What are Anti-Money Laundering Procedures?

Julien Fissette
Published on
February 22, 2024
Last edited on
min read
min read

What are Anti-Money Laundering Procedures?

Julien Fissette
Published on
February 22, 2024
Last edited on
min read
min read
What are Anti-Money Laundering Procedures?

In a world where financial transactions increasingly move between sectors and across borders, anti-money laundering procedures (AML) stand as essential guardrails against the concealment of illicit gains.

This guide offers an in-depth look into AML, from understanding its core components like KYC (Know Your Customer), to exploring advanced compliance strategies, technological innovations, and global cooperative efforts.

With an estimated $1.6 trillion laundered annually, understanding these frameworks is key for safeguarding the integrity of financial markets. Not only that, but investors need them to be functioning well in order to make informed and ethically sound decisions.

Overview of Anti-Money Laundering

Unraveling the complexities of AML begins with understanding its foundation and global function.

What Is Money Laundering? 

Imagine a scenario where illegally obtained money, i.e. from drug trafficking or embezzlement, is funneled through transactions to make it look like it came from a legitimate source. This is money laundering, and it’s a much more common problem than most people realize. 

Money laundering typically involves three key stages:

  1. Entering the illegal funds into a legitimate financial system
  2. Obscuring their illicit origins through complex transactions
  3. Integrating them back into the economy as “clean” money 

For example, a criminal might use a cash-based business to disguise proceeds from illegal activities, blending them with the business's legitimate revenues and erasing their criminal trace.

What Is Anti-Money Laundering? 

AML encompasses the policies, laws, and regulations designed to thwart the process of legitimizing ill-gotten gains.

AML strategies vary worldwide but generally include stringent monitoring of financial transactions, thorough vetting of customer identities, and the obligation to report suspicious financial activity.

These measures are intended not just to detect laundering attempts but as a deterrent too, creating a financial environment where such practices are significantly more challenging to execute.

The Global Framework and Impact of AML

The framework for AML is anchored by global institutions like the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which sets international standards to combat money laundering and terrorist financing. 

And the European Commission has taken its own steps to create safeguards and deterrents. In 2021, a package of tough legislative proposals were brought forward to buttress the EU’s AML defenses. This included the creation of a new EU authority, AMLA, to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. The timeline for the authority to be up and running suggests it should be operational some time this year.

These standards compel banks and other financial entities to implement stringent customer identification protocols, to report any unusual or suspicious financial activities, and to maintain comprehensive records of transactions.

It’s not only the financial entities and traditional banks, however. AML is for everyone. It could be a casino or a football club – they too are subject to AML provisions in the EU. Lawyers, notaries, and real estate agents as well; none of these are above AML. Its scope goes much further.

The ramifications of these regulations extend far beyond compliance; they forge a transparent and ethical financial environment. This global vigilance nurtures investor confidence and fortifies the foundational stability of the world’s financial markets, while also shielding economies from the disruptive influence of illicit financial flows.

Core Elements of AML Compliance

Understanding the pillars of AML, such as Customer Due Diligence (CDD) and Know Your Customer (KYC), is vital for investor confidence.

Know Your Customer (KYC)

KYC is more than just a compliance checkbox or regulatory buzzword; it's an important practice for anyone in the investment space.

At its core, KYC is about knowing who you're doing business with. It involves verifying the identity of clients, understanding their financial activities, and assessing any potential risks associated with them.

For instance, if you're an investor considering a partnership with a new company, KYC processes ensure you're not inadvertently stepping into a deal with a business that's entangled in questionable activities.

It's like doing a background check before inviting someone into your financial world – a step that's essential for safeguarding your interests and ensuring your investments are sound and secure.

Know Your Business (KYB)

An essential extension of the above process is KYB, or Know Your Business. For entities involved in the financial spheres, this is a vital step in the process to prevent money laundering.

It’s not enough to know the identity of clients. Proper practice dictates you collect and verify the identity of the people you’re doing business with as well. Compliance here will mean the exchanging of registration documents, addresses and all relevant licenses.

Customer Due Diligence (CDD)

CDD is the investigative process that goes hand-in-hand with KYC, where financial institutions verify the identity of their clients to prevent fraud and money laundering.

It involves a deeper dive into the nature of a customer's business, the legitimacy of their funds, and their overall risk profile – think of it as a financial flashlight that illuminates the background of potential business partners or investment opportunities.

For you as an investor, CDD is a reassurance that your financial engagements are aligned with legal standards, protecting your interests and those of the broader financial community.

Advanced AML Compliance Strategies

Advanced AML strategies play a key role in safeguarding financial transactions and protecting investor interests against financial crimes.

Transaction Monitoring and Reporting

Transaction monitoring and reporting form the backbone of AML. It involves continuous scrutiny of clients' financial activities to identify unusual or inconsistent patterns that may indicate money laundering.

