Top 6 Trends in Anti-Money Laundering for 2020

Top 6 trends in Anti-Money Laundering for 2020

To enhance the scope of AML compliance, new regulations were brought into force throughout last year. In this demanding regulatory atmosphere, financial institutes are expected to adapt to the needs of evolving and competitive financial ecosystems.The key concept of 2020 for AML compliance is the investment in the collaboration of credible data, human intelligence, and advanced technology. So far many achievements in this regard proved to be just a tip of the iceberg but 2020 is expected to be a fruitful year to witness real enhancements in this field. AML practices are required by businesses across the globe to perform customer due diligence.  It is not an uphill task as it may seem. It is an investment of a few thousand dollars to demit the loss of millions. 

AML Regulations for Businesses

Anti-money laundering (AML) screening has been employed by financial institutions to detect suspicious transactions and analyzing customer data. AML is to filter customer data, classify it according to the level of suspicion and inspect it for errors like any sudden and substantial increase in funds or a large withdrawal or many others. AML screening is used to detect money laundering, terrorist financing, and tax evasion, etc. The businesses are required to conduct proper AML due diligence to comply with AML regulations. Global organizations need to keep check and balance and devise a proper AML program. Relevant customer data is screened through official and non-official high-risk watch lists to identify potential risk customers. Moreover, businesses must have the legal documents of their distributors and resellers to verify that they are complying with global AML regulations.

6 Trends in AML to Watch out for

According to the European Banking Authority(EBA), AML is the top priority for the EU in 2020 as money laundering and terrorist financing are the main threatening risks. To address the issue EBA will form a new committee to ensure a collaborative approach towards the problem by working on a superimposable implementation of different policies. The aim is to investigate the breaches of AML regulations and take necessary actions. Following are some trends of AML to watch in 2020:

Get ready for more information on Ultimate Beneficial Owners

The many creative ways criminals use shell companies and offshore structures to hide their laundered money have become public knowledge after Panama Paper leaks. To counter this, this year we expect ultimate beneficial ownership legislation to become a vital feature of the financial crime landscape. Global focus on UBO transparency will ramp up this year as a consequence of many legislative actions from last year. Steps are taken in the UK to introduce the ultimate beneficial ownership register for businesses by the end of this year and we are expecting to see further progress in all these jurisdictions. 

Regulatory Regimes get an Overhaul

In 2019 money laundering scandals were never far from the headlines. For instance, the Danske Bank scandal which exposed the threatening level of suspects that flowed unchecked through European banks in past years. This year European authorities will be less lenient and more assertive with enforcement when dealing with financial crimes. As the UK is committed to being a leader in fighting financial crimes and delivering effective financial regulations, this year the enactment of sanction and AML bill will give the UK the power to introduce its own AML legislation bill. Except for the UK, the US will maintain its regulatory financial footing by introducing new Fintech regulation. 

Standard AML rules for Crypto-businesses

As global cryptocurrency adoption continues, 2020 will be the year that such organizations get serious about AML compliance. Crypto poses AML risks for years and authorities have wrestled a lot for it. Now is the time that exchanges and mining will take a considered approach allowing for trade and investment under tight restrictions. The uneven landscape of cryptocurrency has prompted the development of the global regulatory framework.  The EU’s Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive AMLD5, implemented on 10 January 2020, will blow AML obligations for cryptocurrency exchanges which are to be compiled this year. All this enlightens that influencing big moves are expected in the global regulation of cryptocurrencies to prompt the industry to adopt new monitoring tools. So such exchanges will have to adhere to AML compliance this year as there is no other way. 

FinTech drives Demand for Automated AML

In 2020, a large number of firms will move to automated AML checks to scale faster in this increasing consumer adoption and subsequent transaction volume in this competitive FinTech climate. Manual AML generates a  massive amount of false positives which makes it difficult to onboard customers and process payments. Among so many false alarms there are high chances of missing the actual money launderers. So businesses are adopting digital solutions for AML and KYC to check who they are dealing with. This automation takes less time and is cost-effective. 

6AMLD is in the Next Big Change

Another AML directive by the EU is in the pipeline this year. This time the EU is keeping up with changing the international regime and targeting for uniform AML and CFT practices across the member countries. The new directives are to be integrated into national laws of member states by December 2020 and the reporting entities are required to fully implement the laws by June 2021. This new directive is well-drafted to close any loopholes left in AML and CFT regulations previously.

Enhanced Transaction Monitoring Solutions

This year, financial regulators will place an increased focus on the monitoring of AML risks which will include a push for businesses to adopt proper transaction monitoring processes. Regulators will expect businesses to have an effective system in place to monitor transactions. NYDFS Part 504 legislation will drive this requirement as a general move towards controls measured by the quality of outcomes. To help financial institutes configure a range of monitoring scenarios and analyze data more efficiently genuine suspicious activities need to be separated from false positives. In this regard, the availability of new transaction monitoring software platforms will become essential in 2020. Firms will gain a competitive advantage if they identify suspicious behavior patterns while cutting operational workloads.

KYC in blockchain with a focus on data protection and AML laws

Supplementing blockchain with KYC offers endless possibilities

While you may be tempted to think that decentralized and anonymous blockchains are safe because they are free of control from a single authority and work transparently, the reality, however, is a bit different, they are constant targets of scams. Even though the encryption makes it difficult to hack a blockchain system, its anonymity makes it a haven for criminals. Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies based on blockchain are used by the criminals for illicit money transfers.  

Blockchain technology based on a distributed ledger system has great potential and is increasingly being adopted in different industries. However, there are some challenges and concerns over the design and implementation of distributed ledger systems. One of the major concerns over the decentralized ledger system is data integrity and data protection. As recent developments in data privacy and protection laws proffer the user an authority on their data, the businesses are answerable to the user on how or where the data is being used. 

Realizing this, technologists and researchers are coming up with new technologies that can help embed blockchain-based businesses into the existing legal framework for data protection, customer due diligence, and Anti-Money Laundering (AML). Artificial Intelligence-based due diligence solutions are considered the best bet for this purpose but before discussing it let’s look at how blockchain works.

Blockchain and Distributed Ledger systems  

In a nutshell, a blockchain is a form of distributed ledger system representing a digital data structure in which records are organized in cryptographically sealed blocks. These blocks are time-stamped, replicated, and synchronized. Distributed over peer to peer networks they are often maintained by consensus algorithms. Blockchain technology is also referred to as a status transition machine where the specific token is assigned a status using cryptographic values within a blockchain.

Data Protection and Blockchain

Blockchains are designed with a high level of transparency to ensure trust in the system. However, this transparency also makes it challenging to comply with data regulation and protection regulations such as GDPR and AMLD5. BLockchains transparency is considered incompatible with data protection regulation because it is pseudonymous, not anonymous. A person is represented in the blockchain system with a public key created with cryptographic values. GDPR, on the other hand, defines it as personally identifiable information (PII). And once the data is written on the blockchain it is impossible to alter or delete that data. 

