Money laundering and prevention of risky financial activities has proven to be a challenge to tackle for regulated companies. With technological advancements, come more intuitive ways for criminals to find their way around manipulating systems, and pursue fraudulent activities through said regulated companies, which can potentially cost these companies millions in legal fees.
On April the 13th, ComplyRadar collaborated with Analysis International and Tasika to host the AML Connecting the Dots webinar, aiming to (as the name implies) connect the dots and keep companies in check to avoid possible loopholes for criminals to initiate financial crime.
With over 120 people attending, including MLROs, Compliance Officers, CEOs, Fraud Analysts, and Heads of AML and Financial Crime from all over Europe, the event was needless to say a big hit.
Mr. Grahame White, Director and Head of Business Development for Analysis International, and former Detective at New Scotland Yard contributed to the event by highlighting the need for a more robust approach to financial crime (from a European perspective) – especially with the accelerated risk in fraud since the Covid-19 pandemic took the world by storm. Mr. White continues to point out that:
- $218 billion per year is laundered through the EU and UK.
- Top initiatives across Europe such as TMNL in the Netherlands, brings together five top banks to counter sophisticated money laundering.
- The scandals have become so big and frequent in Europe recently that the idea of a single supervisor for anti-money laundering has gained momentum.
- There has been a massive increase in synthetic drug production and distribution across EU with the purity of cocaine in the EU commanding a premium price.
- At an EU level, AML supervisory bodies will have direct supervisory powers over financial institutions thus aiming to avoid gaps in supervision.
- There is a support mechanism for FIUs of member states to work closely on identifying suspicious transactions.
- Sharing of intelligence is very important, however it is the ability to provide the regulated sector with better typologies and methods that will allow the implementation of more effective scenarios in software as well as create a greater level of confidence within the reporting and investigation function at institutions, promoting a safer community.
- The need for better co-operation between the public and private sector is crucial in order to deter, detect and disrupt financial crime.
"There are currently 5,000 organised crime networks operating across Europe & UK including 180 nationalities" - Grahame White
One of the co-founders of Tasika, Mr. Lee Melia has a keen interest in using technology to improve organisations as well as disrupt financial fraud. Being labelled as one of the leaders in both organisational and process transformation, Mr. Melia shared some of his insights with regards to utilising automation to detect criminal behaviour:
- Nowadays, business transformation is more driven towards designing processes for a combination of people and tech, where the tech can do some of the repetitive activities previously done manually by people – freeing up more time for higher quality work.
- Automation provides room for further investigation of anomalous transactions through the ability to connect various internal and external data sources in order to collate the data needed for humans to interpret at a much faster rate.
- Faster data collection in real-time leads to earlier identification of actual fraudulent transactions.
- Other areas of compliance which are good use cases for automation include KYC (new and ongoing), credit referencing and affordability checking.
"Process automation is no longer just Robotic Process Automation but rather it is about connecting different capabilities in a way that will make an end-to-end process as optimal as possible." - Lee Melia
CTO and COO of Computime Software and lecturer at the University of Malta Dr. Vincent Vella, has an extensive knowledge when it comes to Computational Finance and anything AI related. His contribution at The Connecting the Dots webinar underlined some very interesting points:
- We have witnessed many great advancements in the world of Artificial Intelligence, primarily due to the increase in hardware processing power which is becoming more affordable.
- The application of AI is widespread, and adoption is budding throughout, from medical, to sport, to communication, and also to support business processes like Anti Money Laundering and other forms of financial crime.
- AI is an extension of RPA (Robotic Process Automation) where AML is concerned, and this can be witnessed through client onboarding, verification of documents, verification of profiles, initial risk assessment as well as transaction monitoring whereby rule-based systems allow for detection of anomalies, reduction of false positives and prioritisation of work, based on risk score.
- An array of challenges arise when applying AI to AML, partly due to the fact that data in itself is challenging by nature. It is only useful if structured and filtered in the right way. Explainability (or Explainable AI), where results from algorithms can be understood by humans is key in the implementation of such intelligent systems.
- Advancements are sometimes restricted because of regulations such as GDPR, privacy and ethical issues. This makes the process of filtering and choosing data to be utilised a more challenging task.
- Encryption mechanisms to protect privacy will continue being developed and there is room for advanced explainability. There is also an extended usage of AI for the internal auditing of existing systems.
- Federated Learning is an approach that can permit organisations to share AI models without the need to share data.
Mr. Osvaldo Sosa, Compliance Solution Consultant at ComplyRadar, Computime Software, has around 12 years of experience in the Gaming industry under his belt, with a passion about everything AML. Having experience as an MLRO, he understands very well the ever-increasing challenges faced in AML and fraud compliance.
- At times, technology solutions have alerted too many false positives resulting in up to 80% of time wasted. In addition, overly complicate technological solutions which are typically built to regulators’ specifications, do not address sufficiently to the operational aspect of the process, and thus might not cater to the needs of some regulated organisations.
- There is also the fact that many organisations see AML/TF processes as detrimental to business development and therefore there needs to be a shift in mentality for the greater good.
The outcome of the webinar was an overall success and boasted heaps of knowledge being shared straight from the mouths of the industry’s leading professionals in AML and Financial Crime. It is events like these that connect different organisations together to fight the ever-growing problems related to financial crime.