SMA Financial urges financial institutions that are cutting IT budgets not to compromise AML compliance

• Up to date AML software can protect banks from regulatory and reputational fines

LONDON, 3 February, 2009 – SMA Financial (www.sma.co.uk), SWIFT Regional partner for UK, Eire and Channel Islands today recommended that, despite the current economic uncertainty created by the global credit crunch, financial institutions and corporates still need to remain vigilant over the threat of money laundering. Whilst many banks are considering a cut in spend on technology projects, the benefits to be gained from having adequate anti-money laundering (AML) processes far outweighs the costs involved.

Banks that trade across international, legal and financial jurisdictions need effective AML systems that will enable fast and accurate compliance with the procedures which are overseen by Money Laundering Risk Officers (MLROs).

The FSA now routinely fines both compliance and MLROs as well as holding company directors responsible for lack of adequate risk and AML controls. Additionally, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has recently imposed a million dollar fine to a leading broker for ‘not implementing automated electronic systems for AML’.

Effective systems for AML, compliance and reporting are also a necessity for any company using the SWIFT network. Without up to date controls within the payments operation, institutions are exposed to increased financial and reputational risk.

Simon Murby, Managing Director of SMA Financial said, “Anyone charged with implementing and maintaining risk, compliance and AML strategies needs to ensure that they are using up to date AML software that can provide real time AML controls. The regulatory fines that have been handed out by the various financial authorities clearly show that banks cannot afford to make cut backs in this vital area. We urge our clients to be vigilant with their AML controls and assist where required to ensure they have in place best practice systems to avoid putting their business and their clients at risk.”

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