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Banks worldwide sharply hike spending to combat money laundering

Banks around the world have spent an average of 58% more to combat money laundering over the last three years, a survey said Monday.

Senior managers are focusing more on anti-money laundering measures, said the latest KPMG International study based on 224 banks from 55 countries. Spending rose by 71% in North America, the highest, and 70% in the Middle East and Africa. Compliance costs by banks increased 60% in Russia, 59% in Central and South America, 58% in Europe and 37% in Asia, said the findings commissioned by the Swiss cooperative.

Money laundering flows each year by drug dealers, arms traffickers and other criminals are estimated to exceed $1 trillion. Compliance with anti-money laundering standards is considered a top priority by senior management, including the boards of directors of banks. Of those surveyed, 71% said that their top executives take an active interest, compared with 61% in 2004. Banks expect to spend nearly 34% more over the next three years on measures such as monitoring transactions and training staff to fight money laundering, the survey said.

Two-thirds of banks in the Asia-Pasific region regarded the issue as a top priority, up from 49% three years ago. (