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Professional enablers of economic crime during crises

Professional bodies and law enforcement agencies are cautioning that criminals will take advantage of the Covid-19 crisis to exploit professional enablers. Such enablers are gatekeepers of the financial system, whose conduct can open closed doors for criminals to launder illicit funds. They may operate as individuals, organisations, or networks in financial or non-financial sectors. Evidence shows that professional enablers facilitated crime during the global financial crisis of 2007/2008 and the Ebola outbreak. It is too early to assess their role during the current Covid-19 pandemic, but governments and donor agencies should be alert to the dangers.

24 May 2020
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Main points

  • Proceeds from drug trafficking rescued banks from collapsing during the 2008 financial crisis. The former head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimated that approximately US$352 billion in drug proceeds was laundered through banks.
  • Evidence shows that funds disbursed in previous humanitarian crises such as the Ebola crisis were lost through corruption and laundered with the help of professional enablers.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic presents features which exacerbate corrupt individuals and criminal groups to move and conceal proceeds of crime through professional enablers.
  • Europol and the FATF have cautioned the potential abuse of professional enablers by criminals to launder their proceeds of crime during and after COVID-19.

Cite this publication

Duri, J.; (2020) Professional enablers of economic crime during crises. Bergen: U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre, Chr. Michelsen Institute (U4 Helpdesk Answer 2020:7)

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About the author

Jorum is a Research Coordinator at Transparency International, with his primary responsibilities at the Anti-Corruption Helpdesk.


All views in this text are the author(s)’, and may differ from the U4 partner agencies’ policies.

This work is licenced under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International licence (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


humanitarian crisis, Covid-19