For instance, if a series of high-value transactions are suddenly made by an account with typically low activity, it triggers an alert. This is followed by a detailed investigation and, if necessary, a report to regulatory authorities.


Effective record-keeping is an equally important pillar of AML compliance. Financial institutions are required to maintain detailed records of transactions, including the identities of parties involved, the nature of the transactions, and the amounts transferred.

For instance, a bank might keep extensive records of international wire transfers, scrutinizing the source and destination of funds. These records are critical in tracing the flow of money, aiding in the detection of laundering schemes.

AML Applications Across Industries

AML's influence extends across various sectors, each adapting its principles to their specific context.

AML in Diverse Sectors

  • Banking: In the banking sector, AML is crucial for monitoring transactions, identifying suspicious activities, and reporting them. Banks use AML to prevent being used as conduits for money laundering or terrorist financing.
  • Real estate: In real estate, AML involves investigating property transactions to prevent the investment of illicit funds. For instance, large all-cash purchases may be subject to additional checks to verify the source of the funds.
  • Gaming and betting: Casinos and online gaming platforms monitor large and irregular transactions to identify potential criminal activity, paying especially close attention to bumper jackpot prizes and cash withdrawals.
  • Art dealerships: Art market participants adhere to AML regulations by verifying the authenticity of art sales and the origins of funds, especially in high-value transactions, to deter laundering through art trading.

In essence, AML measures are designed to identify and dismantle any potential channels for money laundering, ensuring that every avenue that could be exploited for illicit financial activities is rigorously monitored and safeguarded.

Technological Innovations in AML 

Advancements in technology have revolutionized the way AML measures are implemented today.

Embracing Tech in AML: Software and AI

  • Client and transaction screening software: Streamlines the detection of high-risk clients and abnormal financial patterns, also ensuring clients meet global sanction list standards (i.e. not on watchlists) to prevent involvement in suspicious activities.
  • Machine learning: Imagine a system that gets smarter with each transaction it analyzes. Machine learning does just that, constantly refining its ability to pinpoint risky transactions that don't fit the usual patterns.
  • Liveness checks: Utilizes real-time facial recognition technology to provide foolproof identity verification. This feature ensures that individuals involved in transactions are physically present, significantly reducing the risk of fraud in digital environments.

Global AML Efforts and Cooperation 

Addressing money laundering requires unified actions across nations.

Collaborative Efforts in AML: International Perspective

Think about every high-profile money laundering case you’ve heard of: shell companies, cross-border smuggling, offshore accounts – it's a global issue. And global issues demand multilateral global responses.

The FATF leads this charge, not just by setting standards but also by fostering international collaboration in law enforcement and regulatory measures. The UN’s Global Programme against Money Laundering (GPML) further extends this effort by assisting member states in implementing effective AML systems.

Additionally, the Egmont Group, comprising financial intelligence units from over 160 countries, contributes by facilitating information and resource exchange, leading to significant takedowns of international money laundering networks.

Case Study: Credit Suisse

In a landmark case, Credit Suisse (a Swiss bank) faced a French-led investigation for alleged tax fraud and money laundering.

Initiated in 2016, French authorities, in collaboration with the Swiss, uncovered around 5,000 undisclosed accounts held by French clients, containing nearly $2 billion in hidden assets. 

This cross-border cooperative effort culminated in Credit Suisse agreeing to a settlement of 123 million euros in fines and additional compensations to France, showcasing the power of international cooperation in combating financial crimes.

Gauging AML Effectiveness: An Investor's Perspective

As an investor, exercising due diligence in assessing the effectiveness of AML programs is a worthwhile step before making any investment.

Key performance indicators include the efficiency of transaction monitoring, adherence to global AML standards, and the quality of Suspicious Activity Reports. The capacity to adapt to evolving laundering methods further indicates a program's robustness.

It's imperative to review these elements to ensure that your potential investment partners maintain strict AML compliance, thereby protecting the security and integrity of your financial engagements. In short: when in doubt, ask!

Navigating AML: A Step Towards Safer Investments

AML represents an ongoing battle against the criminal world, a dynamic game of evasion and enforcement. In this ever-changing financial landscape, staying informed about the nuances of AML is essential to ensure compliance and to avoid entanglements with non-compliant entities.

To deepen your AML knowledge and make informed investment choices, visit Roundtable – your gateway to a more secure financial future.


[1] https://www.finra.org/rules-guidance/key-topics/aml 

[2] https://www.sas.com/en_gb/insights/fraud/anti-money-laundering.html 

[3] https://www.imf.org/en/Topics/Financial-Integrity/amlcft 

[4] https://www.nature.com/articles/s41597-023-02569-2 

[5] https://truelayer.com/blog/compliance-and-regulation/what-is-anti-money-laundering-aml/