The COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis was a reminder, if any were needed, that criminal creativity thrives in times of chaos, exploiting people’s fears. Unsafe face masks, counterfeit drugs, and suspect medical equipment flooded the market, touted as miracle cures against the coronavirus by unscrupulous actors wanting to turn a quick profit. Companies with no record in health won big government contracts and, as people’s situation deteriorated, organized crime stepped in to lend a “helping hand” to those suffering financial distress. Where most people saw a global public health and economic crisis, criminals saw an opportunity. What this criminal behavior, indeed almost all financial economic crime, has in common is that the funds involved move through the formal financial system. The service providers that execute those transactions are in a good position to gather firsthand intelligence on what is happening. For this reason, banks and other financial institutions have anti-money-laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) obligations to find out who is paying whom and why and, if necessary, to alert the authorities. Financial institutions are the first line of defense against this criminal behavior; they are the gatekeepers to the international financial system.
Preventing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing : A Practical Guide for Bank Supervisors;