Business fraud is at an all-time high, so checking your clients out – both existing and potential – has never been so important.
And while comprehensive background checking and accurate due diligence is more cost-effective than ever, you’re going to need trusted people on the ground if you really want to know who’s who, and what they’re all about…
Two years ago, a survey conducted by Kroll showed 30 per cent of respondents reported the global financial crisis had increased the levels of fraud at their organisations, while 85 per cent said their company had suffered at least one fraud in the last three years. Fast forward to 2011 and the annual cost of business fraud to the American economy has hit a record $700 billion to $1 trillion, while costing the UK economy $62 billion a year.
That’s where Swiss-based Worldbox Business Intelligence’s leading search and background checking service comes in, with additional bureaus in London, Hong Kong, and India; providing collaborative co-ordination and extended coverage thanks to an extended network of hand-picked local partners.
With Worldbox, businesses can verify the identities, backgrounds, financial statements and track histories of prospective and existing clients rapidly, be they companies or individuals, all from one source, and screen them against databases including Politically Exposed Persons (PEP) lists, sanction lists and individual ID verification sources.
In some areas of business it has even become law to conduct such checks prior to starting a working relationship. In financial circles, firms must now provide evidence that they’ve taken all reasonable steps to Know Your Customer, to comply with FSA guidelines around Anti-Money Laundering; this may feasibly include identifying and recording PEP connections.
Politically Exposed Persons are considered high risk in today’s regulatory environment. Regulation requires enhanced due diligence when conducting business with them, particularly when they become part of private banking. Heavy fines have been imposed on financial institutions that have conducted business with PEPs without following adequate Know Your Customer procedures and enhanced due diligence processes.
PEPs can generally be described as: a current or former senior official in the executive, legislative, administrative, military, or judicial branch of a foreign government (elected or not); a senior official of a major foreign political party; a senior executive of a foreign government-owned commercial enterprise being a corporation, business or other entity formed by or for the benefit of any such individual; an immediate family member of such individual; meaning spouse, parents, siblings, children, and spouse’s parents or siblings or any individual publicly-known (or actually known by the relevant financial institution) to be a close personal or professional associate.
Zurich-based Worldbox’s global PEP services cover more than 240 countries and most languages which provide profiles of Politically Exposed Persons, their family members and close associates.
Worldbox is additionally a quality provider for International Company Information, International Document Retrieval, Due Diligence and KYC Support covering all emerging and major markets. And as well as being crucial to the fields of Law and Corporate Finance, these are also essential services for Sales Departments, Client Development, Marketing, Accounting and Research.
“Finding international company registries is sometimes difficult and time-consuming and to locate the right company for which the information is required, you need to conduct research at the registries or in some countries to send a local representative to obtain copies from the registry or view them on the registry premises,” Worldbox CEO Adrian Ashurst explains.
“We offer a complete service that ensures you can find the information you need on companies in even the most obscure jurisdictions.”
Worldbox’s Legal Document Retrieval offers all of its customers the ability to order official hardcopies of Company Legal Documents direct from local registries anywhere in the world, including: the British Virgin Islands, China, Russia, Hong Kong, Switzerland, and others. Types of documentation obtainable include: Certifications of Incorporation, Articles, Annual Returns, Filed Accounts, Company Registry Extracts, and Mortgage Extracts.
Worldbox can also arrange to certify, notarise and obtain an apostille on documents (where papers issued by one country must be authenticated before they can be legally recognised as valid in a foreign country). All documents are delivered to clients in their original local languages, or can be translated into any other language on special request.
These essential services streamline anti-money laundering checks and identity verification processes, reducing the time and effort required to undertake comprehensive due diligence checks and improve the client acceptance process.
“There is no need to pay out for a full investigation service anymore,” Ashurst adds. We are many times more cost-effective than hiring an investigation agency.”
Long-standing Worldbox client Charles J. Carter, CEO of the international and domestic business investigations agency, North American Advisory, agrees…
“We conduct worldwide investigations for major US-based hotels, on companies and individuals who have a desire to form partnerships with them. It is necessary we identify undesirable prospective partners and eliminate undue embarrassment and the cost of lengthy litigation for our clients. Worldbox has a thorough network of investigators and in the seven years we have sent requests to them for investigations throughout the world, including in very remote areas, they have, without exception, been able to provide the needed information.”
Examples of documents Worldbox has recently retrieved for other customers include Certificates of Incorporation and Certificates of Good Standing for companies in the British Virgin Islands; Full statutory documents and Director Reports in China; Land Register and Continuing Registration Certificates in Hong Kong; and, Company Register Extracts in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.
Their world-leading document retrieval is aided by its extensive and discrete network of ground contacts: enabling clients to identify beneficial owners in European, US and emerging markets.
Ground contacts are one of the most essential parts of the service, as they know how the wheels of bureaucracy turn in their home countries and are well positioned to provide quality information held only in paper form, as well as electronically, thanks to their direct access to local company registries. This is a key part of handling cross-border business enquiries, giving additional assurance and often flagging risks that other information suppliers with no local presence can miss.
Worldbox also offers comprehensive English and non-English news coverage from 15,000 international news sources giving customers the best resources for conducting enhanced due diligence and minimising risk to reputation.
Company searches can be made at www.worldbox.co.uk, and special requests can be filed via the contact page, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org where they are received by a dedicated Worldbox account manager.
Customer accounts are quickly opened online, subject to completion of a short application form, with access details emailed back within seconds. Online accounts then enable full access to Worldbox’s diverse suite of services, and all orders placed consequently are charged to a client account, which is invoiced monthly. Clients are also given the option to be charged on a pay-as-you-go basis, via credit card.
For resellers of document retrieval services, Worldbox offers a white label gateway and delivery services via an exclusive hosted webpage for third-party customers to access.
Probing Questions for Identifying a Good Lead
·How do you deal with verifying the identity of companies from emerging markets where registration data is not available online?
·How do you go about verifying the status of directors of international companies?
·What procedures do you have in place for conducting due diligence on companies outside your usual jurisdictions?
Worldbox Business Intelligence provides worldwide commercial information that meets the diverse needs of clients. Credit reports to assist credit and supplier risk, Research Services providing company documents, investigated reports, Due Diligence services providing unique research on companies worldwide and Publications for specifically-researched sectors and cross-border business development.
Worldbox Business Intelligence is an independent service, providing online company credit reports, company profiles, company ownership and management reports, legal status and history details and financial and other business information on more than 50 million companies worldwide, covering all emerging and major markets.
Worldbox Business Information Division is part of the Worldbox Group of companies with headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland (http://www.worldbox.ch) and subsidiaries in the United Kingdom (http://www.worldbox.co.uk) and Asia.