AML Analysts detect money laundering

In conversation with Medior AML Analyst Kris Soomers and Team Lead Jurjen Propsma

Keeping the financial system safe: that's what Kris Soomers and Jurjen Propsma are all about. As a Medior Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Analyst, Kris investigates transaction risks of private and corporate clients. Not on his own, of course, but as part of the well-oiled machine at Rabobank. And under the inspiring leadership of Team Lead AML Jurjen. Together, Kris and Jurjen talk about their work in Team Alerts.

Fragments of stories

“You can find out a lot about someone from bank transactions. Just look at your own account in your bank’s app. In fact, that’s where you see your life reflected in transactions.” Every day Kris dives into the transactions of people and companies. But of course never without good reason. Kris: “I do research based on alerts about money flows where something might be going on.” The alerts come from the transaction monitoring system, a kind of robot that keeps an eye on payment traffic, says Jurjen. “The system checks if a transaction falls within certain parameters. If there is an anomaly, an alert comes our way. Kris and other analysts assess whether the transaction is unusual or not.”

Kris Soomers

Safety first

What do we have to think about when we issue an alert? Jurjen explains: “During the corona lockdown, all kinds of businesses had to be closed, of course. Hairdressers, nail salons, brothels. If such a business keeps on depositing money when they should be closed, that is remarkable. Where does that money come from?”

In my way, I help keep our financial system safe. I am proud of that.
Kris Soomers

Kris: “In this case, the cash deposits were as high as in the period before the lockdown. There may be a very legitimate explanation for this, but there may also not be one. I then dive deeper into that. I call clients for clarification, then I write a report and if necessary, we notify the FIU, Financial Intelligence Unit.” Jurjen: “They can then declare our report as suspicious, and at that point it goes on to other agencies such as the FIOD, the police, the Public Prosecution Service (OM).”

Kris: “Of course, there is not always something going on. We get a glimpse into many different lives. Sometimes they are sad stories, sometimes funny and sometimes very serious. In our files, for example, we see drug dealers, illegal sex workers and clients who may be financing terrorism. That variety just makes the work very interesting. In my way, I help keep the financial system safe. I am proud to contribute to that.”

Space for own development

Besides analysing transactions, asking questions to clients and writing reports, Kris also continues to develop himself at Rabobank. “The bank offers many opportunities and possibilities for further development. Also in skills that are not directly related to your work.”

“I recently gave a course to colleagues on OSINT, Open Source Intelligence. What is the best way to collect data and information from public sources? It is about looking beyond the obvious. I like to share knowledge and take on many similar tasks. I have also recently become a board member of the Kleurrijk Rabo network.” Suddenly there is a loud beep from Kris’ phone. It turns out to be a FAFS alarm. Laughing: “Yes, I do that too!”

Jurjen: “I let people do their own thing. I want to use the unique talents in my team. If you do what you are really good at, you will enjoy your work more. I see that reflected in the engagement scan, our internal check on how employees feel. I think this positive trend exists because employees in this department really get every opportunity to develop themselves.”

“For everyone in my team I have a development path in mind. Team Alerts is part of a bigger picture and if you want to grow, you can do anything as an analyst. A new role within AML, or within KYC Tech or the KCY Expertise Centre for example.”

Steam course for newcomers

New colleagues in the AML department start the development path with a 3.5-month training. Jurjen: “We are working on a new internal training on money laundering. The first six weeks consist of theory: what is money laundering, what do we look for, what are the rules, what are the risks? You then work on analyses in focused sprints for two months. Under the guidance of coaches and money-laundering experts, you will deal with a new topic each time. You will also learn how we cooperate with other teams within the KYC field. This is how we prepare you to work independently as an analyst.”

You can't automate the real thinking. We need good people for that.
Jurjen Propsma

The internal training is made especially for new colleagues. Jurjen: “Combating financial crime is a top priority at the bank, and to do this work, good analysts are indispensable. We are looking for quite a few people! The systems are becoming smarter and smarter, they take the unnecessary work out of your hands. But you can’t automate the real thinking. We need good people for that. New people, but also colleagues from other departments can help us. They often bring valuable knowledge that really comes in handy as an AML Analyst.”