Money laundering, terrorism financing, and financial crime are growing problems – the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime believes that between 2% and 5% of global GDP is laundered every year (that’s between €715 billion and €1.87 trillion).
Preventing such illicit financial activity was the focus of the recent UK Finance Economic Crime Congress, which took place in the heart of London’s financial district in February. Delegates from banks, fintechs, and government bodies convened to discuss strategies for combatting economic crime, including sanctions compliance, anti-money laundering and fraud prevention.
A key message from the event was that banks and businesses must ensure the financial crime compliance initiatives they put in place are as effective as possible.
Anti-money laundering (AML) regulatory requirements have increased in recent years to meet growing financial crime risks; but with increasing obligations, there is a danger that organisations could approach the regulations purely from a compliance perspective – doing what the regulators require them to do in order to be compliant. Ticking a box.
However, it is important to consider what is really meant by ‘effective’; that is, to be “successful in producing a desired or intended result”. In financial crime screening, is the desired result ‘compliance’ or is it to detect and prevent financial crime to minimise social harm?
The end goal of financial crime screening is of course to minimise social harm. Compliance requirements exist to ensure the minimum standards are met in meeting this objective, but true effectiveness means going above and beyond the regulatory requirements.
We should ask ourselves: ‘Is my screening as good as it can be? Am I optimising all technology available to me? Are we doing everything we can to combat the growing threat of money laundering, terrorism financing and economic crime?
By thinking about what we can do, over and above what we should, it’s a fight we can win together.