Moreover, the dualistic categorisation of data processors into controllers and processors by the GDPR raises issues such as no controller in the blockchain. Therefore many of the rights individuals are granted towards a controller cannot be addressed, as blockchain technology is not controlled by any centralized entity. These tensions between data protection regulations and blockchain in many challenges like unknown provider, alien jurisdiction, conflict of laws and many more.

Integrating Automated KYC verification solutions with blockchain

 

However, blockchain can guarantee more data privacy as well as data security, if the personal data is kept off the blockchain and only the key to transactional data is transformed into the blockchain. Data protection is crucial when using a distributed ledger system. To keep the system secure from hackers and bad actors, the personal information could be verified by performing customer due diligence for every entity entering the blockchain system, this way the consumers will be verified easily without entering their data on the blockchain.

The problem that constitutes here is that the time required for manual KYC verification contributes to rigid customer experiences and the errors that could lead to fatal losses. Nevertheless, employing an automated KYC verification solution could solve this problem easily.

Blockchain and Anti Money Laundering

Another major consideration in blockchain technology is security for users and businesses in general. Unfortunately, in almost any sort of blockchain both public and private, including cryptocurrencies, token networks, or Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) related blockchains, the security is watertight on one end and the other if a successful hack or phishing attack is successful it is not traceable.

The anonymity of blockchain means that the stolen data remains visible but untouchable. 

With such a possibility, in an unregulated space succumbing to massive speculation, regulators around the world are formulating protocols to govern everyone’s best interests in the blockchain era.

AML and KYC regulations around the wold have wider implications than the cryptocurrencies alone, but the main display of their implementation happens in the digital world. Applied to blockchain technology, AML implies KYC processes and, at times, conducting due diligence on the origin of the assets by tracing transactions or asking the bringer of the funds to prove the source of income. However, there lie challenges in (i) the early implementation of KYC/AML standards and (ii) the ability to understand the technology underlying the Blockchain to be able to identify the origin of the assets. When implementing a blockchain-based business, a company should work with KYC/AML tools even when raising private funds.

To enhance the KYC verification process companies can utilise AI-based verification tools that could be integrated into the registration process on a website, into which customers enter their basic personal information. Online fraud management and AML scanning tools can undertake background checks and document whether a source of funds seems plausible.

Harnessing blockchain 

Understanding Blockchain enables comprehension of its potential challenges and risks. It is important to understand the tools at hand before initiating or evaluating a Blockchain-based project. Supplementing blockchain with KYC verification has many possibilities and can help to fight against data theft, identity fraud, money laundering, and other illicit crimes that could be conducted by negatively exploiting blockchain technology. 

AML solutions: Eliminating the risks of money laundering

AML Solutions: Eliminating the Risks of Money Laundering

Money laundering is a serious crime that can have serious and long-term consequences for your business. Oftentimes, small business owners are offered business opportunities that they can’t simply pass up. It looks like easy money, so they accept and start serving as a facilitator for money laundering. According to a PwC survey, global money laundering transactions account for roughly $1 trillion to $2 trillion annually or 5% of global GDP.

What is money laundering?

The basic concept of money laundering revolves around transforming dirty money into clean money or in a more formal way, money laundering is the process of making a large amount of money generated through illegal activity appear to have earned through legitimate sources. 

Money laundering is typically done through 3 steps: placement, layering, and integration. 

  • Placement is to put illegal money into a legitimate financial system such as a bank
  • Layering is to mask the source of money through a series of transactions and bookkeeping techniques
  • Integration is to withdraw laundered money from a legal account and utilize it

Know more about money laundering process in this demo:

The money laundering is generally accomplished through currency exchanges, wire transfers, smurfing, and shell companies. Moreover, the globalization and digitalization have expanded the capabilities of money launderers, making it more difficult to identify the source of the transaction. Online banking, P2P services, money exchange businesses, and now cryptocurrency have made it difficult to detect the illegal transfer of money. 

However, laundering money is a serious offence. It could lead to heavy fines, penalties and even jail time. According to International Comparative Legal Guide, the maximum penalties for laundering money are fines up to $50,000 or double the amount of property involved, whichever is greater, and imprisonment up to 20 years for each violation. 

Risk of money laundering for small businesses

Small businesses are often the victims of money laundering. Criminals target small businesses because the owners of such businesses lack experience and knowledge about the risks involved with a certain type of business dealing. Further, they don’t have allocated resources and knowledge about Anti Money Laundering (AML) compliance.

Protecting your business against money laundering

By adopting anti-money laundering solutions and practices, you can protect your business from money laundering threats. 

What is Anti Money Laundering?

Anti-money laundering or AML is a methodology or a policy that governs: how the company monitors transactions, detects and reports financial crimes to the regulatory authority. For this purpose, companies adopt different AML solutions that screens and tackles money laundering risks, which the company faces or could face in the future.

AML compliance was first coined with the formation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in 1989. The main concept for its formation was to devise international standards to prevent money laundering and to promote these standards.

In past AML laws has been slow to catch up with cybercrimes, since most of the AML solutions were deployed for traditional banking institutes. However, amid the digital transformation, FATF and other regulatory authorities started focusing on digital transactions and devised stringent regulations to prevent money laundering using digital platforms.

To follow and comply with these regulations, businesses need AML solutions that could detect suspicious transactions and perform due diligence during the onboarding process.    

Automated AML solutions for enhancing AML process

Artificial intelligence and machine learning have been transforming different operational sectors in the finance industry. Automating the tasks that involve data processing and analyzation, filtering out false alerts, and identifying complex criminal conducts are some of the tasks that are being automated using artificial intelligence. To prevent money laundering, banks and other financial institutes use AI-driven AML solutions. These systems are used to identify and categorise suspicious transactional activities.

AI is deemed crucial for performing repetitive tasks while saving time, resources and efforts, which can be reallocated for other tasks. Natural language processing and machine learning are usually adopted for automating AML screening tasks. 

6 Ways AML Solutions can prevent Small Businesses from Money Laundering

Here are ways in which AI-driven AML solutions have revolutionised customer and business screening.

Enhanced due diligence

Artificial intelligence automates the enhanced due diligence process. It starts by taking steps to ensure you know who you are dealing with, understanding and monitoring their transactional activities and accessing their risks of money laundering.

Monitoring transactions and activity

AI-powered risk-based solutions and procedures help monitor ongoing customer activity to detect fraud, as well as money laundering activities including but not limited to placement, layering, and integration of funds.

Reviewing odd patterns of transactions

In most of the cases, launderers use hundreds of different accounts to perform small transactions that can easily surpass without being detected. While it’s difficult for humans to identify such transactions, automated AML solutions can easily identify such smaller transactions and reveal a pattern of illegal activity related to money laundering or terrorist financing.

Identifying Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs)

PEPs compliance is mandatory for firms. It is crucial to identify the risks associated with your customers. According to FATF, any person who is or has been holding any public office or function is a politically exposed person and to do business with any such entity, organisations should perform enhanced due diligence and monitor their ongoing transactional activities.  

