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Tackling Hidden Risks in AML Sanctions Screening Programs


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Over the past decade, a number of institutions have been fined for failing to screen all client records or screening them in a timely manner. Properly configured screening applications and efficient data flows can be more critical to an effective AML implementation than the AML policies themselves. With changes in organizational structure, AML policies, and M&A activities, understanding these systems can be difficult and complex.

In this presentation we reveal how to avoid some of the common pitfalls in the configuration of screening programs, including software configurations, risk scoring attributes and weights,and both client and reference data flows.

About Alessa, a CaseWare RCM product:
Alessa is a financial crime detection, prevention and management solution offered by CaseWare RCM Inc. With deployments in more than 20 countries in banking, insurance, FinTech, gaming, manufacturing, retail and more, Alessa is the only platform organizations need to identify high-risk activities and stay ahead of compliance. To learn more about how Alessa can help your organization ensure compliance, detect complex fraud schemes, and prevent waste, abuse and misuse, visit us at

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Tackling Hidden Risks in AML Sanctions Screening Programs

  1. 1. Tackling Hidden Risks in AML Screening Programs
  2. 2. Agenda 2 1. Screening Audit Overview 2. Compliance Data Flow 3. Post Screening Filtering 4. Name Matching Challenges 5. Q&A
  3. 3. 3 Screening Audit Cycle Personnel Data Flow Screening Configuration Reporting
  4. 4. 4 Data Flow – Risk Reference Data SANCTIONS FINTRAC REG.ENFORCEMENT LAWENFORCEMENT 250+ LISTS 350+ AGENCIES ADVERSEMEDIA PEP LISTS ELECTION REGISTRAR MEDIA SOURCES PUBLIC RECORDS DATA PROFILING & DEDUPLICATION ElectionResults Sanction Additions, Deletions, and Updates Appointments Impeachments, Resignations,andDeaths New Sanction Regimes Narrative Sanctions IDENTIFY STATE OWNED ENTITIES Additions, Deletions, and Updates Predicate Offense Profiles Additions, Deletions, and Updates
  5. 5. 5 Data Flow – Client Data Consumer Banking Small Business Banking Wealth Management Brokerage Correspondent Banking Transaction Data LINEOFBUSINESSCLIENTDATATRANSIENTANDTRANSACTIONDATA Client Data Deduplication Sanctions Regulatory & Law Enforcement Politically Exposed Persons FATF Predicate Offenses (Adverse Media) SANCTIONSQUEUEAMLQUEUE
  6. 6. 6 Data Flow – Date of Birth Configuration ScreeningResults Client Date of Birth +2 yrs +4 yrs +6 yrs +8 yrs +10 yrs -10 yrs -8 yrs -6 yrs -4 yrs -2 yrs PEP Filter Adverse Media Filter LE / RE Filter Sanctions Filter Statistics: PEPs: 90% Reduction in hits Adverse Media: 60% reduction in hits Law Enf./ Regulatory Enf.: 15% reduction in hits Sanctions: 15% reduction in hits
  7. 7. 7 Testing Name Variations ABD AL RAZEQ, Abu Sufian (a.k.a. 'ABD AL-RAZZIQ, Abu Sufian al- Salamabi Muhammed Ahmed; a.k.a. ABDELRAZEK, Abousofian; a.k.a. ABDELRAZIK, Abousfian Salman; a.k.a. ABDELRAZIK, Abousofian; a.k.a. ABDELRAZIK, Abousofiane; a.k.a. ABDELRAZIK, Sofian; a.k.a. "ABOU EL LAYTH"; a.k.a. "ABOULAIL"; a.k.a. "ABU JUIRIAH"; a.k.a. "ABU SUFIAN"; a.k.a. "ABULAIL"; a.k.a. "DJOLAIBA THE SUDANESE"; a.k.a. "JOLAIBA"; a.k.a. "OULD EL SAYEIGH"); DOB 06 Aug 1962; POB Al- Bawgah, Sudan; alt. POB Albaouga, Sudan; nationality Canada; alt. nationality Sudan; Passport BC166787 (Canada) (individual) [SDGT]. Testing Technique Used Given Name Surname Identical Matching Abu Sufian ABD AL RAZEQ Phonetic Similarity Abu Sufiyan ABD AL RAZIK Missing or Additional Spaces and Hyphens Abusufian ABD-AL-RAZEQ Missing Components or Letters Abu Sufa ABDAL RAZE Incorrect Database Fields Abu Sufian ABD AL RAZEQ Spelling Differences Abu Sufien ABD EL RAZEK Titles and Honorific Imam ABD EL RAZEK Out of Order Components Sufien Abu EL RAZEK Multiple Languages ‫الرازق‬ ‫عبد‬ ‫سفيان‬ ‫ابو‬ Nicknames Sofian ABDELRAZIK Nicknames (LQA) Abou EL LAYTH Truncated Components Ab Sufie AB RAZEK Initials A. S. ABD AL RAZEQ Similar Names Abousofian ABDELRAZEK Noise Simulation A3u Sufian AB4 AL RAZEQ
