Professional enablers of economic crime during crises
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.