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Source: Ara Institute of Canterbury

Ara ICT student Kelsey Vavasour may have been just completing her degree this year, but at the same time, the high-achieving student was helping to fight international crime.

On Wednesday July 22nd, Kelsey took part in the ‘Emerge’ ICT exhibition, Ara’s annual showcase for Bachelor of Information and Computer Technology (BICT) students which runs across the week 20 – 24 July, and features displays showcasing students’ capstone projects.

Ara tutor Amit Sarkar, who acted as Academic Supervisor for Kelsey and many more of this year’s student projects, was immensely proud of all of his students and their efforts, but he singled out Kelsey Vavasour’s project as a particular triumph.

“What made Kelsey special was her resilience, time management and immense programming skills. She was just a powerhouse, managing everything so well during her project, and as a model student, she ended up with a model outcome – all three of her examiners unanimously decided that she should get a one hundred percent grade.”

Kelsey worked with Jade Software on their ThirdEye application. This product is designed to detect anomalies in financial transactions that seem to indicate that money-laundering is taking place. As money-laundering is a global problem with huge financial and ethical implications, tracking the source of incoming monies is for many companies a high priority. Globally, compliance regulations are being increasingly employed to help tackle the problem, but the practice is a multi-trillion dollar enterprise that benefits from the boom in complex financial instruments and jurisdictions that specialise in offshoring profits and creating impenetrable shell company structures.

Aside from legislation, modern software can help by automatically monitoring transactions for suspicious or unusual behaviour. Jade Software has created an original algorithm which checks customer details against Dow Jones’ international watchlists, and searches for ‘politically exposed persons, their relatives and close associates, special interest persons, and special interest entities.’

Kelsey played an important role within the refinement of the software, working with internal and external stakeholders to improve the user experience, and “bridge the acceptance gap”. She says “During my project, I was working to provide assurance to Jade’s clients that ThirdEye is loading and processing their data correctly. I had to analyze what was going on, look at where the problems were, what the customers actually needed and what their requirements were. Jade customers include lots of banks and casinos in particular – businesses that have to deal with a wide variety of money transfers.”

Mr. Sarkar’s strong industry connections, including his history with Jade, ensure that students such as Kelsey can benefit from real-world work experience before they even graduate, and in many instances, provide work that is of significant value to local companies.