Beneficial ownership: Increasing transparency and ensuring compliance

Beneficial ownership: Increasing transparency and ensuring compliance

by Rebecca “Becky” Schauer Robertson, EVP, Director of AML Compliance, South State Bank

Can you please tell the Risk Insights readers a little bit about yourself, your experiences and what your current professional focus is?

I have been in the regulatory compliance field for almost 20 years with the past 15 years focused solely on Bank Secrecy Act and Anti-Money Laundering Compliance. My focus as Director of AML Compliance is to continuously find a balance within business lines, especially those focused on customer service, to ensure knowledge and risk-based application of the Bank Secrecy Act throughout the organization.

What, for you, are the benefits of attending a conference like the Fraud and Financial Crime USA Congress and what can attendees expect to learn from your session?

Attending a conference like the Fraud and Financial Crime USA Congress provides the exact platform for peers and colleagues to share experiences, knowledge, and to network; networking is so important in this field! We all can learn from each other and ultimately improve upon current practices; knowledge is power.

You will be joined by State Street in  a panel discussion on beneficial  ownership, in your opinion, how can  beneficial ownership be  implemented to ensure compliance  and increase transparency?

A central repository of beneficial ownership information would be the most valuable tool to increase transparency. Until there is a unified place to record and share this information, banks and other businesses alike will struggle with compliance and transparency. Additionally, uniformity across states for incorporating or forming a business would be a large factor in identifying shell companies and owners; however, changes in laws must occur and include consistency.

What are the implications of  increasing customer confidence?

The more information a bank is required to obtain, the more opportunity for a customer to question a bank’s ability to keep the customer’s information secure. Even if some forms of customer information are easily obtainable through other avenues (i.e. the Internet), the first place a customer will look to if information is compromised is to the bank. Customer confidence could play a key role in the success or failure of a bank in relation to reputational risk.

What are the challenges in  identifying the real account owner?

The challenge in identifying the real beneficial owner(s) is the Rule’s allowance for reliance on information the customer has provided. If a bank chooses to tighten its procedures over and above what the regulatory requirements are, this could prove to be a competitive disadvantage resulting in customers’ moving their business elsewhere in an effort to provide less information. It makes more sense for beneficial ownership identification to rest at the state level and should be a requirement when an business seeks to become a business, when registering with a secretary of state or obtaining a business license. Banks should be able to rely on information from state or local government offices to obtain and verify this information.

How do you see the impact of Fraud and Financial Crime evolving over the next 6-12 months?

Artificial Intelligence will be a key factor in the continued success of strong AML and Fraud prevention / detection programs. With the constant, fast-paced evolution of technology through online and cryptic channels, AI will provide much needed advanced analytical capabilities to assist with current human efforts.

You may also be interested in…

Sign up for your free account:


Don’t miss out on…

X-Tech 2019