Transforming Sanctions Screening: Improving Performance with Advanced Technology

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24 February 2021

Financial institutions are straining under the operational burden of manually investigating and decisioning alerts, perhaps nowhere more so than in the sanctions area.


Sanctions screening in many ways underpins anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorist financing (CTF) operations at financial institutions and is a critical step across the customer lifecycle, from account opening to authorizing payments to periodic customer review.

A continual stream of regulatory actions has ensured the attention of financial institutions on sanctions issues. Some of the largest AML-related regulatory fines incurred by financial institutions have been imposed for inadequate sanctions programs. Document leaks such as the FinCEN files and Panama Papers have further drawn the focus of both banks and regulators on strengthening sanctions operations.

Sanctions screening continues to be largely a matter of name matching based on structured data analysis and supported with manual and time-consuming investigation by human analysts. But sanctions operations can be enhanced with the same modern technologies that are remaking KYC, CDD, and case management.

This report was commissioned by NICE Actimize, but the analysis and conclusions are Celent’s alone.