Chasing a moving target

In a time where sustaining business activity is critical, financial institutions are urged by regulators around the world to remain vigilant towards emerging COVID-19-related financial crime risks

By Joette Sciortino 

Sciortino is an EY Associate Partner and a specialist in financial crime consulting

The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered unprecedented change on various aspects of life and society, forcing major lifestyle adjustments and turbulence in financial markets with institutions increasing their focus on high risk issues stemming from the crisis in additional to general business continuity issues.

One impact has been that on financial crime with simultaneous supply and demand shocks to the global economy and widespread close of borders across the world impacting the ability of organised groups to continue normal operations.

Some of the main impacts relate to growing volume of alerts as changing customer behaviours are leading to unusual transactional activity and challenges for know your customer operations to ensure customer files are kept up to date to business changes.

In a time where sustaining business activity is critical, financial institutions are urged by regulators around the world to remain vigilant towards emerging COVID-19-related financial crime risks, continually strengthen controls in order to detect and report suspicious activity as well as remain up to date with evolving regulatory requirements.

One of the key recent updates on countering money laundering legislation is the Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive which came into effect at the end of 2020 for EU member states. This Directive aims to close the gaps and loopholes in the definitions and scope of money laundering offences and associated penalties, achieve broader consistency in anti-money laundering legislation across EU member states and seeks to facilitate greater law enforcement, exchange of information and judicial collaboration between member states’ national authorities.

Like many other regulatory aspects, over the past months, the enforcement process has also been subject to a number of noteworthy changes. These range from revisions to the publication regime of fines to the potential for administrative sanctions against individuals in certain roles within the organisation.

Intensified enforcement actions also continue to make headlines as both the volume and value of administrative measures levied to Subject Persons in response to breaches of anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing laws and regulations continued to rise.

The impact and management of financial crime risks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, recent financial crime enforcement actions and other current regulatory updates, including those stemming from the Sixth Anti-Money Laundering Directive, will be discussed in an upcoming series of webinars being organised by EY – Chasing a moving target – a quarterly round-up of financial crime regulatory updates with the first webinar scheduled on 9th February 2021.

This EY event is CPE accredited. For more information on the event and to register visit ey.com/en_mt/events/chasing-a-moving-target-1

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