Better AML solutions needed amid warnings of possible impacts of Afghanistan exit on financial crime

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Regulators are warning the UK’s property, finance and legal sectors to be aware of the possible impacts of the exit from Afghanistan on ‘patterns of financial activity’.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has told regulated firms that it expects them to establish and maintain systems and controls to counter the heightened risk that they may be used to ‘further financial crime’.

Organised crime gangs and fraudsters are now thought to be responsible for up to $2 trillion a year in money laundering - and this figure is expected to rise significantly as a result of the recent developments in Afghanistan - much of which is being enabled because firms are failing to run proper ID checks and document verification.

In response, UK anti-money laundering specialist SmartSearch has launched SmartDoc - the most advanced document verification system on the market. SmartDoc uses a combination of cutting-edge facial ID technology and a level of expert analysis at the same level as border security officials to provide a highly accurate and robust customer due diligence check for regulated firms across the UK.

SmartDoc combines machine learning interrogation and an OCR algorithmic check of the ID document to verify if it is genuine and unaltered.

The solution has been developed in part in response to feedback from clients and in part as a result of SmartSearch’s continuing innovation to create market leading solutions.

SmartSearch CEO John Dobson says SmartDoc along with SmartSearch’s existing suite of AML solutions can help estate agents prevent fraud, even in a remote environment removing the need for face-to-face interaction - but can also ensure they meet their AML requirements.

He said: “The UK property sector is one of the most high risk in terms of money laundering and other financial crime, due to the high levels of ownership by overseas individuals and companies and low levels of transparency around ownership structures. It is therefore imperative that estate agents have robust systems in place to ensure they are not being used by money launderers to clean their dirty cash.

“The new SmartDoc solution will ensure estate agents can securely authenticate customer identities, preventing fraud and allowing them to remain compliant with AML legislation - a vital part of the process as non compliance can result in hefty fines and even prison.

“SmartDoc not only confirms whether a document is genuine and unaltered, but also that it belongs to the person presenting it, providing an additional layer of security to identity checks.”

SmartSearch also automatically screens against politically exposed persons (PEP) and sanctions lists and delivers the result in seconds. Each check is recorded on the system and monitored on an ongoing basis, alerting clients to any changes they need to be aware of.

“The threat of money laundering has never been greater, and estate agents need to be confident that they are doing all they can to prevent it. SmartSearch can offer that assurance, enabling estate agents to rest assured that they have a robust system in place that is both preventing financial crime and ensuring they meet all their legal and regulatory obligations.”

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