The global watchlist is a database of various lists from around the world. Companies perform global watchlist searches to identify known criminals, sanctioned individuals, money launderers, frauds, or PEPs.

What is a government watchlist?

A government watchlist is created with cooperation between the government, police, military, and other law enforcement and regulatory bodies. It is in the form of an exhaustive database of people involved in crime or prohibited from working in certain sectors.

People who are flagged on government watchlists could be:

  • Narcotic dealers and traffickers
  • Money launderers
  • Specially designated nationals
  • Human traffickers
  • Those subject to economic sanction
  • People involved in the sale of weapons of mass destruction
  • Those involved in the act of terrorism

People who may not have convictions against them but are suspected of being involved in such activities may also show up on government watchlists. Generally, these databases hold information such as:

  • Names
  • Aliases
  • Dates of birth
  • Addresses
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal history

How does global watchlist screening work?

Global watchlist screening alerts a concerned party if one of the applicants is on the sanctions lists. Here are some lists that are commonly checked:

·        European Union consolidated list;

·        OFAC Specially Designated Nationals & Blocked Persons;

·        Denied Persons List;

·        FBI –  Most Wanted Terrorists & Seeking Information;

·        HM Treasury;

·        Non-Cooperative Countries and Territories;

·        PEP List;

·        EU Terrorism List;

·        Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, etc.

How is the global watchlist search carried out?

The first thing is to verify that the person in question and their ID proof are authentic and match. Multiple reliable data sources are combed thoroughly.

Once the identity has been accurately verified, the verification agency runs the profile against a set of global watchlists. Close matches, such as similar names or similar-looking photos, are also highlighted in the global watchlist search.

The best way to benefit from global watchlist screening is to use automated solutions that allow seamless access and accurate screening and offer dynamic alerts.

Why is Global Watchlist Screening Important?

Global watchlist screening ensures that companies and businesses stay compliant with national and international compliance requirements and regulations. The business will receive information when changes are made to profiles on the global watchlist.

Automated solutions also ensure that an organization’s resources aren’t tied up in paperwork. They focus on making important decisions. Cumbersome, manual work can be reduced by up to 90% with automated KYC (know your customer) verification processes.

With an automated solution that can compare hundreds of profiles, images, and IDs, the chance of a false positive is vastly reduced. This increased accuracy allows financial institutions to run their business hassle-free and smoothly.

It is of the utmost importance that the solutions a financial institution use is updated regularly with the latest information and must overcome unique challenges. For example, using non-western names, non-Latinate characters, and aliases can boggle certain systems and solutions.

Other than global watchlist screening, the solution should also offer additional verification parameters, such as:

Transaction monitoring: An individual’s transactions should be monitored to understand them better. This monitoring will allow a financial institution to identify the people associated with the names highlighted during the global watchlist search.

PEP screening: Those currently in government or have held positions may be a serious cause for concern to some businesses. PEP checks are vital to understanding whom the financial institutions are doing business with and understanding the risks involved.

AMS: News stories, social media posts, or other adverse media could impact an existing client and cause them to be added to the global watchlist. An automated solution will provide alerts in such an event.

With Hyperverge, a financial institution can automate the entire KYC process effortlessly, mitigate risk, improve efficiency, and save time and money. Take a look at the services Hyperverge offers.


What is the purpose of a global watchlist search?

Global watchlist search or screening is done to find out if individuals or companies have been listed on any sanctioned lists or lists that show they have been involved in financial fraud or crime.

What does it mean when a person is on a government watchlist?

This means that the people on the list are suspected of having committed a crime or are likely to commit a crime and are being watched by the government.

How do I find out if I am on a watch list?

You may not be able to find out by yourself. You may have to enlist the help of an agency, financial institution, or legal advisor. However, you should be fine if you have not been involved in any crime. If you suspect that you may have unwittingly been involved in a financial crime, talk to your legal advisor immediately.