Financial Crime Definitions

Financial Crime Definitions, Acronyms and Key Terms

AM Adverse Media

Adverse media refers to relevant negative news or media coverage about a potential customer or client found across a wide range of sources.

Thorough adverse media screening is useful in exposing a person or organisation’s involvement in activities like money laundering, financial fraud, terror financing, and organised crime, especially when they are targeted at higher risk crimes.

Adverse media scanning transcends all the different types of media sources, from traditional news sources to blogs, web articles and even online databases.

AML Anti Money Laundering

Anti-money laundering (AML) refers to the variety of activities financial institutions perform to achieve total compliance to the legal requirements set by the government. It also includes actively monitoring and reporting suspicious activities.

CDD Customer Due Diligence

Customer due diligence means taking steps to identify your customers and checking they are who they say they are. In practice this means obtaining a customer's: name and a photograph on an official document which confirms their identity.

Themis Customer Due Diligence Best Practice Guide

CFT Counter Financing of Terrorism

Combating the Financing of Terrorism (CFT) is a set of government laws, regulations, and other practices that are intended to restrict access to funding and financial services for those whom the government designates as terrorists. By tracking down the source of the funds that support terrorist activities, law enforcement may be able to prevent some of those activities from occurring.

Themis Podcast - Proliferation Financing 101

Themis webinar - Money laundering & terrorist financing risks in Correspondent Banking

EDD Enhanced Due Diligence

Enhanced due diligence (EDD) is essentially what its name suggests: the process of investigating a higher-risk customer more thoroughly than you would others. It is most easily explained via comparison to standard customer due diligence (CDD).

Find out more about Themis Due Diligence

FATF Financial Action Task Force

The Financial Action Task Force, also known by its French name, Groupe d'action financière, is an intergovernmental organisation founded in 1989 on the initiative of the G7 to develop policies to combat money laundering. In 2001, its mandate was expanded to include terrorism financing.

FCA Financial Conduct Authority

The Financial Conduct Authority is a financial regulatory body in the United Kingdom, but operates independently of the UK Government, and is financed by charging fees to members of the financial services industry.



Hawalas and other similar service providers (HOSSPs) arrange for transfer and receipt of funds or equivalent value and settle through trade, cash, and net settlement over a long period of time.

IFF Illicit Financial Flows

Illicit financial flows describe the movement of money that is illegally acquired, transferred or spent across borders.

IWT Illegal Wildlife Trade

The trafficking and unsustainable trade in wildlife commodities such as elephant ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, tiger bone, bear bile, and rosewood are causing unprecedented declines in some of the world's most charismatic, as well as some lesser-known, wildlife species. Themis is on the frontline working to ensure that illegal wildlife trade is identified, prevented, and prosecuted at every opportunity.

IWT Financial Toolkit

JMLIT Joint Money Laundering Intelligence Taskforce

JMLIT is a partnership between law enforcement and the financial sector to exchange and analyse information relating to money laundering and wider economic threats.

JMLSG Joint Money Laundering Steering Group

The Joint Money Laundering Steering Group (JMLSG) is a private sector body that is made up of the leading UK Trade Associations in the financial services industry.

KYC Know your customer

Know Your Customer is the process of verifying the identity of the customer. The objective of KYC guidelines is to prevent banks from being used by criminal elements for money laundering activities.

MLRO Money Laundering Reporting Officer

The job of the MLRO is to act as the focal point within the relevant firm for the oversight of all activity relating to anti-money laundering.

MONEYVAL Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism

The Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism - MONEYVAL is a permanent monitoring body of the Council of Europe entrusted with the task of assessing compliance with the principal international standards to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism and the effectiveness of their implementation, as well as with the task of making recommendations to national authorities in respect of necessary improvements to their systems. Through a dynamic process of mutual evaluations, peer review and regular follow-up of its reports, MONEYVAL aims to improve the capacities of national authorities to fight money laundering and the financing of terrorism more effectively.

NFTs Non-Fungible Tokens

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger, that can be sold and traded. NFTs can take the form of any digital asset, such as photos, videos, and audio. NFTs can also be used to represent ownership of any unique asset, including physical items such as collectables. Because each token is uniquely identifiable, NFTs differ from blockchain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin. However, cryptocurrency is used to sell and trade NFTs on digital marketplaces.

PEP Politically Exposed Person

There are two types of PEPs you can identify - foreign and domestic.

Foreign PEPs are individuals who are or have been entrusted with prominent public functions by a foreign country, for example Heads of State or of government, senior politicians, senior government, judicial or military officials, senior executives of state owned corporations, important political party officials.

Domestic PEPs are individuals who are or have been entrusted domestically with prominent public functions, for example Heads of State or of government, senior politicians, senior government, judicial or military officials, senior executives of state owned corporations, important political party officials. Persons who are or have been entrusted with a prominent function by an international organisation refers to members of senior management, i.e. directors, deputy directors and members of the board or equivalent functions.

S Sanction (s) / Sanctions Watchlists

Financial sanctions are restrictions put in place by the UN or UK to achieve a specific foreign policy or national security objective. They can:

  • limit the provision of certain financial services.
  • restrict access to financial markets, funds and economic resources.

Themis Webinar: Middle East Sanctions Developments and Compliance Challenges

Themis Search & Monitoring: Screen your clients, investors, investments, 3rd parties and supply chains again sanctions watchlists. Watchlists are updated every 6 hours.

