Negative Media Screening: A Key Component in Your AML/CTF Defence Strategy

What is negative media (adverse media) screening?

Negative media (adverse media) screening is a critical process organisations employ to identify any adverse or potentially damaging information about individuals or entities during the due diligence process. It involves the systematic search and analysis of a wide range of media sources, including newspapers, online news portals, magazines, and social media platforms, to uncover negative reports or mentions that could indicate a risk associated with a particular customer or partner. This might include involvement in financial crimes, such as money laundering, fraud, or terrorism financing, as well as other activities that could harm an organisation's reputation or compliance standing.

The essence of negative media screening lies in its ability to provide a comprehensive view of the risks posed by associating with certain individuals or entities. By flagging negative information early in the customer relationship, organisations can take proactive steps to mitigate these risks, ensuring they maintain compliance with regulatory requirements and uphold their reputation in the market.

Why is negative media screening important?

Negative media screening holds significant importance for several reasons, particularly for organisations operating within regulated sectors such as banking, finance, and legal services. Unlike PEP, Sanctions, or Criminal Watchlist screenings, negative media screening serves as a leading indicator or trigger for identifying customers at higher risk due to negative or potentially damaging information, before they appear on any official adverse or high-risk lists. Here are the key reasons why negative media screening is essential:

  • Regulatory Compliance: Many jurisdictions require entities to conduct due diligence on their customers and partners to prevent money laundering and terrorist financing. Negative media screening helps organisations meet these regulatory obligations by identifying risks that may not be evident through traditional checks.
  • Reputation Management: Associating with individuals or entities involved in controversial or illegal activities can severely damage an organisation's reputation. Negative media screening enables organisations to manage their reputational risk by avoiding associations that could lead to negative publicity.
  • Risk Mitigation: By identifying potential risks early in the customer relationship, organisations can implement measures to mitigate these risks. This could involve enhanced monitoring, additional due diligence, or deciding not to engage with the customer or partner at all.
  • Operational Integrity: Negative media screening helps ensure that an organisation's operations are not inadvertently supporting illegal or unethical activities. This is crucial for maintaining operational integrity and trust with stakeholders, including customers, employees, and regulators.
  • Competitive Advantage: Organisations that demonstrate a commitment to thorough due diligence processes, including negative media screening, can differentiate themselves in the market. This commitment to ethical practices and compliance can be a competitive advantage, attracting customers who value transparency and integrity.

Negative media screening as part of Enhanced Customer Due Diligence

Negative media screening is an important element of Enhanced Customer Due Diligence (ECDD). ECDD is a more detailed level of due diligence applied to customers who are assessed as presenting a higher risk of money laundering, terrorist financing, or other financial crimes. This process is critical for managing and mitigating risks associated with high-risk customers and ensuring regulatory compliance. Incorporating negative media screening into ECDD involves several key aspects:

  • Identification of High-Risk Individuals and Entities: Negative media screening helps in the identification of high-risk customers by revealing any adverse media mentions that suggest involvement in activities that could pose a reputational or compliance risk to the organisation.
  • Comprehensive Risk Assessment: By examining a wide array of media sources for negative information, organisations can gain a more comprehensive understanding of the risk profile of their customers. This information is crucial for tailoring the level of due diligence and monitoring to the specific risks posed by each customer.
  • Monitoring for Changes in Risk Profile: Negative media screening is not a one-time activity but a continuous process, especially under ECDD. Regular screening helps organisations keep up-to-date with any new developments or adverse media mentions that could affect the risk assessment of a customer.
  • Documenting Findings and Decision-Making: The findings from negative media screening contribute to the overall risk assessment documentation required under ECDD. This documentation supports decision-making processes related to customer acceptance, account opening, and the nature of ongoing monitoring that will be required.
  • Enhanced Scrutiny of Transactions: Negative media findings may lead to enhanced scrutiny of a customer's transactions to identify any patterns or activities that are inconsistent with the customer's profile or indicate potential illicit behaviour.

Negative media screening as part of Ongoing Customer Due Diligence

Negative media screening plays a crucial role in the Ongoing Customer Due Diligence (OCDD) process, serving as a dynamic tool for continuously assessing the risk profile of existing customers. OCDD is essential for maintaining a current understanding of a customer's activities and ensuring that these activities align with their known profile and risk category. The inclusion of negative media screening in OCDD involves several key components:

  • Continuous Monitoring: Negative media screening is conducted on a regular basis as part of OCDD to identify any new adverse information that emerges after the initial customer onboarding phase. This ongoing screening helps in detecting changes in a customer's risk profile or activities that may necessitate a reevaluation of their risk level.
  • Updating Customer Profiles: Information obtained from negative media screening is used to update customer profiles, ensuring that the organisation's risk assessment remains accurate and current. This process includes revisiting the customer's risk category and adjusting due diligence measures accordingly.
  • Trigger Events: The discovery of adverse media mentions may act as a trigger event, prompting a more thorough investigation into the customer's activities. This could involve revisiting the source of funds, the nature of transactions, and the purpose of the customer's relationship with the organisation.
  • Decision Support: Findings from ongoing negative media screening provide valuable insights that support decision-making processes related to the continuation, modification, or termination of a business relationship. This ensures that decisions are based on the most current information available.
  • Regulatory Compliance and Reporting: Continuous monitoring through negative media screening helps organisations comply with regulatory requirements for ongoing due diligence and reporting. This includes the ability to detect and report suspicious activities in a timely manner.
  • Reputational Protection: By proactively identifying and addressing potential risks through negative media screening, organisations can protect themselves against reputational damage that could arise from associations with customers involved in illegal or unethical activities.

