Lieke Dix, Forensic Technology Consultant, on the thrill of tracking down fraud and corruption and solving complex issues. ‘I want to determine what really happened.’
‘How amazing is it to track down sophisticated criminals?’ 26-year-old Lieke Dix’ eyes light up when she starts talking about her work. A year and half ago her strong sense of justice and her interest in technology, data and all things digital brought the freshly graduated criminologist Dix to KPMG.
Dix collaborated on the development of a Sanctions List Monitoring software solution enabling companies to screen parties with whom they want to do business. It is illegal to work with individuals, organizations or countries that appear on lists of sanctioned parties. All over the world there are lists of sanctioned parties, compiled by governments and organizations such as the European Union. There are lists of organizations and individuals who are subject to financial limitations, lists of terrorist organizations and of individuals whose assets have been frozen.
Dix: ‘We have developed a solution with which we can rapidly check corporate entities and individuals against selected lists of sanctioned parties. As soon as a name pops up of a sanctioned person or a sanctioned company, the client receives an alert. International legislation aimed at tackling corruption and terrorism is constantly evolving. Regulators are becoming ever stricter and more effective at enforcement. When our solutions prevent a transaction with a ‘sanctioned business partner’ we save them from being fined millions of dollars.’
Sanctions List Monitoring and Astrus are examples of KPMG solutions aimed at helping companies navigate the jungle of international business practices. They help with things like making sense of risks such as a supplier’s insolvency leading to non-delivery of goods, supply chain risks including delayed delivery and so on, and the risk of illegally doing business with sanctioned parties.
Using Astrus you can access over 40,000 digital sources – databanks, websites, email and phone details – and screen entities and individuals.
Dix: ‘We can show the structure of a company, who its shareholders are and whether it includes a so-called PEP: a Politically Exposed Person. For many companies this is a reason to conduct further research because of the elevated levels of risk involved if you are dealing with a PEP.
‘We recently saw that a national leader had a 99% interest in a government company in his own country. The question was whether this was a personal interest or an interest linked to his office. This is a typical example of information you can only find out if you know the country and its business community from the inside. The advantage of our global network is that we can immediately contact local colleagues who are privy to this knowledge and information.’
Predicting that a company will no longer be able to pay its bills in six months’ time is not yet possible, but it’s not unthinkable that this will be in the realm of possibilities in the future. Dix: ‘There are intelligent software solutions that can find out how a company performed in the past and how it is performing now. You could make reasonable predictions by analysing that data.’
In the past, regulators primarily focused on financial institutes but now they are also looking at mid-market enterprises and the corporates too. This is an important development which KMPG is well-equipped to respond to, says Dix: ‘By computerizing our knowledge we can offer it more widely for a lower price, including to smaller businesses.’
In answer to the question of where her professional field is headed, she doesn’t have to think for long. ‘The inventiveness with which criminals operate is developing rapidly. Their approach is becoming more and more advanced and their activities are increasingly difficult to identify. This means technological solutions are only going to become more important and more impactful. It can’t get complex enough for me, though. Finding the truth is the most enjoyable thing there is.’