As a leading regional firm, AB Compliance is a boutique compliance consultancy firm, with international clientele, providing high quality support to local and international firms. Guided by our core values of competence and integrity at AB Compliance we operate with the fundamental philosophy that every client deserves exceptional and timely services from our knowledgeable professionals. Our multi-disciplinary team provides AML and general compliance services to obliged entities internationally which amongst others include audit firms, insurance firms, gambling companies, financial institutions, investment firms, administrative service provides, alternative investment funds etc. acting honestly, fairly and professionally in accordance with their best interests.
The scope of AB Compliance’s high quality, specialized services is to fulfill the compliance needs of obliged persons and organizations, as required by the subject matter of the applicable law. Through our services we identify, evaluate and understand the risks involved in different sectors and industries and we provide guidance to obliged persons/entities in fulfilling their obligations under the laws and regulations on the prevention and suppression of money laundering and terrorist financing.
Financial crime is one of the biggest and most important challenges facing companies today. At AB Compliance we understand the range of that challenges and with our AML regulatory advisory expertise seek innovative ways to help companies meet the growing regulatory requirements. The complexity of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing requirements and the ever-changing landscape of AML make it necessary to adapt and enhance the internal procedures of the obliged regulated persons. Therefore, a crucial element in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing is the establishment and implementation of the necessary procedures and policies by the companies themselves.
Our services in this area include the following:
Monitoring and Assessment
Monitoring and assessment of the effectiveness of the policies, practices, measures, procedures and controls applied for the prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing. As part of these services AB Compliance may conduct physical visits to the client and evaluate the client’s relevant procedures and records. After the completion of the evaluation process a relevant corrective action plan will be proposed.
Review, update and re-drafting of the Internal Anti – Money Laundering Manual
Tailor-made preparation/update of the Anti–Money Laundering Manual of the obliged entity to eliminate deficiencies and to keep up to date with any changes and updates of the Law.
Internal Anti-Money Laundering Audit Function for Obliged Entities
- Assessment and evaluation of the obliged entity’s foundation for internal procedures and internal controls.
- Review and examination of the adequacy of the obliged entity’s acceptance procedures.
- Review of the obliged entity’s compliance with its business obligations when providing administrative services.
- Review and evaluation of the compliance of the obliged entity’s different departments with the relevant regulatory framework.
- Provision of independent assurance to the Board of Directors and Senior Management on the quality and effectiveness of the obliged entity’s internal control, risk management and governance systems and processes/procedures already in place.
- Preparation and submission of the Annual Internal Audit Report to the Board of Directors.
Development and establishment of client acceptance policies:
- Design a wide risk-based oriented Customer Identification (KYC) and due diligence procedures
- Construction and content of clients’ economic profile
- Assisting with the relevant background analysis of the information and documentation provided, through a thoroughly examination of the client’s history, the main corporate activities, the management structure and the beneficial owners.
- Analysis of Source of Funds and Source of Wealth
- Assisting in identifying the “red flags” and suspicious activities – behavior of clients.
Development and establishment of Internal Reporting Procedures
Establishment of the procedure to be followed by the obliged entity in respect to Internal Reporting of suspicious transactions to the AMLC Officer.
Client On-Boarding services
- Development and establishment of a clear client on-boarding policy, which is in line with the provisions of the Law and directives, after a detailed assessment of the risks faced by the particular client. Such risks usually emanate from the obliged entity’s clientele, the type of transactions executed on behalf of clients, and the country of origin and operations of the clients. By taking into consideration factors such as the clients’ background, type and nature of their business activities, their country of origin, the services and financial instruments applied for, the anticipated level and nature of business transactions as well as the expected source and origin of funds, we establish a bespoke client acceptance policy, in which we explicitly set out the criteria for accepting new clients, identify the categories of clients who will not be accepted for the establishment of a business relationship and list the criteria for the risk categorization of clients.
- Undertaking the full range of client On-Boarding services (as described above) as an outsourcing supplier of the obliged entity.
Development and establishment of the risk management and procedures manual
Establishment of the procedures and risk management manual for the obliged entity to fulfill the specific needs of each entity based on its size, internal organization and the nature, scope and complexity of its activities.
Establishment of procedures for the ongoing monitoring of customers’ accounts and transactions
Establishment of procedures and methodologies in order to monitor account transactions for unusual behavior, as required by AML legislation.
Assessment and establishment of adequate governance arrangements to ensure effective and prudent management
Implementation of governance arrangements that ensure effective and prudent management of an obliged entity, including the segregation of duties within the organization and the prevention of conflicts of interest.
Preparation and implementation of Recovery and Resolution Plans
Preparation of a recovery and resolution plan providing for measures to be taken by the obliged entity in order to restore its financial position following a significant deterioration of its financial situation.
Recommendation of suitable AML Software
Recommendation of AML Software which is suitable for the specific needs of each obliged entity based on the entity’s size, internal organization and the nature, scope and complexity of its activities.
