Arabic Names Confound Banks' Efforts to Track Undesirables

Tuesday, 19 Apr 2011 04:50 PM

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International banks are running into increasing problems with the many ways that Arabic names can be spelled as they move to close or identify accounts of deposed leaders and individuals on watch lists.

The problem with names such as Moammar Gadhafi, which seems to have as many spellings as there are news organizations, is that Arabic contains few vowels, making for a transliteration free-for-all, as The Wall Street Journal reports. Watch lists typically provide a few different spellings, but they can’t nail them all down.

Companies such as the CJK Dictionary Institute have stepped in to help banks sort out the problem. It can provide more than 100,000 alternate spellings for a given name, whereas a U.S. watch list would provide just four.

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