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A name matching tool for sanctions risk

A minor spelling or capitalization difference in customer or third-party screening can have severe regulatory consequences. Find out how far World-Check One’s enhanced name matching tool will go to spot sanctions risk and fight financial crime.


  1. A robust third-party and customer screening process should include a fuzzy name matching tool for managing sanctions risk.
  2. The presence of misspellings, variable spacing, or misordered names in the screening process can easily lead to the failure of sanctions compliance.
  3. Refinitiv’s World-Check One uses an enhanced and robust name matching tool provided by our technology partner Basis Technology.

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Any executives thinking that a robust third-party screening process is solely the domain of financial institutions received a wake-up call with the publication of recent figures on U.S. Treasury sanctions enforcement.

Banks were the recipients of the heaviest penalties in 2019 for breaching U.S. Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) sanctions — racking up penalties to the tune of more than US$1.2 billion.

However, 18 non-banking organizations were also subject to civil penalties, totaling around $16.5 million for breaching various sanction regimes. They included organizations in travel, oil services, insurance, and manufacturing, as well as the automotive, health and leisure sectors.

U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control civil penalties for breaching sanctions. A name matching tool for sanctions risk

Failures in sanctions compliance

One company had to pay a civil penalty for its failure to identify a third party as being on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list, having reportedly attributed the oversight to their screening tool’s failure to match the company’s name correctly.

Its matching engine did not recognize the sanctioned entity because it appeared in upper case in its own system, whereas it was on the OFAC SDN list with the standard corporate limited liability company suffix in lower case.

As this one example shows, poor matching technology can easily lead to failure in sanctions compliance.

World-Check screening

Refinitiv’s World-Check research teams monitor and update over 700 sanctions, watch and enforcement lists, and include on the World-Check record any versions or variations of a name across languages and scripts, based on information captured from reputable sources.

At Refinitiv, we use new technologies combined with human expertise to deliver outstanding fit-for-purpose screening tools.

When combined with our trusted and quality data content we can help our clients to make informed business decisions and comply with their stringent regulatory obligations.

Getting the right name

Names are central to our identities and can be written in many different variations.

They are the vital data points in any financial compliance, anti-fraud, law enforcement, and identity verification. Yet, it can be very challenging to match names.

It is nearly impossible for a computer system to handle all name variations properly. Minor spelling and capitalization differences only scratch the surface of the complexity behind strong fuzzy name matching technology.

There’s also variable spacing, misordered names, and what names look like when written in different languages to consider. Fuzzy name matching tools must be intelligent enough to be able to capture the right variations of a name.

Using a name matching tool

Refinitiv´s World-Check One uses an enhanced and robust matching tool provided by our technology partner Basis Technology. The tool helps drive operational efficiency during screening by identifying false negatives as well as false positives.

Take ABC OOO and ABC o.o.o., for example. One is in upper case and the other a combination of lower case and punctuation within a name.

Using text analytics in our World-Check One matching engine produces a high matching score of 97.8 percent, immediately identifying the company as a strong match, and if associated to sanctions or other financial crime risk would be flagged for further scrutiny or resolution.

Refinitiv World-Check One Match strength. A name matching tool for sanctions risk

Unlike legacy matching tools that generate static lists of name variations, the World-Check One matching engine algorithm utilizes 13 main features which are specifically designed to widen the results pool, including:

  • Comparing names based on linguistic, orthographic, and phonological algorithms.
  • Identifying transliterations and spelling difference, nicknames, missing spaces and hyphens.
  • Handling disorganized and messy data, inverted names, and names that are incorrectly glued together.
  • Recognizing semantically similar names even across languages.
  • Cross-language name search to find all variations of a person or entity name regardless of the language or script it is written in.

By offering more accuracy and a reduction in false positives during customer screening processes, Refinitiv can assist companies with their operational efficiency, help them to manage sanctions risk and meet their regulatory obligations.

Find out in more detail how our multi-award-winning risk screening platform Refinitiv and World-Check One’s matching engines can help your organization.

Find out how Refinitiv World-Check One can help you meet your regulatory obligations