Survey Says! Sanctions compliance duties taking more time now than three years ago

Date: May 20, 2016

Sanctions compliance responsibilities take more time to perform now than they did three years ago, according to a survey of compliance professionals by conducted in April and May 2016.

The findings highlight the diverse challenges that come with sanctions compliance functions and of stricter Know Your Customer requirements regulators insist on. They also reflect the continuing changes in United States and other government sanctions programs and the increasingly risky regulatory environment. The survey showed that 53% of the respondents felt that sanctions responsibilities are more time-consuming now.

Respondents often cited concerns about the duties brought on by transaction monitoring, which is aimed at detecting prohibited parties and entities, including false positives. They expressed frustration in understanding the logic of automated sanctions screening filters and a lack of user-friendly OFAC lists.

The complexity of sanctions programs was also noted as a concern. The respondents noted a lack of clarify in what is permitted under the sanctions programs. One respondent said, “There are so many nuances to some sanctions programs, it can be confusing.”

Another survey respondent said, “I don’t feel current guidance is specific enough to help navigate.”

One person said the lack of feedback from government agencies concerning the sufficiency of compliance programs leads to compliance uncertainty. received survey results from 109 compliance practitioners worldwide, including persons who work at banks, insurers, credit unions, securities and asset managers, oil and gas, federal and state law enforcement agencies, software firms, law firms and securities dealers.

More than half (55%) the respondents had worked in the general compliance field for more than 10 years. Slightly more than one-third, 34%, spend more than half of their job responsibilities on sanctions compliance.

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