What is an Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Policy?

Money laundering poses a constant threat to financial institutions. Indeed, the risk of falling into business with criminal elements, drug smugglers, corrupt government officials, and terrorist organizations is ever-present.

In order to combat financial crime, Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Combating Financial Terrorism (CFT) regulations and laws have been formulated and implemented on multiple levels, from local to international levels.

In order to translate complex AML and KYC regulations and implement them in their day-to-day dealings, companies need to understand these intricate rules and build their AML Policy.

What is an AML Policy?

An anti-money laundering policy refers to a series of measures used by financial institutions to stop “dirty” money, which is obtained through illicit activities, from being reintroduced into the mainstream financial system. The drafting and implementation of such a policy is mandatory for all financial institutions and is overseen by regulatory authorities.

Who Regulates AML Laws?

Most often, the AML policy drafted by a business is a mixture of the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and regional/national AML laws. The geographical location of a business determines the regulatory authority that is directly responsible for monitoring transactions and dealings. For example, MAS in Singapore, SEC in USA, and so forth.

Anti-Money Laundering Policy – A Template

Being a company that is driven by the motivation to solve aml problems and provide anti-money laundering solutions, we at Tookitaki are well-versed with what it takes to create an effective AML policy. Therefore, we have outlined the key steps you need to take in order to draft an AML policy for your company/brand. The steps mentioned below are with reference to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA), EU 4th Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD4), and FATF recommendations.

Step 1: Define the Purpose of the Policy

Firstly, a business must start off the policy drafting process by introducing three key statements:

  1. Definition for money laundering and terrorist financing
  2. Reasons why the policy is necessary
  3. Regular regulatory review requirements to stay within compliance demands

These are the three foundational pillars on which a company builds its AML policy.

Step 2: Appoint an AML Officer

At this point, a business needs to hire a compliance officer. This is a post for a company member responsible for everything concerning the business’s AML program. State their name, qualifications, and responsibilities. They must be well versed with financial law, AML policies, AML technologies, and all other relevant information.

Step 3: Report Progress to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)/Relevant Financial Authority

A company must describe its strategy and how it will be able to comply with financial intelligence units and law enforcement requests for information on criminal activity. A company must describe its actions and procedures that will be initiated upon such a demand from the authorities, and how it shall document the situation.

Step 4: Follow Data Security Measures/Share with Authorities

All financial institutions must take an active part in the process of sharing the accumulated AML data with other financial entities to identify and prevent money laundering elsewhere. The policy must describe a completely secure and confidential process that will not allow for data leaks.

Step 5: Follow Thorough Screening Procedures

As you may be aware, “Know Your Customer” (KYC) processes play an integral role in maintaining AML compliance and preventing financial crime. But, even before going into detail, implementing a thorough screening process for all potential clients before beginning any sort of business relationship or opening an account is a must. One should cross-check if a potential client is on any financial blacklist or sanction before continuing to conduct business. An example of this is the US Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN).

A company must also have a well-defined process in place to do this. This should be drafted, written, and given to each potential client. It must also be subject to constant updates based on changing regulatory requirements.

Step 6: Verify your Client’s Identity

This is where the KYC process kicks in. Once the first level of screening is complete, verifying the identity of your client is the central part of AML compliance. Each company must specify a list of comprehensive, measurable, and reliable factors that will help accurately verify the identities of their clients when they open accounts or register with your service.

An identity check is the central part of an AML compliance policy. Here, a company must specify a list of comprehensive and reliable measures that will help them accurately verify the identities of their clients upon opening an account or registering in their service. There are eight major points to correctly establish this part of a business AML policy:

  1. What personal data is gathered
  2. If a client submits false data or no data at all
  3. Information verification process
  4. Time limit for checklist and wait list items
  5. If a client cannot be verified
  6. Methods of recording the AML process
  7. Client notification process
  8. Whether identity verification is outsourced or in-house

Step 7: Perform Customer Due Diligence (CDD)

This step is about the measures taken as a part of CDD for those identified as follows: beneficial owners, senior management, politically exposed persons (PEP), and so forth. A company should also specify the basis of its risk rating system: how it determines whether the case requires simplified due diligence, customer due diligence, or enhanced due diligence. Here, it would be necessary to add when a customer triggers adverse media or sanctions list checks, be subject to ongoing monitoring.

Step 8: Fill Out Suspicious Activity Reports

Lastly, a very important part of an AML policy is to promptly respond to the detection of suspicious activity and correctly form a compliant declaration – a Suspicious Activity Report (SAR). A company must specify the necessary information that needs to be mentioned in the report alongside the deadlines. As an example, BSA gives thirty days to file a report before issuing a fine.

 

References:

https://sumsub.com/knowledgebase/aml-policies/

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