Licensing of Investment Firms in Cyprus:
A company that wants to provide investment services can be licensed and supervised by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (“CySEC”) under Law 87(I)/2017 which is the national transposition of Directives 2014/65/EU and 2017/565 (MIFID I & MIFID II). Following the granting of the relevant authorization by CySEC, the investment firm acquires the so-called “passporting right” which allows the provision of investment services and activities on a cross border basis in other Member States without seeking authorisation in those host States.
Other than the passporting rights, Cyprus has proven to be an exceptional and particularly attractive jurisdiction which is well known for its high level of services and which is at the top of the EU tax league table in terms of the attractiveness of its tax regime.
Our firm has a dedicated team of highly skilled and experienced professionals with the necessary expertise who specialize in the provision of compliance services to investment firms at both international and national level. Our team can successfully undertake the entire licensing process and communication with the relevant authorities by preparing all the necessary documentation and by drafting the relevant manuals required by CySEC.
The authorisation of a Cyprus Investment Firm takes an average of 5-6 months after submission to get a final response considering that there are no exceptional circumstances surrounding the application. It is also possible to utilize the fast-track scheme of CySEC based on which there is an additional fee of EUR 25.000 paid to CySEC which can reduce the processing time of the application by CySEC to two (2) months.
Before the application for authorization a Cyprus firm must be incorporated with the Registrar of Companies. It is required that the company’s board of directors consists of two executive and two non-executive directors, the majority being Cyprus residents. The Investment Firm will need to have a local physical presence where it will perform, at least, its major operations from. In this respect, the firm must have a local office adequately equipped and staffed with all key personnel in order to qualify to apply for the relevant authorization.
- Cyprus Investment Firms (“CIF”) need to have a minimum amount of capital which is depended on the services and/or activities they provide. A CIF that provides one or more of the following investment services and holds clients’ money or/and client’s financial instruments, must have an initial capital of €125,000:
- The reception and transmission of orders in relation to financial instruments.
- The execution of orders on behalf of clients.
- Portfolio management.
- Provision of investment advice.
- A CIF that provides reception and transmission of orders and/ or investment advice without handling clients’ assets or client’s financial instruments may have an initial capital of €50,000 or professional liability insurance or combination of both.
- A CIF that provides one or more of the following investment services and activities shall have a minimum initial capital of €730,000:
- Dealing on own account.
- Underwriting of financial instruments and/ or placing of financial instruments on a firm commitment basis.
- Placing of financial instruments without a firm commitment basis.
- Operation of Multilateral Trading Facility.
Investment & Ancillary Services
The Investment and Ancillary Services that an Investment Firm may apply for are the following:
- Reception and transmission of orders in relation to one or more financial instruments: beyond its very descriptive name, this investment service is – in most cases – a requirement for firms also wanting to execute orders on their clients’ behalf.
- Execution of orders on behalf of clients: an investment firm authorised for this investment service can act to conclude agreements to buy or sell financial instruments on behalf of clients.
- Dealing on own account: as per its definition it “means trading against proprietary capital resulting in the conclusion of transactions in one or more financial instruments”. Effectively the investment firm is authorised to keep the risk resulting from the trading activity in its own books.
- Portfolio management: it is the management of portfolios in accordance with the mandates given by clients.
- Investment advice: it is the provision of personal recommendations to a client, either upon its request or at the initiative of the investment firm.
- Placing of financial instruments without a firm commitment basis: an authorisation to perform this activity by an investment firm for another entity translates into the performing of a ‘sales’ function. This is because the investment firm agrees to sell the financial instruments of a third party to the public, without the investment firm committing, without having an obligation to buy any of the financial instruments that could not be sold to the public.
- Underwriting of financial instruments and/or placing of financial instruments on a firm commitment basis: as opposed to the placing of financial instruments without a firm commitment basis investment service, the investment firm in this case is authorised to agrees to sell the financial instruments of a third party to the public, and commit to having the obligation to buy any of the financial instruments that could not be sold to the public.
- Operation of Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF): this is an authorisation to operate a trading system that brings together multiple 3rd party interests in buying and selling financial instruments.
- Operation of an Organized Trading Facility (OTF): this is an authorisation to operate a trading facility that is not a regulated market or an MTF.
- Safekeeping and administration of financial instruments for the account of clients, including custodianship and related services such as cash/collateral management and excluding maintaining securities accounts at the top tier level,
- Granting credits or loans to an investor to allow him to carry out a transaction in one or more financial instruments, where the firm granting the credit or loan is involved in the transaction,
- Advice to undertakings on capital structure, industrial strategy and related matters and advice and services relating to mergers and the purchase of undertakings,
- Foreign exchange services where these are connected to the provision of investment services,
- Investment research and financial analysis or other forms of general recommendation relating to transactions in financial instruments,
- Services related to underwriting,
- Investment services and activities as well as ancillary services of the type included under Section A or B of Annex 1 related to the underlying of the derivatives included under points (5), (6), (7) and (10) of Section C of MiFID II Directive where these are connected to the provision of investment or ancillary services.
