know your customer (KYC)

Guide to Preforming AML Checks

Anti-Money Laundering (AML) refers to a set of laws, regulations, and procedures designed to prevent criminals from disguising illegally obtained funds.

What are AML Checks?

AML checks, also known as Anti-Money Laundering checks, are the processes and procedures implemented by businesses and financial institutions to identify and mitigate the risk of money laundering and other illicit financial activities. AML checks involve the verification of customer identities, the assessment of transactional activities, and the screening of individuals and entities against various watchlists and databases.

Here are some common types of AML checks:

  1. Customer Due Diligence CDD involves the collection and verification of customer information, such as identity, address, and source of funds, to establish the customer's risk profile. This process helps identify and verify the identity of customers and assess their potential risk for money laundering or other financial crimes.

  2. Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD): EDD is a higher level of due diligence conducted on customers who pose a higher risk based on factors such as their occupation, nationality, or involvement in politically exposed positions. EDD involves gathering additional information and conducting more extensive checks to better understand the customer's background and potential risk.

  3. Transaction Monitoring: Transaction monitoring involves the ongoing review and analysis of customer transactions to detect any suspicious or unusual activities that may indicate money laundering or other financial crimes. It typically involves the use of automated systems and algorithms to identify patterns, anomalies, or red flags in transactional behaviour.

  4. Sanctions and Watchlist Screening: Businesses conduct PEPs and sanctions screening to identify if customers, counterparties, or transactions are associated with individuals, entities, or countries subject to economic sanctions or known for illicit activities. Screening against government and industry watchlists helps prevent engaging in business with sanctioned individuals or entities.

  5. Source of Funds Verification: Verification of the source of funds is an essential AML check to ensure that the funds being used in transactions have legitimate origins and are not derived from illegal activities. This involves assessing the customer's financial activities, transaction history, and supporting documentation to verify the legitimate sources of their funds.

  6. Regulatory Reporting: AML checks also involve the reporting of suspicious transactions or activities to the appropriate regulatory authorities. Financial institutions and businesses have an obligation to report any transactions that raise suspicions of money laundering or illicit activities as per the regulatory requirements of their jurisdiction.

By conducting AML checks, businesses and financial institutions can identify and mitigate the risk of money laundering, terrorist financing, fraud, and other illicit activities. These checks help ensure compliance with AML laws and regulations, protect the integrity of the financial system, and contribute to the overall fight against financial crimes.


How do AML Checks Help in Verifying Identities?

AML checks play a crucial role in verifying identities as part of the overall Know Your Customer (KYC) process. Here's how AML checks help in verifying identities:

  1. Document Verification: AML checks involve the verification of identity documents provided by customers, such as passports, driver's licenses, or national identification cards. The documents are carefully reviewed to ensure their authenticity and validity. AML solutions often employ advanced technologies like optical character recognition (OCR) and document validation algorithms to verify the integrity of the documents and detect any signs of tampering or forgery.

  2. Data Comparison and Validation: During AML checks, customer-provided information is compared and validated against reliable data sources, such as government databases or credit bureaus, to ensure consistency and accuracy. This helps confirm the authenticity of the information provided and assists in verifying the identity of the individual, this can include address verification and 2+2 checks.

  3. Biometric Verification: Some AML checks may incorporate biometric verification methods, such as fingerprint or facial recognition, to further enhance the accuracy and security of identity verification. Biometric data can be compared against existing records or databases to confirm the identity of the individual.

  4. Watchlist Screening: A crucial aspect of AML checks is screening individuals and entities against various watchlists, including sanctions lists and politically exposed persons (PEP) lists. By comparing customer data against these watchlists, businesses can identify if a customer is associated with any known illicit activities or has been designated by regulatory authorities. This helps in verifying the identity and assessing the potential risk associated with the customer.

  5. Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD): In cases where a customer poses a higher risk, enhanced due diligence measures are applied. This may involve additional verification steps, such as requesting further documentation or conducting more extensive background checks. These measures help in strengthening the verification of the customer's identity and gathering more comprehensive information to establish their risk profile.

By incorporating these AML checks into the verification process, businesses can enhance the accuracy and reliability of identity verification. These checks help confirm the authenticity of customer-provided information, detect fraudulent identities or false documentation, and reduce the risk of engaging with individuals involved in illicit activities. Ultimately, AML checks contribute to building trust, complying with regulations, and mitigating the risk of financial crimes.

You can find out more about digital ID verification in our article – What are Digital ID Checks?


How do Businesses Perform AML Checks?

Businesses perform AML (Anti-Money Laundering) checks through a systematic process that involves various steps and procedures. Here's a general outline of how businesses typically perform AML checks:

  1. Customer Identification and Due Diligence: Businesses begin by collecting customer information as part of the Know Your Customer (KYC) process. This includes gathering identity details, contact information, and relevant supporting documents such as identification cards, passports, or utility bills. The customer's identity is verified through document checks, data validation, and sometimes biometric verification.

