Criminals are continuing to exploit regulatory and supervisory gaps in global supply chains, despite increasing efforts to counter them. Big data could prove a vital weapon in battling the perpetrators.
Last year, global household brand Nestlé went public with the news that it had found forced labor in its supply chains, while Samsung and Panasonic faced allegations that factory workers were being mistreated in Malaysia.
This is in spite of these companies having strong governance and strict rules on supplier behavior.
The wrongdoers are clearly motivated by the huge rewards on offer, with the International Labour Organization (ILO) estimating that forced labor alone generates US$150 billion in illegal profits per year.
At the same time, it can be a costly experience for businesses, who can face harsh regulatory action, financial penalties and significant loss of reputation.
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Getting a better view
Part of the problem is that global supply chains are vulnerable by their very nature, with crimes often carried out by third parties many thousand miles away from the company’s main activities.
The big challenge here is to understand, identify and monitor all the parties and connections involved in a company’s ecosystem, all the way from the smallest supplier to the end consumer.
Big Data can play a vital role, according to a recent report, Big Data — a Twenty-First Century Arms Race, published jointly by Thomson Reuters and The Atlantic Council, a leading American think tank in the field of international affairs.
The growing role of Big Data
By enabling organizations to quickly model massive volumes of structured and unstructured data from multiple sources, Big Data can increase visibility and provide deeper insights into the entire supply chain.
Artificial intelligence can help to explore hidden relationships by gathering information from internal databases and systems, internet-based sources and social media.
This can not only exclude undesirable individuals and companies from supply chains, but help banks and enforcement agencies detect suspicious activity and trace illegal revenues.
Big Data is not only opening the door for new ways of detecting and mitigating threats, it is also helping to streamline and accelerate existing processes. That’s because it can increase the speed and efficiency with which all data can be collected, stored and analysed.
The right information
A proven database, such as Thomson Reuters World-Check for risk intelligence, is a must-have for uncovering connections and associations.
World-Check makes sense of vast amounts of open source information, which can be used to uncover instances of human trafficking and slavery, while also reducing the risks of bribery and other financial crimes.
The monitoring of more than 600 sanctions, watch, regulatory and enforcement lists and applying the appropriate keywords to these profiles, as well as many other advanced features, all assist our clients to drill down and filter across varying permutations to expose risk.
While the battle to keep criminals out of global supply chains may never be over, having the right tools can definitely help the fight against crime.
Continue the conversation around financial crime by registering for our London event on 17th October. Join David Craig, President, Financial & Risk, Thomson Reuters, Axel Threlfall , Editor-at-Large, Reuters and Paul Radu, Executive Director at the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), to hear how his team of investigative journalists uncovered the biggest money laundering scams – the Global Laundromats.