An innovative platform developed by a London-based fintech company is setting new standards in due diligence by allowing banks and other investors to verify the background of key individuals in the companies they invest in.
Neotas claims its military-grade intelligence may have prevented some of the high-profile scandals in recent years by alerting investors to cases of fraud and false identity or even incidents of inappropriate or suspicious behaviour on the part of CEOs or entrepreneurs.
The platform, which is operated by trained analysts, harvests digital trails to reveal an individual’s true character, behaviour and networks. It is designed to be used alongside traditional due diligence methods and is also ideal for compliance purposes, including KYC, fraud, AML, SM & CR checks and deep HR screening.
Neotas has been selected by PwC as one of a dozen fintech firms internationally to take part in its Scale FinTech programme to support fast-growing scale-ups.
The Neotas platform searches all open web sources, from international and legal records to media sites, social media platforms, online discussions and deep and dark web sources – only around 5% of this information could be found via a Google search.
The system has already achieved some notable successes by the private equity firms which have trialled it. In one case an individual was found to have multiple names and links to criminal networks, in another a senior appointment had a history of hard drug use and violence, while in a third case, it revealed that the director of a start-up had significant undisclosed personal wealth but was vulnerable to fraud because his personal data was openly available online.
Neotas has been founded by Vipul Mishra, who was previously head of information security at a leading London-based hedge fund, and Ian Howard, who has over 30 years’ experience in finance and investment markets. The team also includes experts in financial crime and investigations.
Ian Howard said the service goes far beyond the scope of commercial, financial or management due diligence, but aims to complement, rather than replace, such services. “Private equity firms place great store on the people they invest in, however often important decisions are made on the basis of a few face to face meetings and some limited background checks. Meanwhile banks and financial institutions are under greater pressure to validate the identity and background of clients.
“In the digitally interconnected world, there is a wealth of information available that can provide a more comprehensive picture of an individual’s true nature and background. Our service aims to bring due diligence and compliance into the modern age to allow investors to make more informed business decisions and help banks and others in the financial services sector to meet the challenges of the new regulatory landscape.”