EU Officials, Bankers Step Up Efforts to Tackle Abuse of Virtual IBANs

By Koos Couvée and Gabriel Vedrenne

In March 2020, when the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus prompted governments across the globe to impose strict lockdowns, Germany launched a €50 billion federal support scheme for businesses set to incur huge losses during the pandemic. The program, which ran until June 2022, required claimants to hold a German international bank account number, or IBAN, to ensure that firms receiving government aid would be subject to adequate know-your-customer checks by local financial institutions and that investigators could rapidly obtain information about recipients suspected of fraud. But officials may not have foreseen that disruptive financial technology and new EU...