Moody’s Analytics and The Sentry collaborate to drive greater transparency on criminal activities in business

February 9, 2022

Moody’s Analytics has announced a new collaboration with The Sentry, an investigative and policy team dedicated to preventing financial flows related to grand corruption and mass atrocities in Africa from entering the global financial system. Below, Keith Berry, General Manager of Moody’s KYC business unit, and Justyna Gudzowska, Director of Illicit Finance Policy at The Sentry, discuss how current and emerging financial crime risks are driving demand for data and insights that help organizations delve deeper into their business ecosystem, and get a 360-degree view of who they are transacting with.

Financial crime continues to evolve, with new types of criminal activity emerging around the world. How does this new collaboration with The Sentry support Moody’s efforts to help organizations manage current and emerging financial crime risks?

Keith Berry: Moody’s is committed to promoting transparency in finance by helping organizations better understand the people and companies they are doing business with. We are honored to work with The Sentry on this important initiative to drive greater transparency on illicit activities and related financial crime in Africa. Having access to the right data and insights is key to running a successful Know Your Customer (KYC) and compliance program, and this collaboration will enhance our industry-leading database of risk-relevant data on individuals and organizations and give The Sentry’s investigative and policy team a powerful tool when conducting their investigations.

Justyna Gudzowska: Criminals and illicit actors use a plethora of methods to obfuscate their identity, hide their activity, and continue their criminal activity unbated. In teaming up with Moody’s Analytics, The Sentry can share the fruits of hours of investigative work with compliance and risk professionals that can greatly benefit from these insights. We also live in a deeply interconnected world, and access to the Moody’s Analytics global data of adverse media, sanctions, watchlists and PEPs enhances our investigative work to ensure no stone is left unturned in solving the complex puzzles of financial crime.

Why is cross-industry collaboration critical to prevent financial flows from criminal activity entering the financial system?

Keith Berry: Illicit profits from criminal activity are estimated to account for 2-5% of global GDP per year (between US$800 billion - US$2 trillion) according to the United Nations. Given the substantial amounts at stake, we are seeing increasing complexity in the approaches that are being taken to commit financial crime. Organized crime networks that cross multiple countries and jurisdictions are often at the root of these crimes. It often takes a network to defeat a network and so we think the only way to make an impact on such amounts is to work with partners and our customers across the industry to come up with new data, analytics, and solutions to help counter this global challenge.

Justyna Gudzowska: The Sentry has developed a deep level of expertise in its areas of focus. By sharing this depth of knowledge with the breadth of data and insights offered by Moody’s Analytics, together we can offer deep data that can drive informed risk decision-making to prevent financial crime. A lack of transparency and data is often what makes financial crime difficult to identify. The more organizations can share information so that data can be integrated to connect the dots, the more comprehensive a view investigators can have of networks used to facilitate financial crime.  

What benefits does this collaboration bring to Moody’s customers and The Sentry’s investigative and policy team?

Keith Berry: Moody’s Analytics will add information from The Sentry to its GRID database, which is used by organizations globally to screen their supply chains and customer networks for potential compliance and reputational risks. The Sentry’s information, uncovered through their investigations, includes names and aliases of people and organizations allegedly involved in criminal activities in Africa such as corruption, human rights abuse, and war crimes. The Sentry’s local data expands our existing deep dataset of entities and individuals and deepens our coverage in the region. Access to this accurate, up-to-date information is vital for our clients as they seek to understand who they are doing business with.

Justyna Gudzowska: Access to Moody’s Analytics global data set will significantly enhance our investigative reach.  Through this collaboration, The Sentry will use the Moody’s Analytics GRID database of adverse media, sanctions, and politically exposed persons (PEPs) to further our investigations in Africa.  

What KYC and compliance challenges are going to be top of mind for companies globally in 2022?

Keith Berry: We continue to work with our clients to understand the regulatory, compliance, and KYC challenges they face. For 2022, we hear an ever-increasing need to meet not just regulatory expectations for organizations and their compliance risk management frameworks, but also a growing need to meet expectations of clients, stakeholders, and the public with respect to conducting business responsibly. Risks relating to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) will be front of mind for companies globally this year – from incorporating the social dimension of ESG into products and operations, to managing risks related to technological innovation such as cryptocurrency.

Justyna Gudzowska: With more and more countries implementing sanctions targeting corrupt actors and human rights abusers anywhere in the world, the private sector cannot afford to view financial crime compliance solely through a country-focused lens. Furthermore, with younger investors increasingly motivated by ESG measures, even indirect association with perpetrators of atrocities and kleptocrats could be fatal. To mitigate legal, regulatory, and reputational risks, and satisfy investors and other stakeholders, private sector actors need to be proactive in carrying out appropriate human rights and anti-corruption due diligence.  To do so successfully, access to the right information and tools is essential.

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