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Just When You Thought Your Paintings Were Safe…

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Everything from your morning coffee purchase to business transactions seems to takes place online. So it seems almost quaint to worry about the physical theft of a painting. But just Google “art heist movies” and take your pick. It’s a popular genre on-screen and in real life too. Sadly, the scenario reveals a fascinating slice of financial crime. Criminals, like legitimate businesses, like to diversify their risk. So, imagine, for a moment, a heist not for the artwork itself. But think about what it represents in the shadowy depths of money laundering and fraud.

Hidden Risks in The Art World

Financial crime is evergreen, adapting as fast as technology evolves, and its tendrils reach deep into the art world. Works of art are not stolen only for their aesthetic appeal, but also as a vehicle for laundering the proceeds of crime. Sometimes, individual pieces disappear for decades before re-surfacing. This form of deceit is complex, blending traditional theft with high-tech fraud, and highlighting the challenges businesses face in safeguarding assets.

Artworks, with their high value, portability, and liquidity, are attractive to criminals seeking to cleanse their ill-gotten gains. The issue isn’t confined to any single locale; while a recent alert from the UK National Crime Agency spotlights the problem, it’s a global concern. The United States, with its vast wealth and vibrant art market, is not immune.

High Stakes Behind the Beauty  – with Money Laundering Thrown In

But this is more than a tale of stolen beauty. It’s a wake-up call to the financial industry about the sophistication and breadth of financial crime. From the laundering of drug money to the funding of terrorism, the methods employed by criminals leverage technology with great ingenuity. It’s a problem that costs the global economy staggering amounts, with at least one estimate suggesting $3.5 trillion annually.

The frontline defense for businesses, particularly those in the financial sector, lies in robust compliance measures. Effective Know Your Customer (KYC) practices and diligent transaction monitoring are no longer just regulatory requirements; they are essential tools in the fight against financial crime. Yet, many institutions struggle to keep pace with the rapid development of both financial crime tactics and the regulatory landscape designed to combat them. Recent comment in Fintech Finance News suggests “Majority of financial institutions [are] unprepared to accommodate further regulatory change.

Safeguarding Assets with Advanced Compliance Solutions

If that’s a concern, breathe deeply and relax. There’s always an alternative. Take Compli from Essiell Compli, for example. This service doesn’t just tick the boxes for compliance; it protects businesses and their customers from financial crime on a continual basis. Full customer screening, real-time ID and address verification, and powerful, advanced, transaction monitoring, mean that Compli offers a solution that’s deeply comprehensive. It’s highly effective, customizable and scalable.

The genius of Compli lies not just in its robust security measures but in its adaptability. It’s designed to meet the specific needs of each organization it serves, ensuring that businesses aren’t just reacting to threats but staying several steps ahead. Where the methods of financial crime are constantly evolving, Compli provides the peace of mind that comes from knowing you’re protected globally in an interactive and interconnected world – all helping to keep art heists more on the silver screen than in the underworld.

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By Declan Morton, staff writer at Essiell Compli and Essiell Ltd.


For reference:   Artwork money laundering runs rife warns NCA in amber alert, FinExtra, January 26, 2024;  Financial crimes steal more than $3 trillion from the global economy, El Pais, January 24, 2024; Anti-Money Laundering 2024, Financier Worldwide, January 2024; Majority of financial institutions unprepared to accommodate further regulatory change, data reveals, Fintech Finance News, January 24, 2024.

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