Gary presents at the ACAMS 24+ online financial crime marathon

In the first week of June 2020, Gary joined more than 80 financial crime compliance experts at the ground-breaking ACAMS24+ Global Virtual Summit online. Possibly the most ambitious ‘webinar’ yet attempted while many nations were under Covid-19 lockdown conditions, experts from around the globe offered hundreds of regulatory updates and compliance tips.  Rolling across time-zones from NZ/Australia/Asia/Europe to the US, over more than 24 hours, the tagline for this financial crime said it all: “What a difference one day makes”. For a whole day and night, banking regulators, law enforcement officials, subject-matter experts like Gary, and compliance industry executives spoke via livestream on the most pressing issues facing financial crime practitioners and reporting entities today. Everything from the rise of COVID-19-related fraud, to sanctions linked to violent extremists, to the challenges of implementing AI, and e-sports and gaming technology risks were on the table. Gary’s panel session “Widening the Community” aimed to survey the Asia-Pacific rim landscape extending AML laws to also apply to professionals and gatekeepers, those servicing and supplementing the financial sectors.  Nearly 900 people tuned in internationally to this session, including an amazing 140 or so (caffeine-loaded, no doubt!) who had stayed up for the entire duration of the conference! Some countries find it a real challenge meeting the FATF’s requirement that Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions (DNFBPs) be captured. A few nations (e.g. New Zealand) have barrelled ahead with covering all the FATF-required services sectors; others are tentatively getting to it in parts (Japan); others are steadfastly resisting as the political will for change appears lacking (Australia, yes, we were looking at you!) A key summary slide/chart used to compare countries can be found here. The panel sought to raise awareness around the efforts of governments to bring these firms under the umbrella of AML/CFT compliance. How are those new entrants to the regulatory regime coping with having to be fully regulated for money laundering and terrorist financing purposes for the first time? And what are the hurdles preventing other nations moving to bring DNFBPs inside the AML tent? Gary and other panellists contrasted the approaches of New Zealand and Australia, among other countries, in deterring illicit finance outside of the formal financial sector. Whilst addressing issues like client identification and due diligence, transaction monitoring, and reporting requirements across these recent entrants, they zoomed in on the money laundering vulnerabilities of lawyers, accountants and, most particularly, real estate transactions. During the 55 minute presentation, Gary touched on issues including:
  • the background and implementation of NZ’s “phase” 2 law reforms, and how policy traction grew to include lawyers, accountants and real estate agents
  • problems with imprecise definitions for coverage, and carve outs – such as the fact that estate agents are not having to do Customer Due Diligence or KYC on building purchasers (implicitly, the system leaves lawyers to shoulder that burden and compliance cost instead), along with commercial leasing and property management aspects
  • useful comparative cases, reports and typologies for property laundering examples – including a recent New Zealand case of a lawyer jailed (along with his gang member client) for structuring and executing property and other asset transactions for a motorcycle gang
  • Interest in Canada’s Cullen Commission of Inquiry in British Columbia, an interesting comparison of Vancouver’s heated property markets with Auckland or Sydney
  • a common weakness many of the Pacific region jurisdictions share – lack of transparency and line-of-sight into real estate beneficial ownership and trust structures.
The ACAMS 24+ website for the event is here. Paying attendees can get access to review the recordings of the sessions at their leisure (if 24 hours was too much in one stint).  It may be possible to register late for the slides/webinar history only –  I would suggest making an enquiry via the site.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
Gary presents at the ACAMS 24+ online financial crime marathon