Pandemic boosts reports of suspected money laundering

Swiss money laundering authorities received more than 1,000 reports last year of suspected fraud related to Covid credits. Keystone / Silas Stein

Reports to Switzerland’s Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) rose 25% last year, with many of them related to Covid credits, the office said in its annual report published on Tuesday. 

This content was published on May 18, 2021 - 16:59

MROS received 5,334 such reports in 2020, concerning more than 9,000 business relationships. Nearly 90% of the reports came from banks. They included around 1,000 reports relating to Covid credits. 

The office said its introduction of a new electronic communication system had helped it cope with the influx. However, it warned that the pandemic has provided criminals with new opportunities for illegal enrichment, thus increasing the risk of money laundering. 

Last year, MROS registered 1,046 reports of suspected fraud in connection with Covid credits, granted by financial institutions under the guarantee of the Swiss federal government. They concerned 1,054 loans, granted by 43 different banks, for a total amount of approximately CHF149.6 million. 

MROS said it forwarded 764 reports to prosecuting authorities in connection with 914 reports. Hundreds of criminal investigations were subsequently opened. 

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