3 insights from our money laundering & illicit finance webinar

Jun 23, 2023
Clue gathered anti-money laundering and financial crime experts to tackle the malign influence of money laundering and opportunities to disrupt it.

Money laundering is often viewed as a by-product of more serious crime.  

But make no mistake, the mechanism of criminal funding directly facilitates violence, corruption, terrorism, addiction and lost livelihoods plaguing society.  

While its scale is difficult to quantify, the NCA estimates that £100 billion, or 4% of UK GDP is tainted by money laundering activities.  

Progress is being made incrementally, but there is a long way to go.  

Anti-money laundering (AML) initiatives within the private and public sectors may currently disrupt just 2-4% of this activity.  

AML experts tackle key challenges and opportunities

As the financial threat evolves to comprise illicit finance at the hands of state actors posing real national security risks, law enforcement, government and the private sector require an urgent rethink of tools and responses.  

On June 20th, Clue gathered experts in financial crime and AML to explore the scale, impact, and opportunities to counter money laundering and illicit finance in the UK.  

Chaired by Ian Dyson QPM, Distinguished Fellow at RUSI (Royal United Services Institute) and former commissioner at the City of London Police, the panel for our webinar Tackling money laundering and illicit finance with data, intelligence & partnerships, included:   

  • Helena Wood, Head of UK Economic Crime Programme, RUSI 
  • Nick Lewis OBE, Global Head, i3 – Integrated Intelligence & Investigations, Standard Chartered Bank 
  • Sal Melki, Head of Threat Leadership, National Economic Crime Centre (NECC), National Crime Agency (NCA) 
  • Matt Horne, Head of Policing & Government, Clue Software

The webinar is now available to rewatch below. In this article, we highlight key insights from the discussion.

Dare to share your data, innovation and resources

Driving strategic and high-level collaboration between the private and public sectors is vital. “Neither sector can tackle this alone,” said Nick.

Organisations of all stripes must realise they hold valuable information and do more to open a two-way flow of information.

In one example of missed opportunities, the arrest of a Colombian drug lord by authorities could have led to the identification and prosecution of an international money laundering network discovered retrospectively, had law enforcement approached the banking sector for intelligence at the time of the arrest.

“Dare to share,” said Matt. “Have the courage and convictions to share intelligence … there is no excuse not to be bold.”

When it comes to investments in AI, data analytics and other tech and R&D, the public and private sectors should not try to solve the same problem independently, said Sal.

“Build massive partnerships, multi-discipline and cross-sector – if you can add value to it, join it.”

A tech-enabled response must be underpinned by talent

On the opportunities available today, “We need to start talking about the technology we couldn’t have dreamt of,” said Helena. 

Law enforcement now has “pockets of exceptional capability,” said Sal, but must invest deeply in data analytics to unlock the value of available information while balancing investments against public cost.

To achieve the most value from investments, Matt urged users to demand interoperability and integration from “responsible” vendors with a vision to and “democratise” capabilities.

With limited budgets, however, technology investments cannot be made without “getting the basics right,” including digital skills and retention which remains a key challenge to public sector tech enablement.

Currently, remuneration cannot compete with private sector organisations, leading to a ‘brain drain’ of individuals trained as financial data analysts and scientists.

The upshot? More must be done to both enhance and promote the benefits of public sector financial crime investigations, agreed the panel.  

Don’t wait for ‘perfect’ regulation, proactively drive it

Extending regulation will have a limited impact on tackling money laundering and illicit finance, said Helena.

“We have got to start looking outside the regulatory ringfence to find other levers.”

Regulatory challenges are often regarded as the biggest barrier to keeping pace with criminals.

But the AML community cannot wait for the “perfect” regulatory environment to deploy better intelligence sharing and tech capabilities, said Helena, because “it’s never going to exist.”

A perspective change must happen, whereby organisations recognise the “difference between complying with the letter of the law and the spirit of the law,” she said.

“Look at the real risk, not the theoretical risk… the most visionary people in this space are those that find a way through.”

Nick agreed: “Don’t wait for legislation, proactively pursue it.

“Where we’ve enjoyed success, it’s because we’ve had visionary people that are willing to try [something innovative].

“Try something, speak to partners, understand contributions, and drive legislation. Historically, this is how legislation has been passed through.”

Clue is used by private and public sector teams to conduct end-to-end economic crime investigations, aggregating data and intelligence sources to provide a holistic view of potential criminal activity and to effectively counter fraud

Learn more about Clue formoney laundering & illicit finance, or contact our Head of Policing & Government,Matt Horne. 


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