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MONEYVAL Chair presents at high-level conference on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic under the Greek Chairmanship of the Council of Europe

Strasbourg 17 June 2020
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MONEYVAL Chair presents at high-level conference on the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic under the Greek Chairmanship of the Council of Europe

The President of MONEYVAL, Ms Elżbieta Frankow-Jaśkiewicz, participated in the conference organised by the Greek Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe "Protection of human life and public health in the context of a pandemic – Effectively responding to a sanitary crisis in full respect for human rights and the principles of democracy and the rule of law". The exchange of views took place via videoconference on 17 June 2020 and it was chaired by the Alternate Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic, Mr Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, in his capacity as Chair of the Committee of Ministers. The event was broadcasted live through the official website of the Greek Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe (see link). This event will initiate a process with the aim to elaborate a joint political declaration, to be adopted at the Ministerial Session in Athens, on November 4, defining a set of principles (“Athens Principles”).

The conference was attended by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Ms Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Director General of Human Rights and Rule of Law, Mr Christos Giakoumopoulos, the Director General of Democracy, Ms Snežana Samardžic-Marković, the Director of Legal Advice and Public International Law, Mr Jörg Polakiewicz, and other distinguished chairpersons of the Council of Europe committees on Democracy and the rule of law.

Ms Frankow-Jaśkiewicz emphasised the need to maintain a robust monitoring mechanism in order to ensure that states do not stray away from their commitments to tackle economic crime with a view to gain additional financial revenue from the so-called capital amnesties and voluntary tax compliance programmes, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 first wave.

In addition, Ms Frankow-Jaśkiewicz drew the panel’s attention to a number of alarming trends and cases of the Covid-19 era, whereby criminals have been abusing and targeting recipients of state assistance funds; abusing contracts for medical supplies procurement, and laundering procurement embezzlement funds; employing money laundering schemes under fictitious international contracts for the shipment of expensive medical equipment (e.g. ventilators); and abusing the use of new technologies, including virtual currencies and virtual asset service providers. The emerging threat financing of bioterrorism was also highlighted.

a view to the COVID-19 era risks and trends, the President of MONEYVAL informed of the launching of a typologies research programme by the Committee, aiming to guide law enforcement and preventative measures taken by member states and territories. The first part of this on-going study focuses on the COVID-related risk factors and typologies.

Moreover, MONEYVAL has also begun applying a new set of requirements on countries to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing through the abuse of virtual assets and virtual asset service providers. The first desk-based review was launched in April 2020 focusing on the Czech Republic, the Isle of Man, Lithuania and Ukraine. Enhanced monitoring of this requirement will be applied horizontally to all MONEYVAL jurisdictions.

Last but not least, Ms Frankow-Jaśkiewicz spoke of the obstacles and risks to governments caused by the pandemic and the lockdown, and underlined the importance of maintaining a robust AML/CFT frameworks to ensure that crime does not use the opportunity to penetrate the legal economy.