Basel Institute on Governance

Papering over cracks or building stronger systems together? Financial crime in the context of covid-19

This article is the Basel Institute’s contribution to the Global Forum on Law, Justice and Development Review of Legal Experiences and Global Practices Relating to COVID-19, published in December 2021. The Global Forum is an initiative of The World Bank. The contribution was submitted in July 2020; the version below contains minor updates to hyperlinks.

It explores how covid-19 has exposed cracks and flaws in the systems designed to protect communities from corruption and has accelerated existing trends in financial crime. The next systemic disruption may come from another pandemic, climate change or perhaps biological or cyber attacks. Whatever the future holds, it is clear that financial crime systems must become more resilient if they are to protect us.

The article notes that the world has an opportunity to reflect meaningfully on the problems and build stronger, more efficient and effective systems against financial crime. It covers three areas:

  • Technology, and how technology upgrades in law enforcement and criminal justice proceedings are necessary but not sufficient
  • Streamlining and speeding up procedures in cases of financial crime, such as mutual legal assistance
  • Citizen engagement in the fight against financial crime, including mobilising citizens by using recovered proceeds of corruption and crime to fund essential healthcare services.

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