Money laundering is a serious risk for small businesses. In addition to facing criminal charges and hefty fines. Involving in money laundering activity intentionally or accidentally could lead to fines and may damage your brand reputation. With this in mind, small business owners need to study and comply with AML regulations. 

An inside look at the need for AML in the e-gaming industry

An inside look at the need for AML in the e-gaming industry

Data analytics and trends show the penetration of the population into console-based online video games and smartphone gaming applications. Online video gaming platforms having microtransaction features tend to handle much of financial transactions on their own, they are not considered a bank or a saving association. Therefore do not lie under the regulations of the Office of Foreign Assets Control or Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). However, the facility of financial transactions to buy gaming assets are raising several security challenges in the e-gaming industry. 

Financial frauds, the major threat the e-gaming industry is prone to. Money laundering, a huge financial crime is facilitated using the gaming industry a medium. By selling digital goods and currency (in-game), money laundering activities are conducted. The rise of online gaming has opened the ways for fraudsters to conduct financial crimes in the complex environment in which players operate. The loopholes in the gaming systems are well-analyzed and misused by laundering millions. This is challenging for the e-gaming industry to regulate the sector and deter the risks of financial crimes. 

Moreover, money launderers use e-gaming platforms to convert embezzle funds into good money. The video game industry can reduce money laundering activities by taking in place dynamic AML practices that filter out the bad actors beforehand. 

Anti-Money Laundering and Countering of Terrorist Financing (AML/CFT)

To disguise the ownership of illicit funds, money launderers use several means to hide money or convert it into legitimate money. The money that is earned as a result of cross-border organized criminal activities is concealed by money launderers either by transferring it across the world or buying properties with that. This is what happens in the online gaming industry. Assets are bought with in-game currency and in the form of assets, money is laundered. 

Having a comprehensive AML and CFT program is not only a regulatory requirement but a business practice on which business reputation, as well as profits, are dependent. Moreover, to fight against the criminal liabilities facilitated through e-gaming platforms can better be avoided taking in place stringent AML and CFT actions. 

Player identification

Online casinos’ major concern is fraud prevention. Especially money laundering that is residing in the industry can better be prevented by identifying each onboarding player at the time of account registration and financial transactions. Customer Due Diligence and AML background checks should be implemented in real-time while onboarding a player. This will help build a clean customer base.

Player identification usually can be performed by verifying the identity details. By authenticating official ID documents, KYC compliance can be achieved. The real-time captured information is then validated against the updated global watchlists. AML screening is performed during identity validation in which various AM background checks are implemented that ensure the identity’s data against exclusion lists such as;

  • Sanction Lists
  • Government-issued Data Sources
  • Watchlists
  • Money Launderers
  • Criminal Databases
  • Politically Exposed Persons (PEPs) List

By collecting the extensive details from identity and validating them against criminal databases, online casinos and gaming platforms can build a compliance program that can help them comply with local and global regulatory obligations as well as protect their business from any monetary loss. 

Moreover, ongoing identity monitoring is equally important. One time identity verification can not help eliminate money laundering activities entirely. In-between identity verification deters the risks of malicious transactions and suspicious activities. Just to overcome the effort of identity verification, biometric identification can help in robust verification without compromising user experience and keeping intact the security perspectives simultaneously. 

Other money-laundering countermeasures

Other than verifying the identity of a player, countermeasures can be taken that prevent the direct and indirect approaches of fraudsters of laundering money. These measures are:

  • Detective and preventive controls in assistance with technology should be taken to investigate if some players are exchanging the information among themselves to cheat the gaming system and perform money laundering.
  • Preventive measures against identity theft should be taken to avoid the misuse of someone’s identity by the fraudster to launder money. 
  • The customer information collected at the time of identity verification should be protected from any uncontrolled/unauthorized access. 
  • The customer’s credit card details should be protected from unauthorized access.
  • Enhanced Due Diligence measures to combat money launderers from entering into a legitimate system.
  • Prohibiting direct payment system between customers.
  • Monitoring the transactions between countries and immediate blocking when money is sent to some country that does not register previously as the home country.
  • Reporting of suspicious transactions to the Financial Intelligence Unit.

Risk-based approach

Online gaming companies are required to evaluate the measures they have taken to counter bad actors and their malevolent activities in an online environment. Identification of risks and mitigating them to avoid severe circumstances is the priority of every business. Assigning each onboarding identity a risk rating can help prevent money laundering in the e-gaming sector. With the risk rating approach, gaming companies can develop appropriate AML and CFT measures to combat potential threats. 

Future prospects to combat money laundering in e-gaming

The online video gaming industry will be evolving in the years ahead and create new opportunities for enhanced monetization. By employing an enhanced identity verification framework, the e-gaming sector can proactively avoid regulatory fines and penalties. Identity verifications supported by AI-based and machine learning models that facilitate automation facility would be the future of combating money laundering from the online gaming industry. Hence, providing a financially safer platform and a secure environment from bad actors. Moreover, improved revenue generation opportunities for e-gaming seems to be on the way in years ahead. 

danske to face 2 billion fine for money

Danske to face $2 billion fine for money laundering

According to Jyske Bank, Danske will probably be fined around 13.5 billion kroner (around $2 billion) over the money laundering case by authorities in Denmark, the USA, and the UK, as the investigations in Europe’s biggest money-laundering scandal draw to a close.

Danske Bank was previously indicted for suspicious transactions of 200 billion euros at there Estonian unit. The Denmark-based bank is cooperating with probes by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, among others. Another writ, which was filed on December 27th, 2019, in the district court of Cophengan by law firm Nemeth Sigetty, is for about 1.5 billion kroner, according to a statement.

Penalties tied to investigations will drive up Danske’s operating expenses to 42.4 billion kroner this year, according to an analyst at Jyske Bank. The costs are expected to return to normal next year.

As Danske Bank released the full dimensions of laundering scandal in September 2018, it’s shares have taken a beating. It now trades at large discounts to peers and Jyske, which recommends buying the stock, says the current price more than incorporates the consequences of the money-laundering scandal.

Two More Crypto Firms to Shut Down Over EU Money Laundering Regulations

Two More Crypto Firms to Shut Down Over EU Money Laundering Regulations

Two more cryptocurrency firms – mining pool Simplecoin and bitcoin gaming platform Chopcoin – are shutting down because of the AMLD5 regulations of the European Union. 

The 5th directive of the Anti-Money Laundering regulations comes into effect on January 10, 2020. 

A notice on the Simplecoin website reads that the firm is closing down on the 1st of January because the new rules will require firms to identify their users and implement several anti-money laundering (AML) and know-your-customer (KYC) requirements. This is against the protection of users’ privacy. 

According to Simplecoin, 

‘When the laws come into effect, we would be forced to require you, the users, to identify yourselves for anti-money-laundering purposes. Mining should be available to anyone and we refuse to jeopardize our users’ privacy.’ 

Users of Simplecoin will have time until December 20 to withdraw funds and until December 21 to delete their account information. After this date, the wallets and entire platform will shut down. 

