From Criminal Behaviour to AI and ML in Financial Crime Prevention with Shilpa Arora
As we edge closer to the IDENTITY.i Virtual Summit we catch up with guest speaker and AML Director at ACAMS, Shilpa Arora.
CGG: With the current COVID-19 crisis, what are the key impacts you have seen on the industry relating to criminal behaviour?
SA: Large criminal groups are known to be organised, ready to lie low and wait. Criminals also tend to be opportunistic and alter their modus operandi to respond to any new weaknesses and opportunities they spot. We have already seen an increase in frauds and scams. Financial institutions need to be vigilant now to guard against sudden surges in activity. Economic hardship may tempt businesses to lower standards into accepting new sources of funding that they would have otherwise not sought. Fewer transactions are taking place than normal due to the current economic downturn which makes it harder to disguise illicit funds. This has helped law enforcement seize large quantities of narcotics and cash as we have seen across Europe in the UK and in Netherlands recently. See this excellent article which covers all of these aspects in detail.
CGG: In your view, what is the greatest threat facing the market and what would be your recommendation to mitigate this?
SA: It's a hard question to answer as threats change and evolve continuously. Taking a step back to see the big picture, criminals' needs to launder illicit gains never go away. The one way to mitigate this threat is education. Money laundering is sadly still seen as a victimless white collared crime. The truth is that criminal activity does lasting damage to our society and has too many victims. With a good understanding of money laundering, its typologies, cooperation among regulators and law enforcement, effective controls and suspicious activity reporting, the net is closing on criminals. Education cannot be limited to compliance functions, but has to be across all lines of defence in organisations.
CGG: You will be presenting the opening plenary keynote on "Algorithm Transparency: Why does the computer say no?" Could you give us a brief overview of what you will be covering in your session at IDENTITY.i?
SA: As systems have evolved to be more complex and sophisticated, our shared ability to understand how systems operate, the logic and rules that govern their output has not kept up. Increasing use of AI and ML in financial crime prevention is becoming a necessity for survival. Keeping algorithms transparent and well understood is not just a regulatory requirement but is a fair, transparent and sensible manner to conduct business. My session includes live examples of where transparency has gone badly wrong and how to achieve transparency in your own organisations. As well as the discussion you can also expect me to share sources and reading recommendations to enhance our understanding further.
CGG: Why would you recommend delegates attend IDENTITY.i and what are you most looking forward to at the Summit?
SA: A lot of things have changed as a result of the pandemic and one of them is conferences. I enjoy attending and speaking at digital conferences and networking with industry practitioners.
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Shilpa is the AML Director, Europe Middle East and Africa for ACAMS, where she is responsible for the development of regional anti-financial crime content strategy and implementation across all channels. Shilpa also builds and manages the expanding multilingual faculty of leading subject matter experts and instructors who work with ACAMS on curriculum development, instruction, event programming and task forces. Shilpa represents ACAMS by speaking at select major industry events and conferences, participating in think tanks and engaging proactively with policy makers, regulators and industry practitioners across the region.
Shilpa is an industry expert in financial crime prevention in the financial services sector. She has a strong understanding of risk frameworks and control environments. She is highly regarded for her ability to deliver large scale culture change and transformation in technology and financial crime prevention.
Previously Shilpa was the Head of Financial Crime Prevention for the Retail and Business Bank in Santander UK. She was accountable for all areas of financial crime prevention including KYC/ CDD, customer screening, payment screening, transaction monitoring, customer risk assessment and assurance. She led the bank through the implementation of AML/ CTF and ABC policies, advisory on high risk onboarding, training and communication and risk assessments. She also held leadership roles in Barclays in financial crime prevention, governance and controls and led large transformation programmes.