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Covid loan claims fuel rise in suspected fraud cases

There have been some 1,700 cases of suspected Covid-19 loan frauds reported since the start of the pandemic. © Keystone / Ennio Leanza

The number of reported suspicious financial transactions continued to rise in Switzerland in 2021, but at a lower rate than in the first year of the pandemic.

Switzerland’s Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) saw a 12% increase of suspicious activity reports last year to reach 5,962.

For the second year in a row, a significant number of these detailed suspected fraudulent claims for loans offered to businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.

MROS said on Monday that it had received 1,700 such reports, involving CHF230 million ($236 million) of claims, since the start of the pandemic. Several thousand more suspected coronavirus fraud cases have been reported to other authorities in Switzerland.

In 2020, suspected Covid-19 loan claims had been largely responsible for a 25% increaseExternal link in reported suspicious activities.

In common with previous years, the majority of suspicious transactions were reported by banks in 2021, but 18% were first spotted in the media.

There were only 82 reports of suspect terror financing and 304 in connection with alleged organised crime.

MROS said that last year it relayed 1,351 reports to prosecutors. There were 205 penalties handed down by courts for offences reported in previous years.

In 2021, MROS said it received 784 requests for administrative assistance from 87 different countries.


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