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What is an Anti-Money Laundering Specialist?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 28 October 2016
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An anti-money laundering specialist is a financial industry professional who focuses on the prevention and detection of money laundering activity. Some belong to professional organizations and carry credentials to increase their employability. Others may get their training on the job and rely on experience when it comes to applying for work. Banks use anti-money laundering specialists as do law enforcement agencies and agencies responsible for implementing government policy.

This work requires knowledge of the laws in a given country pertaining to money laundering. The anti-money laundering specialist is familiar with all the details of the law, including the responsibilities of individual financial institutions. At banks, these people train other personnel, help establish compliance policies, and cooperate with law enforcement when investigations arise. Their work includes everything from filing reports on suspicious customer activity to helping branch banks train their personnel so they know how to file reports in compliance with the law.

The anti-money laundering specialist is also trained in looking for the signs of money laundering and taking appropriate action. Even if activities do not need to be reported to the government, they can be tracked internally so the bank can monitor customers of concern, and reports for government agencies can be prepared with a collection of information about customers. The anti-money laundering specialist helps define, set, and reform bank policy to address changes in the law, the financial industry, and the community.

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At law enforcement agencies, anti-money laundering specialists review reports filed by banks, flagging those of concern for further evaluation. They can also assist banks with legal compliance and provide outreach and education to help banks learn to identify money laundering and take appropriate action. This work can also include educating untrained law enforcement officers who want to work on a financial crimes task force. At other government agencies, these professionals are involved in creating sensible, comprehensive policy for fighting money laundering.

One problem with financial crimes is that people tend to be highly adaptive when it comes to adjusting their habits and behaviors, to reduce the risk of being caught. As the law changes, people change tactics, making it harder to trace their activities. Anti-money laundering specialists need to be able to think like their targets in order to accurately and rapidly identify financial activities of concern. The anti-money laundering specialist also has to be alert to issues like bribery and corruption within a bank or government agency, with people being paid to look the other way when financial crimes occur.

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