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COVID-19 and measures to combat financial crime

Updated: Apr 14, 2020

Tackling financial crime during the Covid-19 pandemic

Criminals are taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to carry out financial crimes by adapting their tactics or engaging in new activities to target remote workers, businesses and individuals alike. Factors that prompt changes in crime and terrorism include high demand for certain goods, decreased mobility, staying home, teleworking, rely on digital solutions, anxiety, decreased supply of certain illicit goods in the EU.

Relevant European Union entities are in close contact with one another to track these malicious activities, raise awareness in their respective communities and help protect confined citizens. The European Commission, ENISA, CERT-EU and Europol, among others, continue to monitor the situation, coordinate and raise awareness in their respective communities and help protect citizens.

Europol’s Crisis Management Team has been actively monitoring the evolving situation of the COVID-19 pandemic since the beginning and is prepared for all possible scenarios to ensure not only the well-being of its staff but also business continuity.

As the global standard‑setter for combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism and proliferation, the FATF have encouraged governments to work with financial institutions and other businesses to use the flexibility built into the FATF’s risk-based approach to address the challenges posed by COVID-19 whilst remaining alert to new and emerging illicit finance risks. 

The European Banking Authority (EBA) intends to provide clarity to banks and consumers on the application of prudential and supervisory measures to support lending into the real economy, whilst maintaining high standards of conduct, consumer protection and measures to tackle financial crime.

The EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) has shared its cybersecurity recommendations on a variety of topics including working remotely and shopping online. Aside from awareness raising, the Agency will also provide support through updates on key security issues associated with the Covid-19 and valuable security advice to affected sectors.

The EU’s economic policy response to the COVID-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge with very severe socio-economic consequences. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has established a Coronavirus response team at political level to coordinate the response to the pandemic. On 6 April, the Commission unlocked €1 billion from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) as a guarantee to the European Investment Fund (EIF). This will allow the EIF to issue special guarantees to provide incentives to banks and other lenders to provide liquidity to at least 100,000 European SMEs and small mid-cap companies hit by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, for an estimated available financing of €8 billion.

Moreover, the Commission approved requests from Member States and the UK to temporarily waive customs duties and VAT on the import of medical devices, and protective equipment, from third countries in order to help in the fight against coronavirus.


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