Fincrime compliance professionals highlight longer hours, shifting illicit patterns of finance, training challenges in first ACFCS ‘Virtual Happy Half-Hour’

The Skinny:

  • In a new initiative to connect with members, network and share knowledge to bolster compliance in a time of Coronavirus, ACFCS holds ‘Virtual Happy Half-Hour.’
  • In a lively discussion, more than a dozen anti-money laundering officers, sector stakeholders and top ACFCS executives noted some key trends at play during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • In short: Many fincrime compliance professionals are working longer – sometimes 12-16 hour days to overcome scattered teams, more alerts and strengthen training for current or incoming staffers.
  • As well, criminal trends are changing. In one example, tied to human trafficking, illicit groups are trying to shift away from cash and hotel rooms to cam shows, prepaid cards and virtual currencies.

By Brian Monroe
bmonroe@acfcs.org
April 9, 2020

More than a dozen financial crime compliance professionals, along with staff and executives from the Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists, attended the association’s inaugural “Virtual Happy Half-Hour,” a welcome respite for colleagues to commiserate, laugh and share tips on broader illicit finance trends.

The novel coronavirus, first identified in Wuhan China in December, has in recent months leapt across international borders and cemented itself in anchor points in Italy, Spain and now the jurisdiction with the most confirmed cases: The United States.

Global cases are nearing 1.7 million with more than 102,000 deaths, according to Worldometers.

The United States currently has the most COVID-19 cases in the world, more than 495,000, which is more than double Italy at more than 157,000 and Spain is currently at third, which has less than 148,000 cases.

Overall, financial crime compliance professionals are dealing with a challenging time, with some teams working from home around the globe – and some operations trimming staff – and dealing large-scale disruptions in anti-money laundering alert patterns, while trying not to fall behind on filings of actual potential suspicious activity.

In a lively discussion during the ACFCS event, AML officers and other stakeholders in the sector noted some key trends at play during the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

  • AML and fraud fighters at banks are working longer hours, in some cases 12 to 16-hour days because alerts have risen while resources have fallen, scattered or remained the same.
  • Everything is taking longer. With many formerly centrally located teams now quarantined and working from home, compliance duties that might take one hour are now taking two. So effectiveness and productivity are even greater pain points.
  • Training can’t be given short shrift. In some cases, compliance officers are taking several hours each day to update current staff on criminal trends and core AML duties – or must take even longer to bring new AML analysts up to speed.
  • Without access to a hotel room or illicit massage parlor, human trafficking patterns are changing.
  • Some trafficking groups are going online and offering cam shows. As well, there is less exchanging of cash and a movement to credit and prepaid cards and virtual currencies to pay for such shows – which technically may not even be illegal.

ACFCS also detailed some of the current and upcoming initiatives to help support the learning and training needs of the fincrime compliance community, including extending membership and certification deadlines, offering a fully online testing option and virtual events and workshops.

We are keeping these events small on purpose to create a genuine dialogue for professionals to lean on each other, learn from each other and network. 

Interested in being part of the next event? 

Please reach out to Brian Kindle, VP of Product Development, at bkindle@acfcs.org.

There are also other ways to get involved with ACFCS, share your knowledge and help the community.

How?

By answering one question in a new, just-announced “FinCrime Resiliency Tips” initiative.

In this first edition, we’re focusing on how COVID-19 disruption has affected financial criminals, and how that’s changing the red flags and patterns of criminal activity. Our question for the community is:

What are your top red flags of financial crime in the current pandemic moment?

These can be red flags tied to money laundering, fraud, sanctions, cybercrime, corruption, human trafficking or other fincrime activity. 

Anything tied to the pandemic and resulting disruption is fair game – from changing money laundering tactics, to signs of COVID-19 scams, to sanctions evasion flying under the radar.

To learn more and share your thought leadership, along with a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card, click here