Global affairs are pushing regulatory requirements towards a universal need for multilingual sanctions screening

Historically, sanction lists contained names transliterated into Latin characters. Recently the common practice took a turn, and currently most sanction lists provide both transliterated names and names written in their original scripts.

  • UN consolidated lists and EU sanction lists display names in their original scripts (Russian, Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Ukrainian, etc.)
  • UK lists have recently included names in Russian and Arabic.
  • SWISS list with 8 different languages
  • OFAC has expanded its lists with Cyrillic (Russian, Ukrainian, etc.) names

These are just a few examples.

Clear Golbal Trend: Screening Names in Original Sripts

There’s a growing trend in global regulations toward enhancing AML compliance accuracy, and the regulating authorities are increasingly emphasizing the importance of using precise original name representations for more functional AML compliance. While this approach offers significant potential for precise name matching, the limitations of current technologies make it a challenging goal to achieve.

Why is it important to screen names in original scripts?

There are no universally accepted rules for transliteration. 
Therefore, no transliterated name can be 100% reliable for AML screening.

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The regulators send a clear signal that the current request for screening names in their original scripts is becoming a Global requirement.

This is to ensure that transliteration variations do not obscure the picture and that no romanization is required in the process.

What to avoid when choosing your next Sanctions Screening technological solution?

Avoid systems uncapable of screening names directly in their original languages, relying on romanization transliteration technologies to convert names into Latin characters. Such lead to False Negatives (“Missed Hits”), or on the flip side, in order not to miss, you are forced to cast a wide net that generates multiple probabilities, which will end up in multiple False Positives. Romanization ends up with a wrong name.

What to look for?

Sanction screening solutions must be capable of directly screening the names, individual or entities, in their original languages “as is,” not using a third language (Latin script) as an intermediary.

At the very least, such system needs to be capable of screening names in Cyrillic script (Russian, Ukrainian, etc.), Chinese, Korean, and Arabic.

As conflicts and terrorism persist, more individuals and companies face sanctions, highlighting the critical need for strict compliance with regulations to prevent funds from reaching sanctioned parties. Regulatory bodies have tightened not only the rules but also the oversight of compliance, leaving no room for mistakes.

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