ACAMS 8th Annual International Money Laundering Conference & Exhibition entitled Optimising AML Compliance in a Turbulent Economy recently took place, reports Nancy Saur, Regional Head of Compliance & Risk Management (Caribbean) with ATC Trustees (Cayman) Limited.
Despite a difficult economic year, over 700 compliance officers, anti-money laundering professionals, members of regulatory bodies and governments from around the world converged on Las Vegas, Nevada this past September/October for the Association of Anti-Money Laundering Specialists’ 8th Annual International conference. Some may have attended because they are new to the field, others to earn educational credits to maintain their certifications, others to network and gain some best practice tips. Whatever their reasons, the ACAMS conference provides the platform for achieving attendees’ objectives.
Prior to the conference opening, attendees had an opportunity to meet the speakers during a fast-paced speed-networking event. Fast-paced, because attendees had to move to the next speaker every two minutes! Even so, this networking event is well attended since it gives attendees to exchange business cards and have a quick chat with speakers, enabling them to begin to focus in on some of their particular topics of interest over the ensuing two and a half days.
A common criticism from Caribbean or Latin American-based attendees of US-based conferences is limited scope and opportunity to discuss issues unique to the Caribbean or Latin America. And while the first panellists for the discussion of “Keeping Current with Regulatory Trends to Ensure Your Institution Remains Compliant” were solely from US regulatory agencies, the information they imparted was of sufficient applicability to non-US based institutions, regardless of type of institution or jurisdiction. A common caution among the speakers was that financial institutions could not afford to downsize their compliance, risk and anti-money laundering operations too aggressively to effectively handle these ever-present risks.
Subsequent to this first session of the conference, the real fun began! Attendees broke out into seminars (presentations or panels), workshops (facilitated case-study opportunities to work with a group of like-minded professionals) or roundtables (facilitated discussions on a specific theme). A majority of the 16 different roundtables were held twice during the conference in order to enable participants to also take advantage of up to eight seminars and eight workshops.
Some roundtable participants were very knowledgeable of the subject matter of the roundtables they attended, but they participated in order to exchange best practice tips or to assist in educating other participants. The regional roundtables are generally well-attended by those interested in understanding the reasons for the existence of offshore centres and understanding how misconceptions about doing business in, for example, Caribbean jurisdictions got started, and the strength of the anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing regimes. A police officer who participated in the Caribbean particular roundtable spoke about the difficulty of obtaining assistance from the United States when seeking evidence for prosecuting financial crimes which occurred in the US and his jurisdiction – generally US rhetoric is pointing a finger at the Caribbean jurisdictions.
Attendees were presented with tips for establishing an investigative unit within their financial institutions. They had an opportunity to understand OFACs (the US Office of Financial Assets Control) efforts to enforce economic and trade sanctions and US national security goals. Other sessions were focused on specific industries, whether banks, money services businesses, insurance or securities.
In short, the conference provided various learning techniques for attendees of all levels of expertise.