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Fintech

New rating agency ranks EM banks by financial crime risk

Barclays backs MIT start-up Sigma Ratings; CEO promises universal emerging-markets coverage.

A former US Treasury official and a corporate lawyer are launching a rating agency that will rank banks in emerging markets based on their corporate governance and exposure to financial crime.

Sigma Ratings, which is due to go live later this year, will use artificial intelligence (AI) to produce country and entity level ratings from publicly available data, as well as more detailed ratings for institutions that provide internal information on their controls, procedures and systems.

stuart-jones-sigma-160x186

Stuart Jones Jr,
Sigma

Stuart Jones Jr, Sigma’s chief executive, helped set up the National Counterterrorism Centre in Virginia before serving as a Treasury financial attaché in Afghanistan and the Middle East. The inspiration for the project, however, came from his five years at EY advising emerging market banks on how to defend their organizations against threats such as money laundering and cybercrime.

“The institutions we worked with wanted to do the right thing,” he says. “They would bring in external consultants and invest in putting in place the right procedures, but from the perspective of London or New York they would be painted with the same brush as everyone else in their country.

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