  8. 8. 8 Testing Name Variations Testing Technique Used Given Name Surname Identical Matching Jeniffer Beaney CAMACHO CAZARES Phonetic Similarity Jennifer Beaney CAMACHO CASARES Missing or Additional Spaces and Hyphens Jeniffer Beaney CAMACHO-CAZARES Missing Components or Letters Jenifer CAMACHO CAZARES Incorrect Database Fields Jeniffer Beaney CAMACHO CAZARES Spelling Differences Jenniffer Beany CAMACHO CASAREZ Titles and Honorific Mrs. CAMACHO CAZARES Out of Order Components Jeniffer CAZARES CAMACHO Nicknames Jenny CAZARES Truncated Components Jeniff CAMACHO CAZARES Initials JR CAMACHO CAZARES Similar Names Jenny B CAMACHO CAZARES Noise Simulation J3niff3r 4eaney CAMACH0 CAZARE$ CAMACHO CAZARES, Jeniffer Beaney (a.k.a. CAMACHO CAZARES, Jennifer Beaney; a.k.a. CAMACHO CAZAREZ, Jeniffer Beaney), Sendero De Los Olmos 110, Zapopan, Jalisco 45129, Mexico; 4850 ch de la Cote- Saint-Luc, Montreal, Quebec H3W 2H2, Canada; Calle 12 de Diciembre #480, Colonia Chapalita, Zapopan, Jalisco, Mexico; DOB 01 Feb 1979; POB Ahome, Sinaloa, Mexico; C.U.R.P. CACJ790201MSLMZN03 (Mexico) (individual) [SDNTK] (Linked To: AG & CARLON, S.A. DE C.V.; Linked To: GRUPO DIJEMA, S.A. DE C.V.; Linked To: AGRICOLA BOREAL S.P.R. DE R.L.; Linked To: COMERCIALIZADORA TRADE CLEAR, S.A. DE C.V.).
  9. 9. • While converting names from one script to another poses exceptional challenges, converting names within the same script can often cause challenges due to geographic differences. • With each conversion, there is a risk of increasing false positives. • Examples of the challenge: • José → Jose or Joe or Joseph • Johanna (in Germany) → Joanna or Joann • Alessandro (in Italy) → Alexander or Alex 9 Challenges of Name Conversions – Latin Only
  10. 10. • Standards and schemes exist for converting on character set to another, such as ISO 233-2:1993 for converting Arabic to Latin characters, but this provides a transliteration only, and may not be enough. Different individuals may also choose to differ from these accepted standards when converting their names. • Religious history may change the conversions of names, such as Judah for Yehuda (‫)יהודה‬ or Moses for Moshe (‫.)משה‬ • In some cases, translation may be required as well… 10 Challenges of Name Conversions – Non-Latin
  11. 11. 11 Challenges of Name Conversions – Non-Latin 가을 Korean Ga-eul Transliteration Autumn Translation 나리 Korean Na-ri Transliteration Lily Translation กุหลาบ Thai Kuhlab Transliteration Rose Translation
  12. 12. • There are over 65 common variations of Muhammad globally: 12 Challenges of Name Conversions – Muhammad ‫د‬َّ‫م‬َ‫ح‬ُ‫م‬ Muhammad Muhammed Mohamed Mahomet Mohammad Mohammed Mehmet Mohamad Mamad Mahamadou Mahoma Mamadou Muhammet Maomé মুহম্মদ Maometto Muhamed Maxamed Muhammadu Md Moameth Μωάμεθ Mahometus Mukhammad ‫מוחמד‬ Mem মুহাম্মাদ Memet Muhamad Mend Muhameti M'hamed ‫محمد‬ Mihemed Mahamed Mo Moe Muhd Мохьмад Mokhmad Магоме́д Magomed Муха́ ммад Мұхаммед Муха́ммед Hemed ⲙⲁϩⲙⲏⲧ Mafumet ‫مۇھەممەد‬ মমাহাম্মদ মুহাম্মদ মমাহাম্মাদ মমাহম্মদ ꦩꦺꦴꦏꦺꦠ꧀ 馬 Mǎ ꦺꦠ꧀ Mohd 穆罕默德 Mùhǎnmòdé Momo Ahmed
  13. 13. 13 Last Name Conventions Paternal Last Name Paternal Last Name + Maternal Last Name Maternal Last Name + Paternal Last Name No Surname Paternal FIRST name Father’s First Name + Family Name Last name appears first Paternal FIRST name appears before First name
  14. 14. • Identify all lines-of-business, focusing on new and recently acquired division. • Work with data teams to test latency between account creation and screening • Identify reference data depth and breadth. • Request information on global coverage • Request information on what lists are covered in what region • Ensure reference data includes sectoral and narrative sanctions • Ensure UBO data is being acquired and screened for all entities. • Subscribe to regulatory intelligence updates to ensure compliance with new sanctions and regulations • Work with screening software vendor to evaluate current rule set on matching thresholds, DOB ranges, and other screening parameters • Test screening software for name variations to identify matching holes and scoring parameters 14 Where to start…
  15. 15. • Many compliance teams assume their systems are configured properly. This assumption can be dangerous. • Personnel, Data, Software, and Reporting must all be tested and audited regularly. • Both reference data and client data flows must be analyzed • Screening software should be tested to identify how patterns of dates of birth, names, and other identifiers are screened, how results are represented, and how global name variations are matched • Benchmark false positive rates by geography and line-of-business. Measure these changes over time as your data and software configurations change. 15 Key Takeaways
  16. 16. 16 Alessa: Integrated AML Compliance Solution Customer Due Diligence Transaction Monitoring/ Screening Regulatory Reporting Sanctions Screening AML Capabilities Data Management, Workflows, Case Management, Fraud Detection & Prevention (Advanced Analytics) Traditional FIs FinTechs Gaming and Casinos MSBs Markets Questions? Email us at
  17. 17. Tackling Hidden Risks in AML Screening Programs