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2018: A year in the fight against financial crime

Che Sidanius
Che Sidanius
Global Head of Financial Crime & Industry Affairs

On the eve of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF’s) 30 year anniversary as a leader in global action against terrorist financing, and in the wake of increased regulatory emphasis on improved Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards and collaborative enforcement – as highlighted by the 5th EU Money Laundering Directive, we take a look at 2018, a year dedicated to raising awareness and enabling our clients to #FightFinancialCrime better.


  1. The World Economic Forum, Europol and Refintiv jointly launched the Global Coalition to #FightFinancialCrime at Davos 2018.
  2. Benefits of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) are helping over-burdened compliance teams meet their regulatory obligations to fight financial crime.
  3. Alongside technology, banks desire for collaboration as they look to build common infrastructure meaning there’s greater confidence in the fight against financial crime.

As part of our fundamental commitment to raising awareness around financial crime, Refinitiv commissioned a global survey with the ultimate goal of revealing the true cost of financial crime.

We analyzed responses from over 2,300 individuals (100 percent senior management/C-suite), across 19 countries, and conducted interviews with leading NGOs to unpack the wider economic, social and humanitarian consequences of financial crime across the world.

Our findings revealed that respondents spent an average of 3.1 percent of annual turnover trying to prevent financial crime during the year preceding the survey, but despite this, nearly half (47 percent) had fallen victim to at least one form of this type of crime over the same period.

Our survey also revealed that a significant 94 percent of respondents are in favor of initiatives to share financial intelligence and information on specific cases and on compliance best practice.

The global coalition to fight financial crime

But before meaningful collaboration can be achieved, there is more work to be done in terms of raising awareness of financial crime at both political and policy level.

To this end, Refinitiv, the World Economic Forum and Europol launched the Global Coalition to #FightFinancial Crime to raise awareness, promote public-private information sharing and to strengthen the current AML regimes.

Read more about the Coalition and its objectives

Whilst these macro initiatives are critical on a global level, how can individual compliance teams win the fight against financial crime?

AI and the public cloud

Our financial crime research served to highlight the practical benefits of machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in helping over-burdened compliance teams meet their regulatory obligations.

Technology has become the key differentiator that sets successful compliance teams apart. Early adopters are reaping significant rewards and any remaining skepticism is waning.

For example, our latest ‘Public Cloud Survey Report’ reveals that the benefits of the public cloud (including agility, elasticity, speed and on-demand availability) are beginning to outweigh security concerns. Of particular interest, the report concludes that companies are specifically looking to the public cloud as ‘a means to deploy latest AI technologies’.

Refinitiv has addressed many key compliance challenges by applying these latest technologies.

Here are three practical applications of AI in 2018:

Technology in action

API provides a lightweight but effective solution, for one-time single name screening, against our industry-leading World-Check Risk Intelligence data to help inform your decision making process. Our API screens without creating neither a permanent external record of the screening results nor unnecessary processing of personal information.

Read more about how Zero Footprint Screening can help you

Help with big data

Technology is also a key enabler when analyzing volumes of content, as so often required in the age of big data. Practical applications include:

  • The power of machine learning can be harnessed to identify entities and their relevance to content themes. This reduces false positives and enhances content results.
  • Intelligent tagging has the ability to enable document-level classification and structure content. Millions of text documents can be processed and people, places, facts and events can be tagged with scores to indicate relative importance.
  • New capabilities can eliminate article duplication, allowing users to focus on unique events rather than trawling through different versions of the same story.
  • Content can be grouped into events using text analytics. The functionality identifies and clusters similar articles related to an event/theme and the related entity name.

Read about how Media-Check can help you

Seamless screening

Best-practice advocates rigorous client screening, but this is often regarded as inefficient and time-consuming — a necessary bureaucratic layer that delays onboarding, increases time to revenue, and simultaneously harms the customer experience.

The right technology can help companies to quickly and efficiently onboard new customers and meet AML obligations. For example, World-Check Risk Intelligence can now be accessed on the Salesforce AppExchange with the World-Check Customer Risk Screener. This application improves customer workflows and reduces the costs and complexities of client screening.

Read more about Customer Risk Screener

A step back before looking forward

As 2018 draws to a close, it is worth remembering some key developments since the 2008 financial crisis.

Over the last decade we have witnessed an exponential rise in the value and overall number of digital currencies in use. The rapid growth in the popularity of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has inadvertently created new opportunities for financial criminals.

These currencies offer anonymity and have pioneered the use of a decentralized ecosystem for making financial payments, two factors that can be used to conceal illicit funds to further financial crime.

Read our Expert Talk on cryptocurrencies

This same decade has also seen the fintech sector flourish, helping to modernize the financial industry, improve operational efficiencies and enhance the customer experience.

Alongside the emergence of enabling technology, we have also witnessed a growing desire for collaboration between banks as they look to build common infrastructure to improve the market for all stakeholders.

Register for our webinar

These two key trends have set the scene to give governments, regulators and individual companies greater confidence to tackle financial crime than ever before.

Looking ahead, growing international awareness of the true cost and impact of financial crime, coupled with more widespread take-up of enabling technology will further boost our collaborative efforts to fight the global scourge that impacts countries, companies, communities and individuals.  Financial crime affects us all.

Access our True Cost of Financial Crime report