial staff, which has meant the postponement or suspension of many trials. As a result, States have been forced to prioritise their procedures. Most of them have therefore chosen to focus on other offences rather than those relating to AML-CFT.
The FATF then proposes several solutions to enable States to overcome these obstacles and persevere in the AML-CFT. First, the FATF recommends that States coordinate their national measures, particularly with a view to optimizing relations between the public and private sectors. These relationships can be improved, for example, through response teams or the establishment of a point of contact.
With regard to customer due diligence, the FATF recommends that States adopt a risk-based approach. Such an approach may take the form, inter alia, of measures introduced by supervisory authorities, such as the adoption of simplified due diligence measures where risks are limited.
The FATF also highlights the importance of developing the use of electronic payment tools to enable compliance with measures associated with the health crisis, in particular those related to social distancing.
Finally, the FATF emphasizes the need for States to understand and control the new risks related to the pandemic, for example by setting up working groups whose mission would lie in the fight against criminal acts that have emerged with the health crisis.
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