Money laundering is an unfortunate reality for banks with the potential to not only put them in hot water with regulators but destroy their reputations as sound, above-board financial institutions. Data and technology are essential to unmask those villainous customers who use their financial firms’ systems for illicit gain. What are the key areas that bank managers must consider when developing strategies to combat this insidious threat to their businesses?
The risks to banks and their executives from non-compliance with anti-money-laundering regulations are increasing dramatically. The United Nations estimates that as much as $2 trillion (5 percent) of global GDP is laundered. Since 2018, the exits of CEOs from Westpac, Swedbank and Danske Bank underscore the consequences. To effectively manage money-laundering risks, bank executives need to have sound answers from their compliance, security and IT professionals to five core questions.
The Great Recession forced big international banks to re-evaluate risks and “de-risk” some overseas operations, guided by an augmented focus on AML and CFT compliance. Unfortunately for Caribbean banks, de-risking for the North American majors translated into trimming ties with them. Changing the perception that they are “risky” has not been easy for Caribbean bankers, but through resolute, concerted effort, the risk profile of the Caribbean banking industry is improving.
Digital currencies are proliferating around the globe, with even the bigtech players such as Facebook jumping in. What about central banks issuing their own central bank digital currencies? Many central banks are weighing the advantages and disadvantages of CBDCs so as to minimize disruption. More recently, six central banks announced that they will work jointly on this issue with support from the BIS, which shows the increasing focus on cross-border implications.
Modern Slavery is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the world, creating an estimated 40 million victims globally. Modern Slavery networks generate significant sums of money, including from work done by the victims. These funds represent the proceeds of crime, with approximately $150 billion in illicit proceeds being generated every year.
It is hard to believe that we just wrapped up another year. The beginning of a new year is one of the best times to both reflect on the previous years successes, while looking ahead at what the biggest challenges, priorities and opportunities will be for companies as they enter the new year.
The European Union has put up a brave front against financial crimes such as money laundering, but the criminals still manage to get away with a way too much ill-gotten gain. Progress is being made with the new AMLD5 framework, but much more needs to be done to achieve resounding success. What are some of the steps the EU should take to finally grab this brazen bull by its horns?
Organisations across the world increasingly expect global access to finance in real-time. They also expect finance to be consistently available in a way that works for them in any country and currency, without the process being held up by the historical constraints of national boundaries.
New sanctions are continually being imposed, making life difficult for banks, which must comply or face stiff penalties. In the past, much of the work toward sanctions compliance involved burdensome manual tasks, but today, technology can lift off much of the load. Since compliance is not an option and pleading ignorance doesn’t work, banks are turning to tools such as intelligent process automation to do the job better and quicker.
The mandate of financial institutions is to process financial transactions for individuals and businesses, but unfortunately, these institutions are sometimes used for illicit purposes, such as money laundering and terrorist financing. Effective, accurate risk assessment is the foundation of a financial firm’s risk management and regulatory compliance, and there are a number of manual and automated methods available to assess risks. Detecting and acting against suspicious activities is a must for banks today.