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Banks Would Have An Easier Time Freezing Gadhafi's (Gaddafi's? Kadafi's?) Assets If They Could Get A Consensus On How His Name Is Spelled

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Are you planning on doing something in the near or distant future that could potentially get your assets frozen, be it running a massive Ponzi scheme or waging genocide against a group of people? Here's a pro-tip: spell your name at 100 different ways and they'll never find you.

International banks, acting on government orders to freeze assets from Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, are scouring hundreds of millions of client files for individuals on the new watch lists. But in doing so, bank compliance officers are grappling with a peculiar challenge: the myriad ways of transliterating Arabic names...The pressure is high, with banks fearful of falling afoul of justice officials. "While [Arabic transliteration] has always been a concern, it's become more of a challenge given recent events," said Vasilios Chrisos, a top U.S.-based compliance officer at Australian bank Macquarie Group Ltd.

Compounding things, for individuals with Arabic names, sanctions lists provide only a few alternate spellings. The U.S. Treasury Department offers 12 possible spellings for Moammar Gadhafi, though language experts say there are more than 100 for the family name alone...Banks allow clients to transliterate their names as they see fit when they open new accounts. When a government publishes a new watch list, the banks' software uses so-called fuzzy logic to search for alternative spellings, similar to how Google suggests alternative phrases when it detects a possible typo in a search.

[WSJ]

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