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Jump in demand for anti-money laundering expertise as banks face increased scrutiny from FCA

BrightPool says that more than 2,157 new anti-laundering roles have been created in the last year in the UK, to handle the recent surge of work in this area.

BrightPool says that some banks are hiring teams of 100 contractors at a time, driving up rates for anti-money laundering contractors by 17%.  A contractor working in this area can attract a rate of up to &pound1,500 a day.

This recruitment includes a mixture of case handlers to review standard cases flagged by the system, more specialist contractors to review suspicious cases, along with operational managers to oversee and maintain high levels of quality control.

BrightPool explains that banks across the world are under unprecedented pressure from regulators to deal with money laundering. For example:

&middot         In August, Standard Chartered revealed that it was in talks with New York’s Department of Financial Services over a possible “enforcement action” for failing to report suspicious transactions.

&middot         In January, the UK division of South Africa’s Standard Bank was fined &pound7.6 million by the FCA for lax anti-money laundering controls. This was the first anti-money laundering case the FCA had brought which was focussed on commercial banking activity. It was also the first case to use a new penalty regime in the UK under which larger fines are expected.

&middot         In December 2012, HSBC agreed to pay a record $US1.9 billion in fines to US authorities for failing to maintain an effective program against money laundering including basic due diligence on some of its account holders, with Mexican and Colombian drug cartels laundering $881 million through HSBC.

BrightPool explains that the surge in demand for anti-money laundering staff at the UK retail banks has been driven by the need to overhaul automated systems designed to identify potential money launderers.

BrightPool adds that the banks are also taking on anti-money laundering contractors to deal with the large volume of cases that need to be screened manually, with the newly tuned systems at the banks “red flagging” a high proportion of cases.

The anti-money laundering functions can involve a wide range of roles including compliance officers, case analysts, IT architects, investigations and surveillance analysts.

Angela Hickmore, Managing Director at BrightPool, comments: “Anti-money laundering teams at banks in the UK are growing rapidly as the banks undertake systematic reviews of how they check for money laundering.”

“The current regulatory scrutiny means that it’s a particular area of focus at the moment with the banks putting in significant resources to bring their AML processes up to scratch.”

“Regulators in the UK and around the world have already shown that they are willing to take a stick to those banks that fail in this area, so banks need to take this extremely seriously.”

Bi-lingual anti-money laundering staff in high demand

In addition, BrightPool reports that there has been a 27% jump in demand for anti-money laundering experts who can speak multiple languages.

BrightPool says that this has been largely driven by an increase in overseas investors placing money in UK banks.

Angela Hickmore comments: “The UK’s position as a global banking hub means that the banks need to be well prepared to assess and analyse transactions from every corner of the world. Anti-money laundering staff that can speak a foreign language are an excellent asset for banks to have.”

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