What are you looking for?

13 May 2020

Each year, tens of billions of illicitly generated capital pass through the Netherlands. A whole range of constructions are used in an effort to transfer this money to the legitimate financial system. Banks play a crucial role in detecting these financial crimes, which take the form of money-laundering, financing of terrorism, fraud, tax evasion and corruption. When presenting the annual report of the Dutch central bank earlier this year, the bank's president Klaas Knot underlined the importance of this gatekeeper role and called for it to be given the highest priority.

‘ABN AMRO does business with more than 5.5 million private customers. It's very satisfying to be able to identify precisely those client files that constitute a risk. By identifying links, searching for additional information and asking more in-depth questions, to gain an insight into what’s really going on. While we don't actually apprehend criminals, we do contribute to a better society by ensuring that the bank doesn't facilitate their financial activities.’

Saskia van Brussel is Team lead of the Know Your Client (KYC) team at Private & Retail Banking. She began her career in the branch network, making the switch to Compliance just over a decade ago. ‘The dynamism in this area is phenomenal. Not only are laws and regulations relating to money-laundering and terrorism financing constantly changing, but political and social pressure for the bank to play a leading role in the fight against financial crime is also intensifying. As a result, we’ve decided to gather all our activities focusing on investigating financial crime into a new Detecting Financial Crime department. We’re currently establishing a specialist unit in Den Bosch for the retail organisation, along similar lines to the existing centres in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. We're thus pooling all our knowledge and expertise so that we can remain one step ahead of financial criminals.’

Detective work

‘There are two sides to the detective work we do. It all starts with having our client files in good order. This may mean having to contact the account-holding branch, but where necessary we’ll also approach clients themselves. Only after that can you start scrutinising anomalies, which we do with the help of technology. We’ll start our investigation as soon as a client file gets a ‘red flag’. We use a wide range of internal and external sources and work with colleagues who specialise in tax, legal or transaction monitoring. Recently, for example, we investigated a client who appeared to have a completely normal checking and savings account. Nothing wrong apparently. But we were struck by the fact that a monthly rental income was paid into it which left the account again almost immediately. A little digging revealed that the client had a sizeable property portfolio. We then need to get a clear understanding of who the client is, how the portfolio was built up and whether there is anything irregular about it.

This calls for an inquisitive mind, perseverance and a determination to uncover the facts on the part of our team members. We rarely tread a straight and even path, but instead look for creative solutions or approaches which help us to get to the truth. So if you are an enthusiastic team player with strong written and verbal skills, I’d be interested to meet you.

Due to the rapid growth of our organisation, I’d also like to hear from any KYC specialists who would be able to help lead the way. Experienced senior analysts who could train their junior colleagues and efficiently direct the overall programme.

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