Print Article

The FCA muses on AML systems and controls


One of the dilemmas of white-collar crime is the victim is too often either invisible or, in some cases, like insider dealing, believed, wrongly, not to really exist, which means the wrongdoer is more easily able to commit a crime in which real harm is never felt, seen or experienced directly. So too if the potential impact is not on ‘your street’ or in ‘your country’.

There is a version of this in relation to systems and controls, especially if they become bureaucratic insulation, attenuating [weakening] the system from the gritty reality of the predicate criminality that needs to be inhibited.

And, for the purposes of AML controls, the risks are not limited to white-collar crime, extending to the proceeds of all criminal proceeds, from drug trafficking to terrorist financing.

While the harm from such crimes may be difficult to feel or appreciate because the distance between fund flows and the scene of the crime is so attenuated, the consequences of AML failures may well be a life and death matter.

The recent FCA (Commerzbank /Goldman Sachs )cases demonstrate both the value and challenge of systems and controls.

On one hand, effective AML systems create a controlled environment that is able to identify valuable signals in complex data, with repeatable interrogations geared to specific and reasonably foreseeable crime risks, to ensure decision-making is calibrated to those risks and to record accurately how those risks have been addressed.

On the other hand, systems can become overly complicated, bureaucratised, vulnerable to gaming by less scrupulous players, and expensive.

There is an inherent risk that complex systems lose a sense of what they exist for, where the management challenge to maintain the system becomes an end in itself, rather than the system or control acting as radar to identify and manage the actual risks facing financial services firms.

AML systems and controls must be focused explicitly on the activating purpose and function of those controls to ensure the system is not just a bureaucratic process and to ensure it cannot be gamed.



The Team

Meet the team of industry experts behind Comsure

Find out more

Latest News

Keep up to date with the very latest news from Comsure

Find out more


View our latest imagery from our news and work

Find out more


Think we can help you and your business? Chat to us today

Get In Touch

News Disclaimer

As well as owning and publishing Comsure's copyrighted works, Comsure wishes to use the copyright-protected works of others. To do so, Comsure is applying for exemptions in the UK copyright law. There are certain very specific situations where Comsure is permitted to do so without seeking permission from the owner. These exemptions are in the copyright sections of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (as amended)[]. Many situations allow for Comsure to apply for exemptions. These include 1] Non-commercial research and private study, 2] Criticism, review and reporting of current events, 3] the copying of works in any medium as long as the use is to illustrate a point. 4] no posting is for commercial purposes [payment]. (for a full list of exemptions, please read here]. Concerning the exceptions, Comsure will acknowledge the work of the source author by providing a link to the source material. Comsure claims no ownership of non-Comsure content. The non-Comsure articles posted on the Comsure website are deemed important, relevant, and newsworthy to a Comsure audience (e.g. regulated financial services and professional firms [DNFSBs]). Comsure does not wish to take any credit for the publication, and the publication can be read in full in its original form if you click the articles link that always accompanies the news item. Also, Comsure does not seek any payment for highlighting these important articles. If you want any article removed, Comsure will automatically do so on a reasonable request if you email