Fighting Money Laundering with Statistics and Machine Learning: An Introduction and Review

Rasmus Jensen, Alexandros Iosifidis

Money laundering is a profound, global problem. Nonetheless, there is little statistical and machine learning research on the topic. In this paper, we focus on anti-money laundering in banks. To help organize existing research in the field, we propose a unifying terminology and provide a review of the literature. This is structured around two central tasks: (i) client risk profiling and (ii) suspicious behavior flagging. We find that client risk profiling is characterized by diagnostics, i.e., efforts to find and explain risk factors. Suspicious behavior flagging, on the other hand, is characterized by non-disclosed features and hand-crafted risk indices. Finally, we discuss directions for future research. One major challenge is the lack of public data sets. This may, potentially, be addressed by synthetic data generation. Other possible research directions include semi-supervised and deep learning, interpretability and fairness of the results.

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