Onsite and offsite evidence gathering are two distinct processes that investigators can use to collect evidence during an investigation. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of which to use depends on the specific circumstances of the case.
The onsite evidence-gathering process means obtaining data, information, facts, and other necessary detail about the transaction, by visiting the branch or particular office location, where such data, information, or evidence is placed. This may require a discussion of the facts with other officials deputed at different offices or branch locations.
The offsite evidence-gathering process means performing of review and analysis of a transaction and customer-related information, such as the know your customer (KYC) profile, by the compliance team in the AML compliance system.
Onsite and Offsite Evidence Gathering Process for Investigations
Evidence means any information or data used to understand the facts and investigate the fraud incident. The gathering of evidence is one of the most important parts of fraud identification and investigation. This article elaborates on the ‘Gathering of Evidence’ against fraud. AML compliance team needs to gather different types of evidence for both the onsite and off-site investigations. For off-site investigation, some evidence may be readily available to the AML investigation team, such as AML/CFT policies, customer onboarding policy, sanctions policy, prohibited customer policy, and related procedures.
Onsite and offsite evidence gathering decision depends on various factors, and circumstances, including the nature of the transaction, significance of transaction, type of customer, high-risk or normal, beneficiaries involved, source of funds, availability of updated KYC profile of the customer, etc.
Further, applicable policies, procedures, laws, and regulations are considered, to develop the evidence-gathering approach, because there might be the cases where compliance team may need to coordinate with relevant stakeholders within the institution, to gather the necessary evidence, that the compliance team may not have itself such as in the cases of inward and outward foreign remittances or foreign exchange transactions, compliance team may need to coordinate with branches for necessary information and details.
All the above broader evidence-gathering-related factors need to be considered by the compliance investigation team, before deciding on the evidence-gathering approach and process.
The AML investigation team works as per the defined investigation programs. The purpose of which is to obtain sufficient and appropriate evidence related to suspicious transactions. Different evidence sources are explored by the AML investigation team to gather appropriate evidence including taking direct interviews with suspects, interviews of colleagues of the suspect, observation of the behavior of the employee, walkthroughs of transactions and systems, third-party confirmations, or physical checks.
In the information and evidence-gathering process, it must be ensured that the case is not made very complicated to investigate. The right approach and selection of the right sources of shreds of evidence make the investigation process logical and result oriented.
All the data or information gathered from different sources and through different techniques are required to be appropriately recorded sequentially and logically, and the shreds of evidence gathered need to be corroborated with each other. Therefore, the presentation and recording of AML suspicious transaction-related evidence are important parts of performing transaction investigations.
For off-site investigations, the direct evidence related to the suspicious transaction is evidence, gathered by the AML investigation team, directly before performing investigation procedures such as information gathered through interviewing the suspect or observation of employee behaviour.
AML team may gather electronic or paper-based evidence. In today’s digital environment, the audit trail is maintained by institutions in the form of electronic records using personal computers and other electronic devices. In the electronic environment, the AML investigation team performs computer forensic investigations through the seizure and analysis of electronic data. Legislations allow the use of computer forensic investigations as an important part of the whole AML investigation because it has an impact on an institution’s ability to investigate suspicious transactions.
Direct evidence is considered more valuable evidence because it is directly obtained by the experts because of appropriate planning and a directly approaching to the evidence. There is a possibility that direct evidence is obtained without performing any specific evidence-gathering procedure such as information about the fraud may be provided by the customer or the company against the employee or the suspect may surrender him or herself before the AML investigation team and provide all relevant information. This occurs when the person who committed the fraud feels fear of punishment which he or she may be awarded on the proof of the fraud.
Overall, the choice of whether to use onsite or offsite evidence gathering depends on the specific circumstances of the case, including the nature of the incident, the availability of resources, and the goals of the investigation. In many cases, a combination of both onsite and offsite evidence gathering may be the most effective approach to collecting evidence and conducting a thorough investigation.