How can you perform negative media screening?

Performing negative media screening involves a series of steps designed to systematically identify and assess adverse information about individuals or entities. Here's how organisations can carry out this crucial process:

  • Define Criteria for Negative Information: Establish clear criteria for what constitutes negative media. This might include involvement in financial crimes, legal disputes, regulatory sanctions, or any other information that could indicate reputational or compliance risks.
  • Select Appropriate Sources: Identify a wide range of media sources for screening, including online news outlets, industry publications, social media platforms, and databases that specialise in legal and financial records. The selection of sources should be broad enough to capture a comprehensive view of the subject's media presence.
  • Utilise Advanced Search Tools: Leverage advanced search tools and technologies to scan the selected sources efficiently. Keywords and phrases related to the specific risks of interest (e.g., "fraud," "money laundering," "sanctions") can be used to filter and identify relevant articles or mentions.
  • Conduct Manual Review and Analysis: While automation can increase efficiency, a manual review is crucial for verifying the relevance and accuracy of the identified matches. This involves evaluating the context of each mention, assessing its reliability, and determining its significance in relation to the defined risk criteria.
  • Document Findings and Decisions: Maintain detailed records of the screening process, including the sources checked, the information found, and any decisions made based on this information. Documentation is essential for demonstrating compliance with regulatory requirements and for supporting future decision-making processes.
  • Regularly Update Screening Processes: The media landscape and available information sources are constantly evolving. Regularly review and update the screening criteria, sources, and tools to ensure the process remains effective and aligned with current risks and regulatory expectations.
  • Integrate Screening into Due Diligence Workflows: Negative media screening should be integrated into broader due diligence and risk management workflows. This ensures that adverse media findings are considered alongside other risk factors in the assessment of customers and partners.

Automate your negative media screening with bronID

At bronID, we've automated the approach to negative media screening. Our technology seamlessly incorporates the rigorous steps of negative media screening that organisations traditionally performed manually, offering a streamlined, efficient solution. This automation covers the entire spectrum of Customer Due Diligence (CDD), Enhanced Customer Due Diligence (ECDD), and Ongoing Customer Due Diligence (OCDD) processes, ensuring that negative media screening is an integral part of your due diligence workflow from start to finish.

Our tool is designed to automate the scanning of a wide array of media sources, employing advanced algorithms to sift through vast amounts of data, identifying relevant negative mentions that align with predefined criteria. This includes everything from the initial definition of negative information criteria and the selection of appropriate sources to the utilisation of advanced search tools and the execution of detailed analyses.

Negative media screening with bronID

How does bronID perform negative media screening and what is included?

bronID employs a sophisticated approach to performing negative media screening of individuals and organisations, ensuring that organisations have access to comprehensive, relevant, and accurate information about their customers. Here's how bronID accomplishes this task and what is included in the process:

Curated List of Data Sources: bronID has developed an extensive list of thousands of reputable data sources. This includes press releases from regulators, news articles, press releases from international bodies, court filings, transcripts of court proceedings, and investigative journalist articles. Importantly, our list also encompasses articles that may sit behind a paywall, ensuring that no critical information is overlooked due to access restrictions. This list is meticulously curated to exclude speculative data sources or opinions that are biased, focusing solely on credible and reliable information.

Comprehensive Search and Analysis: When an organisation performs a negative media check with bronID, we conduct a thorough search of the customer's name in our vast database. This search is not limited to the customer's name but also includes other relevant triggers such as "money laundering," "terrorism financing," and predicate offences, along with any other adverse findings. This ensures that the screening process is both comprehensive and targeted, capturing a broad spectrum of potential risks.

Sentiment Analysis and Summary Report: Upon identifying a match, bronID undertakes an analysis of the retrieved text, assessing its sentiment to gauge the severity and relevance of the information. Our system then automatically compiles a summary of what has been detected, providing a clear and concise overview of the negative media findings.

Detailed Reference List: Alongside the summary report, bronID provides a list of articles and sources where the negative information was found. This allows organisations to refer to and inspect these sources further, offering the opportunity for a deeper dive into the context and details of the adverse findings.

How can you get started?

You can schedule a free consultation with one of our representatives, who will guide you through a comprehensive demo and offer a tailored approach suited to your organisation's needs.

Written by
Emma Poposka
Certified AML/CTF Specialist

Stay informed about recent events and get regulatory updates to your inbox.