Chopcoin is another crypto firm that is shutting down because of AMLD5 since it imposes more stringent reporting obligations for cryptocurrency firms. Under the AMLD5, the Financial Intelligence Units will be authorized to obtain the addresses and identities of all the owners and users of cryptocurrency.

Apart from Simplecoin and Chopcoin, other crypto firms are also being impacted by the regulations. Last week, a cryptocurrency payments startup, Bottle Pay, announced that it is shutting down on December 31 because of AMLD5 laws. According to Bottle Pay, the AMLD5 regulations will “alter the current user experience so radically, and so negatively, that we are not willing to force this onto our community.” Just three months prior, Bottle Pay raised $2 million in a seed funding round. 

AML compliance checklist for efficient AML screening in 2020

AML compliance checklist for efficient AML screening in 2020

2019 brought a plethora of AML regulations for businesses and non-compliance is no more an option in 2020, it’s an obligation. 

When AML compliance is inevitable, let’s see how it can be performed smartly to get efficient results. This checklist will help businesses thinking about compliance and those who want to update their compliance operations in 2020. 

The amount of globally laundered money is about 2 – 5% of global GDP in one year (report of the United Nations). And the report of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) stated that at least £100bn was laundered through the UK. The need for an efficient and constructive AML compliance is inevitable for global business entities. 

Efficient AML compliance is practicing obligatory scrutiny on customers while adopting a data-centric approach in collecting and analyzing customer data to gain useful risk-management insights. The customers’ data collected through automated due diligence solutions should be used to perform customized risk management and to assign customers a realistic risk rating. 

In short efficient AML compliance brings in several other benefits apart from eliminating non-compliance penalties. It helps businesses onboard secure clientele, develop transparent B2C and B2B relationships, improved brand reputation and market value.

AML Compliance Checklist - Infographic 2020 

2019 changed the facet of Global AML Regulation

2019 was a very unpredictable year when it comes to AML/KYC regulations. The global regulatory authorities drafted some strict AML regulations and also increased the scope of those regulations. Several new industries were also added to the scope of global AML regulations. 

FATF took a revolutionary step and issued a digital ID systems guide for the reporting entities to utilize when performing digital identity screening on their customers. The draft of the digital ID system is issued for edits from the stakeholders and it is expected to motivate businesses to move towards automated AML screening of their customers.

On the other hand, the European Union (EU) amended the Fourth Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD4) and published the AMLD5 in the official journal of the EU in June 2018. It increased the scope of the AML regulations to the virtual assets sector, prepaid cards, and real estate sector. The identity verification threshold for the prepaid cards is reduced to EUR 150 from EUR 250. Also, the identity verification threshold for remote payments is set at EUR 50. 

Also, AUSTRAC, the U.S treasury, and the UK regulatory authority introduced new regulations and expanded the scope of the current AML regulations. Read more about these changes in this blog.   

AML/KYC – how 2019 changed the landscape of global regimes? 

Although the regulations changed a lot, the primary compliance requirements are the same in global regulations and they are mentioned below. But these are just the requirements following which would just be compliance and following these regulations smartly will help in efficient and productive AML compliance in 2020. 

Five Components of AML Compliance

Below are the primary components in global AML/KYC regimes, implemented by authorities such as FATF, FinCEN, FINTRAC, FINMA, etc. 

Policies, Controls and Procedures

The policies, controls, and procedures of the company must be aligned with the AML regulations. Ensure that the due diligence, customer verification, record keeping, risk assessment, and reporting operations of the company are aligned with the regulations. The AML regulations changed a lot in 2019 and the businesses must align their compliance procedures with the changed regulations. 

Awareness and Traning of Employees

It is important to train the employees at all hierarchical levels to comply with AML regulations. Making compliance a habit of the employees is important. A sense of accountability must be maintained at all levels. The Danske bank scandal which shook the financial world also happened due to a lack of accountability at an executive level.  

For efficient AML compliance train your employees regarding the changes in the regulatory framework and how they should play their part in making the company fraud-free. As efficient compliance is possible with a team effort from all the employees. 

Record Keeping

A proper updated record of customer information and AML screening must be maintained in a secure manner. In some regulations, it is to be maintained for five years even after a relationship with a client is ceased. 

For efficient AML screening, this record must be used to predict the future prospects of the company and assign customized risk ratings to the customers. 

Customer Due Diligence (CDD) 

The most important part of AML regulations is the verification of the customers and business entities related to your business. For customer due diligence the basic identity verification along with AML screening must be practiced. The customers must be verified against watchlists, sanction lists, and PEPs lists. 

For efficient AML compliance, don’t just verify the customer against domestic watchlists but practice global risk prevention and verify the customers against global watchlists. 

Reporting

Reporting is a crucial part of AML compliance. It includes reporting the unusual transaction that is above the predetermined threshold made by your customers. It helps in mitigating the unpredicted risk coming from businesses. It increases the credibility of a reporting entity. 

Devise efficient AML screening in-house protocols to keep an eye on the transaction of all customers and especially the high-risk entities. 

AML Compliance Checklist for efficient AML compliance 

Digital AML compliance solution helps in automated AML screening of prospects. And also shares the customer screening burden of the reporting entity. Below is the AML compliance checklist to experience efficient AML compliance in 2020 with the help of an AML screening solution. 

Practice global coverage in Customers Verification

In order to practice enhanced due diligence, the businesses must perform global AML screening on their customers. While onboarding a global clientele it becomes difficult for the businesses to practice AML screening on people coming from different corners of the world with ID cards in different languages. 

An AML screening solution helps in performing global AML screening on individuals. And on the businesses as well, so helps you stay one step ahead of fraudsters and also competitors who stick to minimum AML compliance requirements. 

Ongoing monitoring of customers

Performing customer due diligence is mandatory but it is required to be performed only at the time of onboarding a customer. On the other hand, efficient AML compliance is not limited to just minimum protocols so perform AML screening on your customers (especially the high-risk entities) at regular intervals. The risk status of a customer could change anytime. Ongoing AML screening of customers helps in identifying the in-house risk. 

Perform verifications but with Security

Not only money but the personal credentials of your customers are also an asset that needs to be protected from hackers. So be sure that the customer data is in safe hands. Also, AML regulations come with data protection laws. The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in the EU and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in the U.S are some common data protection regulations imposed on businesses collecting the data of their customers. 

Using the AML screening solution that complies with the GDPR regulations also share the burden of data protection regulations. 

Proactive risk management through valuable risk insights about your prospects

The valuable insights about the prospects (individuals and businesses) help in crafting a proper risk management framework. For example, the nationality verification helps in deciding whether a customer should be verified under CDD or Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD). 

A customer could claim to be from a low-risk country, ID card screening and AML screening against global watchlists will ensure that the person is actually who he claims to be. 

Record keeping through Intuitive back office

Record keeping is important for reporting entities. A digital AML screening solution reduces the burden here as well with the help of an intuitive back office. The verification proof of real-time verification is stored in the back office and it can be used to practice efficient AML compliance on your platform. These proofs help businesses in proving that they actually performed verification on a certain customer.

