Marshall Center Hosts Alumni Event: The Impact of COVID-19 on Money Laundering

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Marshall Center Hosts Alumni Event: The Impact of COVID-19 on Money Laundering

By Donna Janca, Alumni Relations Specialist
College of International and Security Studies
George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany (March 25, 2021) — The Alumni Programs Department at the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies held a virtual outreach seminar on the topic, “The Impact of COVID-19 on Money Laundering:  Insights from Suspicious Activity Reports” March 24. The event featured a presentation by Alison Jimenez, president of Dynamic Securities Analytics, and was moderated by Professor Joseph Vann, Marshall Center director of the Countering Transnational Organized Crime Program. 

Thirty-six U.S. alumni attended the event, during which Jimenez, also an alumna of the Marshall Center’s CTOC Program, discussed the impact COVID-19 has had on money laundering.  She offered specific insights based on new trends in the filing of Suspicious Activity Reports which banks and financial institutions are required to file when they suspect money laundering or financial crime.  Jimenez explained the new and innovative ways that bad actors are adapting their methodologies due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Marshall Center Alumni Relations Specialist Donna Janca offered welcome remarks and spoke of the importance of sustaining and building on the networks created at the Marshall Center.  “Over 14,000 participants from 156 countries have come through Garmisch and graduated from one of the many resident courses the Marshall Center offered in the last 27 years.  These relationships prove to be of great importance throughout the international community and our goal is to keep the networks alive,” said Janca.  She continued, stating that taking advantage of opportunities to offer virtual events is proving to be a very effective way to stay in contact with the alumni, while providing a venue for discussing relevant security topics.

Vann also offered introductory remarks, stating that the Marshall Center alumni network has proven to be a great enabler for our security professionals throughout the international community. “The Marshall Center focuses on creating the best possible environment where participants from a wide variety of countries and professional backgrounds can come together and learn from each other. This is the foundational element for establishing enduring relationships and the magic of the Marshall Center,” said Vann, stressing that such cooperation is a cornerstone for building meaningful security networks. 

The seminar continued with interactive comments and discussion with U.S. Marshall Center alumni, discussing the effect COVID-19 is having on money laundering and fraudulent transactions worldwide.  Jimenez noted that illicit financial activities were immediately impacted by restricted movement and border closings as a result of COVID-19, however, bad actors quickly began adapting by finding new crimes, targets, and laundering methods.  

She continued by stating that SAR aim to provide actionable intelligence to law enforcement and promote national security thorough financial intelligence, but it is impossible to capture all illegal activity, thus making it a continuing challenge. “There are three key points to remember and that is that financial fraudsters, including organized crime groups, are opportunistic and will follow the money even if that means stealing from government pandemic relief programs, cash is still key to many criminals, and the shift to remote banking presents new challenges in preventing crime,” she stated.  “Furthermore, it’s important to adjust to these new strategies and the knowledge that with increased remote banking, incidents of fraudulent activity will continue even after the pandemic has subsided.”

Jimenez said, “I was very moved to reconnect with some of the alumni I know and pleased with the amount of interest the topic generated.  It was great to engage with them on some of the pressing challenges involving illegal financial activities.” 

Alumni can get the latest news and information from the Marshall Center by emailing their current contact info to: mcalumni [at] (mcalumni[at]marshallcenter[dot]org). Alumni can also follow the latest developments and gain access to networking and research resources through our GlobalNET online alumni portal.