Survey of Senior Anti-Money Laundering Professionals Reveals Asia and Trade Finance as Key Money Laundering Concerns

    Retail banking is center of most 'suspicious activity'

    Leading compliance officers cite next hot areas of financial crime

    NEW YORK, Oct. 22 /CNW/ -- A survey of top money laundering compliance
officers, conducted by risk and compliance solutions provider Fortent,
identifies Asia as the region that has experienced the greatest increase in
money laundering risk and reveals that trade finance is the next major area of
expected regulatory focus. Retail banking represents the area of most
financial crime activity, according to the findings.
    The survey, which polled senior compliance officers at financial
institutions using Fortent AML compliance technology solutions, identifies key
areas of concern among these executives, who are responsible for overseeing
their institutions' compliance with Bank Secrecy Act/Anti-Money Laundering
(BSA/AML) laws.
    Key findings of the survey, whose results were released today, include:

    -- Asia cited as region leading growth in money laundering risk - Among
       respondents at institutions with global operations, 30% identified Asia
       as the region experiencing the biggest increase in AML risk.

    -- Trade finance and beneficial ownership identified as top areas of
       expected regulatory interest over next 5 years - Asia and the Middle
       East were cited as areas of particular concern for trade finance.

    -- Private banking and electronic "cash" systems seen as increasingly
       "hot" areas to watch over the next 3 years - Smart cards, debit cards,
       and online value transfer systems are making a greater impact on the
       economy - and compliance concerns.

    -- 71% of respondents cite retail banking as the line of business most
       sensitive to money laundering risk - As the largest business line in
       these financial institutions, retail banking still represents the
       greatest percentage of all money laundering compliance risk for an

    -- Nearly two-thirds of respondents expect attempts at criminal activity
       to increase over the next year - The trend was seen as related to the
       economic slowdown: "As the economy weakens, people get more willing to
       bend or break the rules," one respondent remarked. Also cited was an
       expectation of an increase in "mortgage-related suspicious activity."

    -- 65% expect their institutions to commit more resources to monitoring
       and detection over the next two years - Only 15% of respondents
       believed that resources wouldn't be increased, confirming the global
       trend of rising costs, especially in staffing areas.

    -- "Budgetary limitations" is the #1 obstacle to increasing financial
       crime-fighting efforts within institutions - More than half of the
       respondents named budgetary limits as the reason why efforts hadn't
       been increased.
    "The information generated from a diverse group of global financial
institutions clearly demonstrates that there are significant concerns - not
the least of which is that more than 60% of respondents expect criminal
activity to increase," said George Faux, Group Executive, Client Relationship
Management, at Fortent. "This expectation, coupled with their observations
about money laundering's growth in Asia, means that banks need to ensure that
they have effective and efficient anti-money laundering programs in place - in
all regions of their operations and across lines of business."
    Wells Fargo's top BSA officer, who participated in the survey, agreed
with Fortent's findings. "China and Southeast Asia is an area of tremendous
economic expansion and increasing trade to, from, and through the countries in
that region," observed Jim Richards, CAMS, EVP/BSA Officer at the US-based
financial institution. "With the positive benefits of economic expansion and
trade come the negative aspects of increased fraud and money laundering. We
need to be inventive, determined, and proactive if we're going to identify and
investigate suspicious activity tied to finance in these areas."
    Senior executives from twenty-one global, national, and regional
financial institutions participated in the survey, including banks based in
the United States, as well as overseas, with asset size ranging from $25
billion to more than $1 trillion. Survey respondents represented the top
levels of their institutions' compliance programs, with titles including SVP,
Regulatory Risk Management; Senior Manager, AML Business Practices; AML
Program Deputy Director; and Compliance Director.
    For more information about the survey, or to speak with George Faux,
please contact Suzanne Oaks, Rimjhim Dey, or Davia Temin of Temin and Company
at 212-588-8788 or
    About Fortent
    Fortent provides comprehensive information and technology solutions to
the risk and compliance market worldwide. It serves banks, brokers, insurance
companies, government agencies, businesses, and compliance professionals from
more than 100 countries.
    With advanced monitoring and detection systems that have been endorsed by
the American Bankers Association, Fortent delivers the most efficient and
effective anti-money laundering, know your customer, and fraud detection
technologies available on the market today. Fortent's publishing, conference,
and training businesses, including those of Alert Global Media, are the
compliance industry's authoritative resource for news, regulatory guidance,
and professional education and certification.
    Based in New York with eight offices located around the world, Fortent is
a strategic supplier of compliance technology to leading large and mid-sized
financial firms including The Bank of New York, Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Bank
of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, Lloyds TSB, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Scotiabank,
Societe Generale, and UBS.
    CONTACT:  Suzanne Oaks, Rimjhim Dey, or Davia Temin of Temin and Company,
212-588-8788, or, for Fortent.

For further information:

For further information: Suzanne Oaks, Rimjhim Dey, or Davia Temin of 
Temin and Company, +1-212-588-8788, or, for Fortent

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