The world is changing and businesses need to move towards automation to perform their compliance operations in a smart manner. Following the minimal regulations is no more enough. Businesses need to take voluntary steps towards AML screening of their customers to practice efficient AML compliance in 2020. Following the above-mentioned AML compliance checklist will help in proactive fraud prevention and unlocking more growth opportunities.

British Columbia Makes Regulatory Change to Combat Money Laundering

British Columbia Makes Regulatory Change to Combat Money Laundering

The British Columbia government is providing the gambling regulator of the province more independence to establish and ensure regulatory policy in order to combat money laundering. 

According to the government, the gaming control and enforcement branch will be transitioned to a new independent gambling control office. The new office will focus solely on regulatory policy related to gambling, horse racing and responsible-gaming programs. 

Until this initiative, the branch has enforced policy while also providing advice to the province on business matters involving the British Columbia Lottery Corp. 

Attorney General of British Columbia, David Eby, said the change addresses concerns raised by former RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) officer Peter German in a report for the provincial government. The concerns were about the dual responsibility and how it could give rise to conflicts of interest and impede anti-money laundering measures. 

Eby expects the change to be effective and says, 

“The IGCO will have the mandate, authority, and independence to ensure the overall integrity of gambling in B.C. This change will make it far easier to keep dirty money out of our province.”

American Gaming Association Updates Best Practices for AML

American Gaming Association Updates Best Practices for AML

The American Gaming Association (AGA) has released updated “Best Practices for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance for the year 2019-2020”. The update reflects on the industry’s continuing commitment to AML compliance and guides casinos’ efforts to protect the US financial system from money laundering and other related financial crimes. 

The gaming industry became the first industry to collectively establish a complete set of best practices for AML compliance in 2014. The Best Practices along with the AGA’s Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) compliance efforts have been lauded by the US Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). 

The updated Best Practices contain a more comprehensive risk assessment section as well as enhanced Know Your Customer (KYC) and Customer Due Diligence (CDD) measures. The update is based on FinCEN’s guidance and enforcement action takeaways, the Treasury Department’s National Money Laundering Risk Assessment and the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s updated compliance guidelines. 

The president and CEO of AGA, Bill Miller, said, 

“As one of the most highly regulated industries in the United States, it is imperative we take every possible step to discourage illicit behaviour and safeguard the integrity of the casino industry. Through our ongoing partnership with FinCEN, the Treasury Department, and law enforcement, our industry continues to be a leader in compliance.”

 

EU’s AMLD5: What does it mean and how will it impact the AML regulation regimes?

EU’s AMLD5: What does it mean and how will it impact the AML regulation regimes?

From the Panama papers, Paradise leaks and Danske Bank case to the most recent revelations about SEB bank, money laundering scandals over the last few years have taken the world by storm. As general awareness about money laundering strengthened, so did the pressure on the regulatory authorities across the globe to counter build proper anti-money laundering laws and regulations

With every new revelation, lawmakers gain a great insight into how the financial system can be exploited and, as a result, find better ways to devise new amendments in already existing laws.

This is one of the reasons why the European Commission proposed the 5th Money Laundering Directive only a year after the legalization of AMLD4. Although published in the official journal of the EU in June 2018, AMLD5 was originally proposed in July 2016 as a part of its action plan against terror financing and money laundering, after the Paris and Brussels attacks, and as a reaction to Panama paper published in 2016.

The primary intention to make changes by January 2017 looked over-aggressive; a final devised text was reached in December 2017. 5th Money laundering Directive came into force in July 2018, and member states are required to make amendments in national laws accordingly before 20th January 2020.

What are the Key Changes in the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive? 

AMLD5 serves greater prospects and shows the European Union’s leadership role in AML legislation. One of the key features of AMLD5 is that it proposes changes in already existing legislation in AMLD4, instead of replacing them.

The precise amendments that the fifth directive proposed are:

  • The scope of money laundering screening is extended to virtual currency providers, art worker traders, e-wallet providers, and tax-related services.
  • European member states require to develop a list containing all public offices and its functions nationally that qualify as politically exposed (PEP) for enhanced due diligence.
  • Financial flows from high-risk non-European states are subjected to high due diligence.
  • AMLD5 makes it obligatory to consult beneficial ownership registers while performing AML screening.
  • The directive also recommends that access to beneficial ownership information for EU based businesses should be made publicly accessible. In AMLD4, this information was not publicly accessible.
  • It also ends the anonymity of saving accounts and safe deposits across all the banks under the European Union.
  • Information on real estate holders is to be made centrally available to public authorities across Europe.
  • The payment threshold for prepaid cards and e-money is to be lowered. Previously, the threshold was a maximum of 250 euros. AMLD5 requires this threshold to be lowered further to 150 euros.

What are the Key Changes in the 5th Anti Money Laundering Directive?

Following the spirit to become AML leaders in the world and to stop money laundering across Europe, the European Commission requires member states to implement these changes in national laws by January 20th, 2020. And as the deadline imposed by the EU ends almost in a month, let us have a deep dive into how it will impact the AML regulations landscape for businesses across Europe.

How will AMLD5 impact Anti Money Laundering Regulation Regime?

Virtual Currency Service Providers in Scope

Since the virtual currency is the talk of the town for a while now and regulators are finding ways to regulate decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins, AMLD5 will apply to virtual currency service providers as well as electronic wallet providers, to cover the risks associated with cryptocurrencies. In addition to this, the traders of artwork and entities rendering tax-related services are also in the scope of AMLD5 regulations.

Enhanced KYC including access to Beneficial Ownership Information

The business across Europe are obliged to consult related registers while performing KYC. However, for now, it is only applicable to the businesses registered and operating under the European Union.

Public Access to Beneficial Ownership Information

AMLD4 required the member states to maintain central registers for beneficial ownership information and required interested parties to demonstrate legitimate access to beneficial ownership registers. Under the AMLD5, this information is to be made publicly available except for trusts and similar legal arrangments. 

In such cases, legal information about beneficial ownership will be granted to anyone demonstrating a legitimate interest. The beneficial ownership information will be comprised of; the name of the beneficial owner, date of birth, nationality, country of residence, and the extent of the beneficial interest held in that particular business.

Access to Information on Real Estate Holders

Money Laundering through real estate is estimated to reach $1.6 trillion a year. Owing to this, the AMLD5 makes information on real estate holders, available to the public authorities. This does not require to maintain a central register for the information.

Lower Prepaid Card and E-Money Threshold

Prepaid cards are being used in money laundering across the globe. According to the FBI, drug cartels utilize prepaid cards to launder illegally earned money from drug sales across the United States. For identifying prepaid cardholders, AMLD5 lowered the threshold of prepaid cards from 250 euros to 150 euros. Furthermore, E-money transactions using prepaid cards are lowered to 50 euros. 

No member state is allowed to increase this amount, however, these amounts can be lowered further. AMLD5 not only lowers this amount but also includes strict restrictions on anonymous prepaid cards issued in non-member countries.