In connection with the Ancillary Services, it must be noted that they can be provided only in combination with investment services.
Risk Management & Capital Adequacy Consulting
Risk management can be considered as an essential component for the smooth operation of a company. Legal entities may face a wide range of risks which may have a negative impact in their corporate and financial development. Obliged entities need to establish, implement and maintain adequate risk management policies and procedures which identify the risks relating to the firm’s activities, processes and systems and, where appropriate, set the level of risk tolerated by the firm.
AB Compliance provides detailed, unique and tailored risk-management services to legal entities worldwide for the establishment of effective risk management policies that can support all aspects of their operation while ensuring the appropriate mitigation of each risk. Our company implements a structured, consistent and continuous risk management process throughout the client’s firm, which allows the firm be aware of its risks and how it can eliminate them.
Our Risk Management Services include:
- Preparation of the risk management manual
- Review of the adequacy and effectiveness of the risk management policies and procedures
- Business Best Practices
- Strategic Risk Advisory
- Suggest new and further develop the existing governance and control frameworks within a firm
- Evaluate the key structures and processes required in order to achieve an effective corporate governance and risk management
- Assess the impact of any new regulatory changes introduced within the EU law on the company’s risk profile.
- Establishment of the procedures and risk management manual for the obliged entity to fulfill the specific needs of each entity based on its size, internal organization and the nature, scope and complexity of its activities.
- Implementation of governance arrangements that ensure effective and prudent management of an obliged entity, including the segregation of duties within the organization and the prevention of conflicts of interest.
Capital Adequacy Consulting
The outcome of the internal capital adequacy assessment process (ICAAP) represents the view of the obliged entity on the capital it should hold, given its risk profile and complexity of its business. The ICAAP is a set of processes, procedures and measures implemented by an obliged entity to ensure appropriate identification and measurement of risk, appropriate level of internal capital in relation to their risk profile, and application and further development of suitable risk management and internal control systems.
Our experts’ deep knowledge of the financial sector industry allows us to provide tailored advisory services to financial entities in relation to the long-term management of their capital. Our team provides the following services:
- Capital Adequacy Monitoring
- Assistance in the preparation of the Internal Capital Adequacy Process (ICAAP)
- Preparation of the disclosures of Information (Pillar III)
- Preparation of the Capital Adequacy Ratio Forms
AB Compliance offers training and seminars which are tailored made according to each client’s needs, either natural or legal person with a view to the transmission of the required knowledge and skills so that they can successfully overcome any problems that arise during the operation of their business. Our firm, is offering training/seminars on topics related to the following:
- International AML/CFT Standards
- AML Directives, Guidelines and Circulars issued by the EU institutions and the relevant competent authorities of the member-states.
- Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Red Flags
- Assessing AML/CFT Risk
- Policies and procedures required to be compliant with the law
- The Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Duties, Responsibilities and Risks,
- Know your Customer (KYC) & Customer Due Diligence (CDD)
- Conducting and Responding to Investigation
- Annual Reporting Requirements for obliged entities (e.g law firms, audit firms, investment firms, insurance firms etc.)
- Risk Management Policies
- Internal Capital Adequacy Assessment Process (ICAAP)
Greek Supervising Bodies & Obliged Entities
According to Greek legislation and depending on the sector and industry they operate, obliged entities are regulated by various supervising bodies. We set below a non-exhaustive list of the Greek Supervising Bodies along with the corresponding obliged entities under their supervision:
Bank of Greece
- Credit institutions
- Insurance undertakings and insurance intermediaries
- Leasing companies
- Factoring companies
- Credit management companies for loans and appropriations from credit institutions
- Credit companies
- Electronic money institutions
- Payment institutions
- Postal companies, in respect of the payment services provided
- Bureaux de change
Hellenic Capital Market Commission
- Unit trusts
- Mutual fund management companies
- Investment firms and their tied agents
- Stock brokerage firms
- Venture capital firms
- Real estate investment companies
- Alternative investment fund managers
- exchange services providers between virtual currencies and fiat currencies
- Digital wallet service providers
Financial and Cybercrime unit of Hellenic Police
- Money changers
Hellenic Accounting and Auditing Standards Oversight Board
- Chartered auditors-accountants
- Audit firms
- Private auditors
Independent Authority for Public Revenue (A.A.D.E.)
- External accountants-tax advisors and legal persons providing accounting-tax services
- Real estate agents
- Dealers and sellers in high-value goods
- Any other person undertaking to provide, either directly or through other related parties, material assistance or tax advice, as a main business or professional activity
Hellenic Gaming Commission
- Casino enterprises and casinos operating on ships in Greece or flying the Greek flag
- Businesses, organizations and other providers of gambling services and related agencies, including online betting platforms
Ministry of Justice