SAR Suspicious Activity Report

Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) alert law enforcement to potential instances of money laundering or terrorist financing. SARs are made by financial institutions and other professionals such as solicitors, accountants and estate agents and are a vital source of intelligence not only on economic crime but on a wide range of criminal activity. They provide information and intelligence from the private sector that would otherwise not be visible to law enforcement. SARs can also be submitted by private individuals where they have suspicion or knowledge of money laundering or terrorist financing.

TBML Trade Based Money Laundering

Trade-based money laundering (TBML) is defined as the process of disguising the proceeds of crime and moving value through the use of trade transactions in an attempt to legitimise their illicit origins.

Themis Webinar: Fighting trade-based money laundering in the Middle East

Themis Webinar: Fighting Trade Based Money Laundering with AI

UBO Ultimate Beneficial Ownership

Refers to the natural person(s) who ultimately owns or controls a customer and/or the natural person on whose behalf a transaction is being conducted. It also includes those persons who exercise ultimate effective control over a legal person or arrangement.

The Retangling of a Web of Corporate Secrecy in the EU?

Trouble in Paradise - an interview with Award Winning Author of MoneyLand - Oliver Bullough

UWO Unexplained Wealth Order

Unexplained Wealth Orders allow for the confiscation of property without proving criminality, by reversing the burden of proof.

Ponzi Schemes

A ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment scheme where the company pays returns on investments with the capital raised from new investors, rather than from actual profits. Ponzi scheme operators entice new investors with abnormally high short-term rates of return.

The fraudster profits by either charging fees on the “investments,” or simply fleeing with investors’ funds. Ponzi schemes generally fall apart when there is not enough new capital to pay the ever-growing pool of existing investors.

Although the difference is subtle, pyramid and ponzi schemes are not the same. In a pyramid scheme, new participants are aware that they are the source of payment. In a ponzi scheme, new investors are not aware they are the source of income. Both require a constant flow of new participants.

Pyramid Scheme

A pyramid scheme is a fraudulent business model where new members are recruited to pay back existing members and must recruit new members to earn back their own investment. As the pool of members grows and the number of potential new members shrinks, the business inevitably becomes unsustainable.

Pyramid schemes are sometimes confused with multi-level marketing (MLM) practices, but MLM's are not the same.

Financial Crime

Financial crime is crime committed against property, involving the unlawful conversion of the ownership of property (belonging to one person) to one's own personal use and benefit.

Themis Webinar: Spotlight on financial crime risk in the Middle East

Themis Webinar: Tip of the Iceberg - Financial Crime in 2020

Themis Webinar: Juggling Risk - Tackling Financial crime in the Insurance Industry

Themis Webinar: Financial Crime Risks in Investment Management

Themis Briefing Notes:

Insider Fraud

Insider fraud is perpetrated by a malicious insider, which is a current or former employee, contractor, or other business partner who has or had authorised access to an organisation’s network, system, or data. It is when they intentionally exceeded or misused that access in a manner that negatively affected the confidentiality, integrity, or availability of the organisation’s information or information systems.

ML Money Laundering

Money laundering is the illegal process of making large amounts of money generated by a criminal activity, such as drug trafficking or terrorist funding, appear to have come from a legitimate source. The money from the criminal activity is considered dirty, and the process “launders” it to make it look clean.

Money laundering & terrorist financing risks in Correspondent Banking

Check out an interesting blog on Money Laundering

Podcast - Farewell to Londongrad

PF Proliferation Financing

Refers to the act of providing funds or financial services which are used, in whole or in part, for the manufacture, acquisition, possession, development, export, trans-shipment, brokering, transport, transfer, stockpiling or use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery and related materials (including both technologies and dual-use goods used for non-legitimate purposes), in contravention of national laws or, where applicable, international obligations.

Themis Podcast - Proliferation Financing 101


Regulatory compliance is when a business follows state, federal, and international laws and regulations relevant to its operations. The specific requirements can vary, depending largely on the industry and type of business.

Tax Evasion

Tax evasion is an illegal activity in which a person or entity deliberately avoids paying a true tax liability. Those caught evading taxes are generally subject to criminal charges and substantial penalties. It is not to be mistaken for tax avoidance, which if done correctly, is legal.

Themis Podcast - Trouble in Paradise - an interview with Award Winning Author of MoneyLand - Oliver Bullough

Themis Podcast - The Pandora Papers: An Interview with Senior Journalist from ICIJ

Market Abuse

The concept of market abuse typically consists of insider dealing, unlawful disclosure of inside information, and market manipulation of the financial markets which could arise from distributing false information, distorting prices or improper use of insider information. Market abuse behaviour is unlawful and prohibited.

5MLD/5AMLD/AMLD5 Fifth Money Laundering Directive

The Fifth Money Laundering Directive (5AMLD) came into force on January 10, 2020. Building on the regulatory regime applied under its predecessor, 4AMLD, 5AMLD reinforces the European Union's AML/CFT regime to address a number of emergent and ongoing issues.

Wolfsberg Group

The Wolfsberg Group is a non-governmental association of thirteen global banks. Its goal has been to develop financial industry standards for anti-money laundering (AML), know your customer (KYC) and counter terrorist financing policies (CFT).

Transaction Monitoring

Transaction monitoring refers to the monitoring of customer transactions, including assessing historical/current customer information and interactions to provide a complete picture of customer activity. This can include transfers, deposits, and withdrawals.

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