AML Compliance

Understanding Negative News and Negative News Screening

Understanding negative news and negative news screening is an important part of AML due diligence.

Editorial Team
June 3, 2024

Have you heard the saying, no news is good news? It’s certainly true when it comes to compliance and financial due diligence. Adverse media screening, also called negative news screening, is a crucial part of Anti-Money Laundering (AML) compliance. 

Negative news screening helps uncover negative information about potential customers that might not be found in official databases. This could include allegations of fraud, corruption, human trafficking, money laundering, or involvement in criminal activity. 

Here's an example: A bank might be considering onboarding a new client or business partners. Standard AML checks don't reveal any issues. But through negative news screening, they discover articles alleging the client's involvement in financial misconduct in their home country. These information prompts the bank to investigate further and potentially refuse the client's business, protecting themselves from financial and reputational risks.

Let’s take a closer look. 

Understanding Negative News and Sanctions

Negative news, also known as adverse media, is a critical component in the due diligence process. It refers to any negative news or information about an individual or entity that could indicate potential risk or threat. This could range from involvement in financial crime to political controversies. 

For financial institutions, it's a vital tool in identifying potential risks and threats. Financial institutions are required to conduct due diligence on their clients to identify potential risks and threats. This includes checking if a client is on any sanctions list. If a client is found to be sanctioned, it's a red flag that they may pose a risk to the institution.

Negative news, or adverse media, can provide additional context to economic and trade sanctions. Any negative or unfavorable information uncovered can reveal the reasons behind the sanctions, helping institutions better understand the potential risk and threat. This is why negative news and sanctions screening go hand-in-hand for any organisation adopting a risk based approach.

The financial institution also needs to consider their own reputation. Damaging information about an individual, organisation, or entity they do business with can play a key role in shaping public perception. This is particularly true for financial institutions, where trust and credibility are paramount. A single news article from a credible source can cause a ripple effect, leading to a loss of customer confidence and potential regulatory scrutiny. The impact of such damaging information can be far-reaching, affecting not just the individual organization but the entire financial sector.

The Adverse Media Screening Process

Negative news screening is a comprehensive process that involves the analysis of a vast array of data sources. The aim is to reveal any connection a business partner or vendor may have with illicit activities such as crime or corruption. The process begins with the collection of data from various sources. This data is then analysed to identify any negative news that may indicate potential involvement in illicit activities. 

Negative news screening software uses a combination of technology and human expertise to automate and improve the efficiency of negative news checks. Here's a breakdown of how it works:

1. The software scans a vast amount of online news sources, including traditional publications, social media, and even blogs, searching for mentions of the person or organization being screened.

2. It checks against government sanctions lists to identify any matches.

3. It may access public court records and other databases for relevant information.

Screening software usually looks for pre-defined keywords and phrases related to money laundering, fraud, and other suspicious activities. It may also use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze the context and sentiment of the information found, going beyond just keyword matching. This helps identify potential red flags even if specific keywords aren't present. It will identify and connect mentions of the person or organisation being screened, even if their name appears with variations or nicknames.

The adverse media screening software generates alerts when it finds potentially negative information that matches pre-defined criteria. Trained analysts can then review the flagged information to assess its credibility and determine its relevance to the AML risk assessment. They apply human judgment to differentiate between factual reports and rumors or irrelevant content.

While this software is still a lot more effective than manual human-led screening, it can generate a large volume of false positives

Understanding False Positives in Negative News Screening AML

False positives in adverse media searches can be a thorn in the side for many institutions. They occur when the screening tool flags a potential media risk that, upon further investigation, turns out to be irrelevant or incorrect. 

The key to understanding false positives lies in the data aggregation process of your adverse media checks. Screening tools often pull information from multiple sources, and sometimes, the data can be misinterpreted or taken out of context. This is where human expertise comes into play.

Professionals can identify patterns and nuances that a screening tool might miss, helping institutions to better manage false positives. It's a necessary step in maintaining a solid reputation and building customer trust.

Make sure to use a screening tool that utilises multiple sources of data. This approach can identify patterns and reduce the likelihood of false positives.

Secondly, combine your automated screening efforts with human expertise. A tool can only do so much. Having a team of experts who understand the nuances of media risk and can interpret the data is a necessary step. They can sift through the negative information and discern what is truly a threat to your institution's reputation.

Wrapping Up: The Importance of Negative News Screening

Negative news screening plays a key role in identifying potential risks and threats to financial institutions. It's a necessary step in due diligence, helping to reveal connections to financial crime, corruption, and other illicit activities. The damaging information about individuals or entities found in news articles and various sources can indicate potential involvement in such activities, posing a significant reputational risk.

The use of advanced screening tools, data aggregation from multiple sources, and the combination of human expertise with technological tools, can help institutions identify patterns and manage false positives effectively. This not only protects the reputation of the institution but also maintains customer trust.

When choosing a negative news screening solution, make sure to partner with a company like (we are currently operating a BETA program) that is committed to reducing false positives and ensuring the most accurate results.

Adverse Media Screening BETA Program

We are happy to announce the beta launch of our new Adverse Media Screening feature. If you are interested in taking part, please contact our Customer Success Team.

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Editorial Team
This article was put together by the expert editorial team.
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