The sharpest tool in the AML box

I don’t know about you, but I spend a good proportion of my working day online (and that’s before I indulge in my after-hours vintage clothes buying habit).   I find t’Interweb invaluable for checking details of people, companies and places, reading news, downloading the latest legislation, converting currencies and much more.  And yet I am fairly frequently told by firms that they do not allow their staff access to the Internet.

I appreciate that these firms do not want their workers spending hours browsing social networking sites (which used to be known as pubs but have now gone virtual) or – worse – publishing sensitive work-related information on them.   (E.g. “Tedious day at work at ABC Bank today – had to escort the payroll on its usual route through town as the security man is off sick – we’ll be doing it again tomorrow, same time, same place – they don’t even give us a gun – big yawn!”)  But mitigating this risk by denying all Internet access is like ensuring that no-one wastes work time reading the newspaper by employing only illiterate people.

I would go so far as to say that nowadays the Internet is an essential tool in the regulated sector.   How can an account manager verify that his new prospect in the dairy industry really is a big cheese if he can’t check him out online?  How can he judge whether Indonesia is still a corruption risk if he can’t search for recent headlines?   Surely the answer to any lingering concerns about misuse of the Internet is training and awareness rather than prohibition.  After all, look what the original Prohibition did for organised crime.

This entry was posted in Due diligence, General thoughts, Training and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The sharpest tool in the AML box

  1. Luciano says:

    I think you will find that most employees have access to the internet. What there is in place are blockers or warnings that pop up on accessing certain social networking or inappropriate (e.g. gambling) websites. Internet usage is also monitored and reviewed. Research on people and entities is usually by specialists such as the CDD department / staff are also trained.

  2. Many thanks for your response, but, to be perfectly honest, I have not found this to be the case. I agree that compliance staff are generally given Internet access, but straw polls that I conduct during general training suggests that many staff are allowed access to their Intranet only. Personally, I am not in favour of research being the preserve of the CDD department: I prefer it when account managers are made responsible for checking the business they are introducing (with of course double-checking and safeguards in place). For this, they need access to the Internet. And I may be going too far here, but I think being able to check people on Facebook and the like is jolly useful!

  3. Claire says:

    I agree with you Susan, on checking up on people. Against my will, I still show up as secretary in Panama companies. My ex claims these companies have been dead since 15 years, but will remain active till 2015! Only then will they disappear. I still show up in Luxemburg companies where I resigned as secretary in 1998. This is not who I am. I was a young, naive, trusting wife. So I’m quite upset about this. But I took over or was on the same board of directors of some serious crooks, disbarred UK lawyers and the likes.
    I think that going through Facebook friends or LinkedIn contacts, you can certainly find shady connections. Search engines are a great tool!

    • Many thanks for your response, Claire. I am sure readers will find it interesting to see how criminals (such as your ex-husband) will use family and probably friends to help launder the money. And to know that you found out his continuing unauthorised use of your name through search engines is fascinating.

  4. Pingback: Can I borrow your name? | Eternal Traveler – Design your life!

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