Firms ‘not confident’ about security of manual AML checks: SmartSearch

The anti-money-laundering software firm reports more than half of companies in the finance and banking, property and legal sectors say that onboarding new customers took between two days to a week, in a poll of 500 decision makers at these businesses.

It adds that just 33% say they felt “confident about being able to identify a fake document such as a passport, driving licence or utility bill”.

The software firm says the findings come as “forged documents are becoming increasingly sophisticated and harder to identify.

“The Home Office’s own guidance on checking for forgeries of official documentation lists 24 potential failure points, many of which require expert knowledge to identify.”

SmartSearch managing director Martin Cheek, adds: “These figures underline the inefficiency and unreliability of using manual processes to verify new customers.

“They also show that while regulated firms persist with these time-consuming, flawed processes, ‘dirty money’ will continue to be washed through the UK economy.

“Electronic verification combines credit reference data with other reliable sources and is almost impossible to fake.

“The 2020 Money Laundering and Terrorist Finance act even recommends that regulated firms use electronic verification as part of their due diligence to make it as effective as possible.

“Using electronic verification doesn’t just minimise the risk of breaching anti-money-laundering rules, it also makes the firms’ own customer journeys more efficient, helping those who use it to stand out from their competitors.”

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