Aircraft Guaranty Corp offers insights into Know Your Customer laws within the United States. What is it, how thorough it is, and why is it so important to vet potential aircraft trust customers?
Know Your Customer (KYC) is the term used by businesses in which they verify the identity of prospective customers to determine if the client is someone with whom they should be doing business.
KYC laws were introduced as part of the Patriot Act in the United States that was passed after the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001. Title III of the Patriot Act requires that financial institutions deliver two requirements to comply with KYC: The Customer Identification Program (CIP) and Customer Due Diligence (CDD).
What are the KYC requirements for aircraft trust companies, though? As aircraft trustees, we develop long-term close relationships with the owners for whom we hold trusts, and it is our responsibility to know that our client is eligible and worthy of aircraft ownership.
The Customer Identification Program
Customer Identification Programs (CIP) are a component of the KYC process. Financial institutions are held to the highest CIP standards, and they must implement a program that is appropriate to their size, location and type of business.
The CIP must be in writing and approved by the board of directors. Aircraft Guaranty Corporation uses the guidelines created for financial institutions to develop a process that is appropriate for our business. The CIP we use accurately identifies individuals who want to do business with us.
Identification is the first step in the due diligence process. Once you know who you are doing business with, you can determine if there are any factors about the individual or entity that require additional information gathering or other action.
The following information is gathered for potential corporate customers. Although there are a few software choices, Aircraft Guaranty uses Watchdog to run searches and provide reports, including:
- Identity of company – name, industry
- Location - physical address
- Identity of key personnel and principals
- Any negative information found in:
o The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) at the US Treasury Department
o The System for Award Management (SAM) US Federal Government databse of entities that file to do business with the US Government
- International company profiles from the US Embassy
We learn about corporate representatives or individual buyers not associated with a corporation by reviewing the following information:
- Name, address, telephone numbers
- Country – check for Embargo List of countries (sales prohibited) and sanctioned countries
- Official identification cards of signees, such as a passport and driver’s license
- News database search (run a Google search)
Customer Due Diligence and Enhanced Due Diligence
Customer Due Diligence (CDD) refers to the risk management steps taken to comply with KYC. The process uses the CIP information to assess your potential customer’s risk profile. Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) is required if the customer is considered high risk.
People requiring EDD include:
- Politically exposed persons
- Accounts that deal with high-risk countries
- Accounts that deal with high risk activities
Aircraft Guaranty Corporation conducts CDD before we consider beginning any business relationship. It’s also prudent to do periodic checks to see if customers move into higher risk categories. We keep all KYC records and reports on hand in digital format.
Third Party Vetting Solutions
How can you be sure your potential customer is NOT involved in nefarious activities?
Third party solutions are helpful, but the responsibility is on the trust company. We must understand the resource’s best practices to be sure they are aligned with the aircraft industry requirements. In addition to Watchdog reporting, we also receive information from banks, lawyers and auditors. From this, open scoring models are developed that apply risk characteristics, such as the customer type, geographic profile and product usage.
Aircraft Guaranty takes KYC rules seriously, and our ongoing process will identify and curtail the activities of dishonest or notorious people with whom we come into contact.