Regulations for Bank Accounts and Safe Deposit Box

One of the stricter regulations in AMLD5 is the abolishment of the anonymity of bank accounts, saving accounts, and safe deposit boxes. Member states are obliged to design central registries or data retrieval systems by September 10, 2020, which will be directly accessible by the Financial Intelligence Units and competent national authorities.

Once the directive is transformed into legislation, the financial institutions will require to build or render digital KYC services for the onboarding process and it is important for the financial institutes to attain clear guidance on this directive and formulate strategies accordingly.    

EU Takes First Step to Set Up Anti-Money Laundering Supervisor

EU Takes First Step to Set Up Anti-Money Laundering Supervisor

The European Union should contemplate creating an independent agency to supervise anti-money laundering compliance, the bloc’s finance ministers said Thursday. 

The finance ministers have urged the executive arm of the EU to evaluate and develop legislative proposals to establish a new supervisory body. 

In the EU, anti-money laundering supervision is largely handled on a country-by-country basis in the EU rather than through one central agency. 

The push by the finance ministers comes amid a plethora of allegations of weak internal control at some of the largest banks in the region. In a July report, the European Commission accepted that this fragmentation is the cause of the increased criminal activity in the financial system. 

A statement issued by the Council of the European Union, comprising of the bloc’s finance ministers said that the commission should explore the “possibilities, advantages and disadvantages” of creating an independent, EU-level body. The council also asked for more inclusive harmonization of anti-money laundering regulations across all the member states. 

A critical issue in the topic of a central agency for anti-money laundering is the level of authority an EU-level body should have. On Thursday, representatives from several countries raised their concerns about proposals that could limit the power of national supervisors.

Kaja Tael, permanent representative of Estonia to the EU, said 

“National authorities have a lot to offer—they have the local know-how, the ability to react quickly. But international cooperation needs to be improved.”

The Expected No-Deal Brexit and AML/CFT Laws in the UK

The Expected No-Deal Brexit and AML/CFT Laws in the UK

The current prime minister of the UK Mr. Boris Johnson made a statement that the UK should be ready for no-deal Brexit in 2020. In case the UK is unable to get the Brexit deal done by the end of December 2019, it’ll have to go for no-deal Brexit in January 2020. And the prime minister is all set to get the Brexit done by the end of 2019. In case the Brexit is done, December would be the transition period and the UK will get some time for getting things on the track.

Brexit – A Timeline

In June 2016, the UK voted to leave the EU and then prime minister David Cameron resigned the other day. Since the UK took the initiative of leaving the EU, it’s political infrastructure faced some significant changes including the resignation of the last two prime ministers and the delays in the Brexit day. The latest delay was of 31st October 2019. It was expected that the UK will leave the EU with the deal designed by former prime minister Theresa May but it got postponed and now it is expected to be completed in December or the UK will have to leave the EU with a no-deal. 

What is a no-deal Brexit?

A no-deal Brexit is a scenario that depicts that the EU and the UK were unable to reach a joint agreement on Brexit and the UK would leave the EU immediately without a transition period. The UK will leave the single market and the customs union and will have to follow the laws of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Also, the UK will have to introduce its new regulations for AML compliance and the country will face a major shift in its legal framework. The country will also have to form new trade agreements with neighboring EU countries and might face delays in trade due to this shift. 

No-deal Brexit will have an impact on the seamless implementation of AMLD-5. In case the UK leaves the EU without a deal it will have problems in data sharing that is to be practiced in case of implementation of the AMLD-5. 

What is a deal Brexit?

A deal Brexit is what the UK seems to be struggling for the past few years. It means the UK and the EU will agree on certain “Divorce terms” related to trade, law enforcement, data sharing, immigration, etc. 

So far it seems that the UK will be forced for a no-deal Brexit due to the approaching deadline of the end of December 2019. 

What will be the consequences of no-deal Brexit on the financial infrastructure of the UK?

Nicola Gratteri a public prosecutor in Calabria predicted that Brexit might aid the Italian mafia in pooling in their illegal money to the UK. Shell companies will be the safe haven of criminals to legitimize their cash proceeds from drug dealing, human trafficking, etc. 

AML laws and AML compliance 

The current AML laws of the UK are aligned with the EU. But in case of a no-deal Brexit or a deal Brexit, the UK will have to form its own laws. The only difference is that in case of a no-deal Brexit it’ll have to form new laws quickly as there’ll be a gap between law enforcement and this gap will be exploited by the criminals. 

The businesses in the UK and the EU will have to change their AML/KYC compliance practices as per the requirements of the new laws. The EU countries will be in a transformation period and the businesses will have to follow to cope up with the changing laws. 

AMLD-5 and its implementation

The AMLD-5 is expected to be implemented in January 2020. AMLD-5 increased the scope of AML regulations. The identity verification threshold for the prepaid cards was reduced to EUR 50, in case of remote transactions. 

The UK has always been very keen on implementing AML/KYC regulations in the country. In case the UK leaves EU with no-deal Brexit it’s AMLD-5 implementation will be affected by this shift. It’ll no more be liable for AMLD-5 compliance in its country. But it is also expected that the UK will change its Money Laundering Regulation (MLR) as per AMLD-5 regulations to practice thorough risk prevention. 

The businesses in the UK are now swinging between two scenarios, either they should prepare to follow AMLD-5 in 2020 or not.

Trade friction

Not only this but the UK will face friction in its trade and it will no more be a part of the single market and it will cause regulatory friction. As the UK will not have any transition period to settle things down unless the new laws are formed and implemented properly. 

In case the UK-leaves with a no-deal Brexit it would have the opportunity to make trade deals with other countries without long delays. In case of a deal, the scenario would be the opposite and the UK would follow the EU laws during the transition period. 

How Brexit will impact businesses in the UK and the EU?

Brexit is bound to affect the business community. It is expected that the community will face a plethora of changing regulations while continuing trade in the EU region. The businesses will have to change their AML/KYC compliance practices. In case the EU adopted the AML regulations of the EU, things might become easier for the businesses. 

The AMLD-5 implementation is also a headache for businesses these days as they are uncertain if they should follow the instructions or not. 

The uncertainty in the financial regulatory landscape of the UK is most likely to be exploited by financial criminals looking for loopholes in the regulatory framework of a country. 

How Digital AML/KYC screening will help businesses in the upcoming plethora of guidelines?

Also, the businesses dealing in the EU and the UK will face problems in aligning their AML/KYC compliance practices as per the regulatory requirements in both the regions. The digital KYC solution is designed to cater to the global AML/KYC compliance requirements of businesses. Using a global AML screening solution will help the businesses retain growth even if there is a crisis situation.

Brexit is expected to be completed in December 2019 and it is expected to change the financial landscape of the UK forever. In order to come out of this storm of changing regulations, digital KYC and AML screening solutions will be helpful.

