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Comprehensive background checks are crucial in financial services. Make sure to arm yourself with the required information - here’s what you should know.

When conducting a comprehensive background check for financial services, it’s important to consider state and federal histories. Doing a simple internet search may not detect enough information—it’s important to use state, local and federal databases for criminal records in order to get the full picture of the records provider. Additionally, you can seek out information from professional networks or consumer review websites which may be more up-to-date than public records.

Perform Credit History Checks.

Credit history checks are also important to consider when conducting background checks for financial services. It’s vital to check credit scores, current address and previous addresses. This is the best course of action if you are going to manage money or provide loans because it gives an accurate picture of how creditworthy someone is. If a person has a lower-than-average credit score, this could be an indication that they come with high risks and may not be the best choice for financial services.

Include Interviews or Reference Checks When Applicable.

For certain positions in the financial services sector, interviews or reference checks may be beneficial. This is particularly relevant for jobs that involve managing people’s money, investments, or finances as it provides crucial insight into previous vacancies. You can get a better understanding of their abilities and experience by obtaining references from previous employers or colleagues. Additionally, interviewing potential employees gives you an opportunity to conduct a personality assessment and find out if they are the right fit for your organization’s culture and values.

Look Up Employment and Education Records For Financial Services Professionals.

For financial services positions, you should look up the employment records of any potential employee to make sure that they have the qualifications and experience needed for the role. In addition, look up their academic background to ensure that they have completed the education necessary for working in finance roles. Core qualifications may be affected by laws or regulatory bodies, so always make sure to do your research and understand which educational or professional qualifications are required for certain positions. You can contact local universities or conduct background checks to confirm these credentials.

Utilize Third-Party Sources for Additional Background Assurance.

Third-party sources such as criminal record searches or consumer credit checks, can help provide additional assurance. So you should make sure to utilize multiple sources and assemble as much information from all accessible channels as possible. In addition, financial institutions may require staff to take financial responsibility tests or adhere to professional ethical standards, so be sure to incorporate these into your background check requirements for any potential employees for finance roles.

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Moneta Intelligence Group respects investigative journalists and supports teams at ProPublica, Axios, ICIJ and many others. A quick reminder of the one-year anniversary of the ICIJ's "world-rocking expose, The Pandora Papers.

ONE YEAR ago this week, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 150 partners around the globe began rolling out the Pandora Papers, a world-rocking exposé that’s been called “a money bomb with political ripples,” “a financial earthquake” and “one of the essential stories of our time.”

The project took readers deeper than ever inside an offshore financial system that perpetuates corruption and authoritarianism and widens gaps between rich and poor. A U.S. senator called the investigation a “wake-up call to all who care about the future of democracy.”

More than 600 journalists at 151 news organizations in 117 countries worked together to make the Pandora Papers a reality — the largest collaboration in journalism history.

The Pandora Papers’ revelations about the financial secrets of prime ministers, oligarchs, mobsters and other powerful figures spawned action by governments and international groups, triggering investigations, legislation and rule changes in dozens of countries. that just one year ago the the Pandora Papers, a world-rocking exposé that’s been called “a money bomb with political ripples,” “a financial earthquake” and “one of the essential stories of our time.”

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NatWest fined £264.8 million for anti-money laundering failures

National Westminster Bank Plc (NatWest) was today fined £264,772,619.95 following convictions for three offences of failing to comply with money laundering regulations.

Mrs Justice Cockerill, the sentencing judge at Southwark Crown Court, today said: '….it must be borne in mind that although in no way complicit in the money laundering which took place, the Bank was functionally vital. Without the Bank – and without the Bank’s failures - the money could not be effectively laundered.' 

NatWest pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrates Court on 7 October. This is the first time the FCA has pursued criminal charges for money laundering failings.The charges covered NatWest’s failure to properly monitor the activity of a commercial customer, Fowler Oldfield, a jewellery business based in Bradford, between 8 November 2012 to 23 June 2016. 

When taking on the customer, NatWest initially understood it would not handle cash from the Fowler Oldfield business. However, over the course of the customer relationship approximately £365m was deposited with the bank, of which around £264m was in cash.

Some of the bank’s employees, who were responsible for handling these cash deposits, reported their suspicions to bank staff responsible for investigating suspected money laundering, however no appropriate action was ever taken. The ‘red flags’ that were reported included significant amounts of Scottish bank notes deposited throughout England, deposits of notes carrying a prominent musty smell, and individuals acting suspiciously when depositing cash in NatWest branches. In addition, the bank’s automated transaction monitoring system incorrectly recognised some cash deposits as cheque deposits. As cheques carry a lower money laundering risk than cash, this was a significant gap in the bank’s monitoring of a large number of customers depositing cash, of which Fowler Oldfield was one.

A separate investigation by West Yorkshire Police has led to 11 people pleading guilty to charges relating to the cash deposits and three cash couriers being charged. A further 13 individuals are awaiting trial at Leeds Crown Court on 25 April 2022 in relation to the activities of Fowler Oldfield.Mark Steward, Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight at the FCA, said:'NatWest is responsible for a catalogue of failures in the way it monitored and scrutinised transactions that were self-evidently suspicious. Combined with serious systems failures, like the treatment of cash deposits as cheques, these failures created an open door for money laundering.'Anti-money laundering controls are a vital part of the fight against serious crime, like drug trafficking, and such failures are intolerable ones that let down the whole community, which, in this case, justified the FCA’s first criminal prosecution under the Money Laundering Regulations.'

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