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London regtech GSS raises $47M to help banks screen for global sanctions

Global Screening Services (GSS), a London-based regulatory compliance platform that helps financial institutions meet their global sanctions obligations, has raised $47 million in a round of funding.

The raise comes amid a spike in economic sanctions, with the U.S. issuing trade restrictions and asset blocking against states including Russia, China, Iran and more.

Enforcement

GSS co-founder and CEO Tom Scampion was previously head of financial crime for Deloitte's EMEA arm, leaving in 2020 to become general partner at consulting firm AlixPartner -- where GSS was initially incubated before being spun out as a standalone entity in 2021.

The company actually raised a similar amount of funding last year from big-name backers including Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), one of the world's largest banks. For its latest raise, GSS revealed another financial powerhouse as a backer: the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), which is joined by Cynosure Group and AlixPartner for this latest cash injection.

Banks often find themselves at the forefront of sanctions enforcement, given their role in controlling the flow of money around the globe. But it's not always easy figuring out who is sending money to whom. In 2019, Standard Chartered was hit with $1.1 billion in fines from U.K. and U.S. regulators for having insufficient money-laundering controls in place, including breaching sanctions that had been put in place against countries such as Iran. And five years previous to that, BNP Paribas was fined a whopping $8.9 billion for processing financial transactions for countries sanctioned by the U.S.

As such, investors have continued to back regulatory compliance businesses in recent years, with the likes of New York-based Droit raising $23 million last year, shortly after London's SteelEye secured $21 million in financing.

GSS sells a sanctions-screening platform to help banks and other financial institutions comply with regulations. These institutions feed transaction data into GSS's cloud-based platform, which returns an alert if it finds a match against a standardized set of sanctions lists from around the world -- GSS also "enriches" these lists with additional data points, such as dates of birth, International Maritime Organization (IMO) numbers for ships and data from the local financial transfer systems of sanctioned countries such as Russia and China.

GSS also provides "enhanced" lists for screening, including companies that are partly owned by people / companies / governments that have been sanctioned by OFAC, the EU or U.K.

With another $47 million in the bank, GSS is now transitioning from "development phase" to fully operational, as it prepares to go live with its first customers.