FastBitcoins Joins Hands with Shufti Pro for Screening of their Customers

FastBitcoins Joins Hands with Shufti Pro for Screening of their Customers

London, UK – (October 2019) Shufti Pro joins forces with FastBitcoins to allow them to provide safe, secure and user-friendly Bitcoin services that enable the Bitcoin economy via their merchant client base. Shufti Pro will provide them a global risk cover through its state of the art AML screening and document verification services.

Shufti Pro is an identity verification and KYC/KYB/AML screening service provider that can verify the identity of people through document verification, face verification, etc. Recently it onboarded a bitcoin business, FastBitcoins and it will verify and perform AML screening on FastBitcoin’s customers in real-time through document verification.

The demand for Bitcoin is growing globally as more people come to understand its worth as a store-of-value. As a result of this, governments around the world are increasing regulatory scrutiny in a bid to maintain fraud-free virtual currencies markets. 

By adopting Shufti Pro’s screening services, FastBitcoins is providing duty-of-care to the people trusting its services, when they are required to identify those they are doing business with, ensuring their legal commitments are fulfilled in a manner that is simple and secure for their clients. The services of Shufti Pro delivers true value for its customers. 

Danny Brewster, MD at FastBitcoins expressed his confidence in this collaboration and said: “Our success comes down to making sure our customers can buy Bitcoin in the fastest and simplest way possible. Where the requirement to verify customer identity arises, Shufti Pro has ensured we can handle it in a straightforward, user-friendly manner. The main reason we selected Shufti Pro is that they offer a reliable technology at a competitive price for a start-up, we are placing trust in them to keep the data provided by our users safe and secure and it was not a decision that was taken lightly when choosing to work with them.” 

Shufti Pro is also excited to onboard FastBitcoins for identity verification and AML screening of their customers. Shufti Pro will provide document verification and AML screening services to FastBitcoins. Mr. Victor Fredung expressed the excitement of his company towards this collaboration and said,

“We’re delighted to have FastBitcoins onboard and look forward to maintaining this collaboration for the longterm. Shufti Pro will deliver its unrivaled risk cover to FastBitcoins through document verification and AML screening of its prospective clients. Our services are best suited for them because we give a truly global coverage in our identity verification services delivered with a high-precision rate.” 

About FastBitcoins 

FastBitcoins provides a complete solution for business owners looking to make extra income from the Bitcoin revolution. Their point-of-sale technology empowers merchants to expand their product offerings and attract new customers with innovative services based around the world’s most recognized digital currency.

Merchants use their simple handheld terminal to let customers buy and sell Bitcoin, make payments in Bitcoin, and purchase prepaid vouchers from over 5,000 international brands, all with no previous experience required.

About Shufti Pro

Shufti Pro is an identity verification service provider that offers KYC and AML solutions to worldwide clients. Using a hybrid approach of AI and HI technology, Shufti Pro delivers results within 30 seconds with accuracy as high as 98.67%. Having verified users in over 232 countries, Shufti Pro is a pioneer in IDV services to cover a large number of countries.

You can visit Shufti Pro here:

Shufti Pro Limited

1st Floor, 35 Little Russell St, Holborn,

 London WC1A 2HH, UK

info@shuftipro.com

www.shuftipro.com

FATF Guideline Key Features

RegTech – FATF Guidance for Digital Identity Verification

Regulatory authorities have recognized the benefits of technology and its use for seamless regulatory compliance and scrutiny. Digital identity verification referred to as “digital ID systems” in the FATF guidelines, is a futuristic approach towards fraud prevention. FATF recently issued a guideline for digital ID systems, their use cases, the risks involved and the benefits of such solutions. 

FATF took this initiative back in 2017. It showed its positive attitude towards technological solutions for regulatory compliance that are aligned with the regulations of FATF. Since then FATF has been working on developing guidelines for such fintech and RegTech solutions, that will further make this industry fraud-free. As the guideline highlighted that risk prevails in the fintech industry as well and it can be mitigated through regulatory compliance. The FATF guideline on the digital ID systems is still under scrutiny and it requested suggestions for public stakeholders to leave no loophole for financial criminals. 

FATF Guideline Key Features

The following are the key features of FATF guidance on digital ID systems. It is expected that the final draft of guidance will be very much different from the current draft. 

 

  • Stakeholders of the Digital ID guidance

 

FATF developed guidelines to assist in regulatory compliance, supervision, examination, and cybersecurity authorities by government organizations involved in policymaking. Also, the private sector that delivers digital ID systems will have a lot to gain from the guidance. 

Last but not least, the businesses and organizations that use outsourced digital ID systems will also benefit from this guidance, as it will help them to choose the best Digital ID verification solution. 

 

  • Limitations of the guidance

 

The guidance draft issued by FATF doesn’t cover any information regarding some Customer Due Diligence (CDD) practices. The guidance doesn’t cover the CDD through digital ID for legal person verification, Ultimate Beneficiary Owner (UBO) screening, and nature of a business relationship. 

There is no doubt that digital ID verification can serve these above-mentioned purposes as well but for the time being FATF didn’t cover these in this guidance. 

 

  • Main components and participants of the digital Identity systems

 

The guidance mentioned three main components and participants that it seeks to be available in digital identity systems used by the entities. It includes the process of identity screening through digital ID systems, the ongoing screening and the technical aspects of the digital identity systems. 

  • Identity proofing and enrollment is the first component and it involves the collection and verification of customer data. A picture is shown on the 13th page of the guidance draft and it shows the process of collection of data from the official identity document (like ID card) and then screening of the information to verify the identity of a customer. The component one also includes the verification of a person through biometrics like face verification and liveness detection to ensure that the original person is providing the identity evidence.

 

  • Identification and identity lifecycle management is the second component and it includes the information regarding the stakeholders that need to be verified. The system should be designed to verify the identity of new customers and to verify the identity of already existing customers. It also mentioned that the digital identity system can be used every time a customer logs in to his/her account online or for every face to face interaction with the customers. Such verification should be performed on all the transactions and events mentioned in the FATF regulations regarding identity verification.  

 

  • Portability of identity proof is the third component that allows the end-users to develop portable identities that will be issued for future verification. 

 

 

  • References 

 

The guidance referred to NIFT Digital ID Guidelines and EU’s EIDAS Regulations and explained how Digital ID systems help in the effective implementation of CFT and AML regulations. 

 

 

  • Technical standards

 

The Digital ID systems that follow the guidelines of following international standard organizations are good to go as per the guideline:

  • various jurisdictions or supra-national jurisdictions (e.g. eIDAS Regulation by the European Union)
  • International Organization for Standardization (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), Faster Identity Online (FIDO) Alliance, and the OpenID Foundation (OIDF), and
  • International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and GSMA (for industry-specific). 

To wrap up, businesses are required to comply with KYC, AML and CDD recommendations of FATF in every corner of the world. Now FATF is making things easier for them by developing a guideline for digital ID systems. Just follow this guideline for choosing the best identity verification solution for your business.