  2. Risk Assessment: Businesses assess the risk associated with each customer based on factors like their occupation, country of residence, transaction patterns, and involvement in politically exposed positions. This risk assessment helps determine the level of due diligence required for the customer, whether it's standard due diligence or enhanced due diligence.

  3. Screening Against Watchlists: Customers and their associated entities are screened against various watchlists, such as government sanctions lists, PEP (Politically Exposed Person) lists, adverse media, and other relevant databases. This screening helps identify if the customer has any connections to individuals or entities involved in illicit activities or is subject to sanctions.

  4. Transaction Monitoring: Ongoing monitoring of customer transactions is performed to detect any suspicious or unusual activities. This involves reviewing transactional patterns, amounts, frequency, and other relevant factors. Automated systems and algorithms are often employed to identify suspicious behaviour, anomalies, or patterns that may indicate potential money laundering or other financial crimes.

  5. Reporting Suspicious Activity: If any suspicious transactions or activities are identified during the AML checks, businesses have an obligation to report them to the appropriate regulatory authorities. These reports help initiate further investigations and aid in the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes.

  6. Compliance Documentation and Record-Keeping: Throughout the AML process, businesses maintain comprehensive records of the steps taken, the information obtained, and any actions or decisions made. This documentation serves as evidence of compliance and helps demonstrate adherence to regulatory requirements in case of audits or inquiries.

  7. Ongoing Monitoring and Review: AML checks are not a one-time activity. Businesses must establish procedures for ongoing monitoring and periodic review of customer profiles and transactions. This ensures that any changes in customer behaviour or risk profile are identified and addressed promptly.

It's important to note that the specific AML checks and procedures may vary depending on the nature of the business, regulatory requirements, and the level of risk associated with customers and transactions. Businesses often utilise AML software and technology solutions to automate and streamline AML checks, making the process more efficient and effective.


What Should Businesses Look for in an AML Checking Service Provider?

When selecting an AML checking service provider, businesses should consider several factors to ensure they choose a reliable and effective solution. Here are some key aspects to look for:

  1. Compliance Expertise: The service provider should have in-depth knowledge and understanding of AML regulations and compliance requirements in your industry and jurisdiction. They should stay up to date with regulatory changes and demonstrate a strong commitment to compliance.

  2. Comprehensive AML Solutions: Evaluate the range of AML solutions offered by the provider. Look for services that cover customer due diligence, transaction monitoring, watchlist screening, and layered functionality within their eIDV service. The solutions should align with your specific business needs and provide adequate coverage for your risk profile.

  3. Accuracy and Reliability: Verify the accuracy and reliability of the provider's AML solutions. Consider their track record, reputation, and customer reviews. Accuracy is crucial in AML checks to minimise false positives or false negatives that can impact business operations or compliance efforts.

  4. Data Sources and Technology: Assess the quality and reliability of the data sources and technology used by the service provider. They should have access to comprehensive and up-to-date databases for watchlist screening and other verification purposes. The provider should also utilise advanced technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of AML checks.

  5. Flexibility and Scalability: Consider the provider's ability to adapt to your business needs and accommodate growth. The AML solution should be flexible enough to integrate with your existing systems and workflows. It should also scale with your business, allowing you to handle increasing transaction volumes and evolving regulatory requirements.

  6. User-Friendly Interface: A user-friendly interface is crucial for smooth and efficient AML checks. The provider should offer intuitive software or platforms that are easy to navigate and use. The user interface should provide clear instructions, facilitate data entry and retrieval, and minimise manual effort.

  7. Customer Support and Training: Evaluate the level of customer support and training provided by the service provider. They should offer responsive customer support channels to address any issues or inquiries promptly. Additionally, training materials and resources should be available to ensure your team can effectively use the AML checking services.

  8. Integration Capabilities: Determine if the provider's AML solutions can integrate seamlessly with your existing systems, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, compliance platforms, or transaction monitoring systems. Integration simplifies data sharing, reduces manual effort, and enhances the overall efficiency of your AML processes.

  9. Cost-Effectiveness: Consider the pricing structure and cost-effectiveness of the AML checking service. Compare the costs with the value delivered by the provider's solutions. It's important to find a balance between cost and the quality of service provided.

  10. Reputation and References: Research the provider's reputation in the industry and seek references from other businesses that have used their AML checking services. Look for providers with a strong track record, established partnerships, and positive reviews that demonstrate their reliability and effectiveness.

    By considering these factors, businesses can select an AML checking service provider that meets their specific needs, regulatory requirements, and budget. The right provider will help enhance compliance, mitigate the risk of financial crimes, and contribute to the overall integrity of the business.

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