EU Contemplates New

EU Contemplates New Anti-Money Laundering Body in the Wake of Scandals

Brussels plans to pursue the strengthening of powers of the EU agencies to combat money laundering and mitigate terrorist financing following a series of high profile scandals. These scandals have given insight into Europe’s insufficiencies in addressing criminal cross-border cash flow. 

The EU is working on proposals that would enable the European Banking Authority, the EU’s banking regulator, to acquire increased enhancement powers and more resources. According to senior officials, this would help the authority to better investigate the proceedings of banks involved in illegal financing. 

In other plans, the commission wants to empower the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO), a newly established pan-EU agency, to launch inquiries into the terrorist financing activity across it member states from 2025. 

Both of the initiatives are still being finalized and are most likely to be highlighted in EU’s president, Jean-Claude Juncker’s annual “State of the Union” speech on Wednesday. These initiatives are due to be officially announced the following week.  

The push to strengthen pan-EU anti-money laundering (AML) powers comes after a major disclosure. As much as $30 billion of former-Soviet and Russian money circulated through the Estonian branch of a Danish bank, Danske, in a single year. 

Earlier this month, the Dutch bank, ING, was also fined €775 million as the penalty for failing to properly enforce anti-money laundering regulations. 

These cases are some of the most recent in a series of scandals unfolding the ways criminals exploit weak and insecure links in Europe’s banking system to launder large amounts of cash. A Latvian bank, ABLV, was also wound up by regulators this year after accusations of “institutionalized money laundering” by US authorities. These accusations even included helping finance North Korea’s nuclear program. 

European Central Bank directly supervises most of the EU’s largest banks but keeping tabs on AML regulations is not covered by that system. Instead, the obligation for ensuring that banks carry out proper customer background checks and other AML regulations as required by EU law still lies largely with national watchdogs. The recent scandals have made the enforcement of these regulations a top priority.

Global Economies are joining forces with FATF against money laundering

Global Economies are joining forces with FATF against money laundering

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has been very keen on eliminating financial crime (money laundering, terrorist financing) at a global level. The regulatory authority recommended some major changes in  AML (Anti Money Laundering) practices and screened the AML practices of some of its members (direct or indirect) and also, added new countries in its member’s list. 

FATF is one of the most influential global financial regulators. It has 39 complete members and several members under its affiliates (APG, CFATF, EAG, etc.) around the globe working on a thorough implementation of AML regulations. FATF is always keen on eliminating money laundering from all the countries and territories. Numerous industries including financial and non-financial sectors are added to the scope of reporting entities of FATF recommendations. 

In a wake to ensure global compliance, FATF is always in search of loopholes in AML and CFT (Counter Financial terrorism)  regulations and compliance practices of the member countries. Regular screening of AML practices of its member countries is a part of its operations. 

In 2019 as well, FATF took some vital steps to expanded the scope of its regulations to a global level and to cover the gaps between global AML regulations

Saudi Arabia Became the First Arab Member of FATF

 

FATF expands the scope of its regulations to a global level by adding new members. Becoming a member of FATF requires the country to fully comply with FATF recommendations making it almost impossible for criminals to exploit it. 

Saudi Arabia is setting standards for the Arab and Middle eastern countries by becoming a member of FATF. the country was practicing the global AML and CFT regulations for the last four years. Also, in March 2019, it was about to be blacklisted by FATF, but missed it closely and now becomes full member of FATF.  

Financial institutions and businesses offering any types of financial services will be liable to comply with global AML regulations. This means the latest AML recommendations of FATF regarding cryptocurrencies and the legal sector will also be imposed on the reporting entities in Saudi Arabia. This initiative of Saudi Arabia will bring more business into the country as it is identified as a safe country by fully complying with the 40 recommendations of FATF. Meanwhile, the businesses in the country will be under the strict scrutiny of the regulatory authorities. 

It is high time that businesses in Saudi Arabia should identify the crucial need to practice complete AML compliance.

Pakistan in the Greylist 

 

FATF keeps an eye on its member countries by screening their efforts to eliminate money laundering and terrorist financing. Pakistan is a member of the Asia Pacific Group on Money Laundering (APG) and was under the scrutiny of FATF since 2018. The reason behind this scrutiny is the terrorist attacks in India. It was claimed by the Indian authorities that the terrorist activity was executed by a terrorist group in Pakistan. Also, the Panama Papers placed a question mark on the AML and CFT practices of Pakistan. The regulatory authorities in Pakistan are required to take proactive measures recommended by FATF to be removed from the grey list. 

In 2019, FATF made an analysis of the AML practices of regulatory institutions in Pakistan.  The decision has to come regarding, whether Pakistan will be added to the blacklist or not. 

It shows that FATF does not ignore any kind of non-compliance by its member states. In order to maintain the good image of their country, the member states are always in a wake to adopt stringent practices to enforce AML compliance in the business sector (financial and non-financial). Because becoming a member of FATF of just the first step, the countries have to go through regular screening of FATF and need to maintain a crime-free financial infrastructure in the country. 

So, the businesses in full member countries and indirect-member countries are in dire need of practicing complete AML compliance. As non-compliance will lead to dangerous consequences like huge fines and loss of credit rating, loss of credibility, etc. 

Changes in FATF Regulations

 

FATF gives recommendations whenever it finds a loophole in global AML and CFT regulations. In 2019, the authority gave some major recommendations to its member countries. 

FATF recommended AML compliance for the cryptocurrency and legal sector in 2019. The legal sector is required to screen the Ultimate Beneficiary Owners (UBOs) of the entities they represent. 

Also, the cryptocurrency businesses are required to practice AML and KYC compliance just like the financial sector. 

The reason behind these new recommendations is the increase in fraud in these sectors. Cryptocurrency is widely exploited by financial criminals at a global level. According to a report, $1.1 billion of cryptocurrency was stolen in 2018. On the other hand, the legal sector is also exploited by money launderers to incorporate their black money into the business proceeds of shell companies. That is why the legal professionals are required to verify the identity of UBOs of business entities they are serving.

FATF also recommends the art dealers and precious metal dealers to practice KYC screening on their customers and to report transactions above the predetermined threshold. 

Why Do Businesses need to Practice AML Compliance?

 

 

The businesses in the financial and non-financial sectors are covered in the scope of AML recommendations of FATF. Operating in countries that are full or indirect members of FATF, the businesses are obliged to practice thorough compliance with global AML regulations. Harmful consequences follow the non-compliance practices of businesses. 

Non-compliance could result in fines, loss of credibility, credit rating and market value, and in some cases complete shutdown of the non-compliant entity. For instance, take the case of the Danske Bank’s Estonia branch which was closed due to a huge money-laundering scandal. Also, the bank faced several lawsuits and huge penalty. 

The recent efforts of FATF show that the entity will leave no rock unturned to eliminate money laundering at a global level. So, it means that businesses have no other option but to take proactive measures against financial crime. Running real-time KYC and AML screening on the customers before onboarding them eliminates the risk at the very beginning. It enhances the credibility and credit rating of a company along with proactive fraud prevention. Such steps will help businesses in gaining a competitive edge. Hence, such proactive measures create a win-win situation for businesses.

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