For Isabel Medrano, BSA/OFAC Officer and a 1st Vice President of WestStar Bank, the decision to become a certified financial crime specialist was an easy one.

With a long family history of service in the US military, including her son’s current duty in Afghanistan, Isabel sees her efforts to ferret out illegal financial activity as doing her part for her country.

“I am a true American,” says Isabel, an expert with more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. “My passion for our country and desire to provide the best service possible led me to become certified. I wanted to be as qualified and experienced as I could at what I do.”

Crucial role at WestStar

In her role of BSA/OFAC Officer, she develops and implements the El Paso, Texas-based financial institution’s Bank Secrecy Act and OFAC compliance programs.

During Isabel’s tenure in this capacity for the past eight years, she has developed numerous anti-money laundering detection best practices and delivered training sessions to federal and state law enforcement agencies.

“Regulators are no longer satisfied with simple reporting,” she says. “They depend on compliance officers as experts to help identify any criminal element operating in our midst.”

Bank’s service area poses compliance challenge

She notes that the bank’s location near the border between Texas and Mexico is a special challenge that requires vigilance in compliance matters. WestStar is the largest locally owned community bank in the border city of El Paso. It offers a full-range of personal and business banking services to residents living in Far West Texas, Southern New Mexico, and Northern Mexico

To meet the needs of compliance and the bank’s customers, Isabel has doubled from four to eight the number of staff persons in her department in recent years.

“To keep fraud activity under control, we have to have our hands on everything,” she says. “I wear a lot of hats.”

Isabel also has also been invited to participate as a panel member at various financial crime conferences throughout Texas as an industry expert on the BSA and AML. Her expertise has been highlighted as well in various publications.

Why CFCS certification matters

An active member of ACFCS, Isabel serves on the Certification Task Force.

“Being a certified financial crime specialist allows me to best help customers navigate the complexities of current requirements,” she says. “WestStar Bank also is pleased about the certification. They want to know – and they want the public to know – that we are doing our absolute best when it comes to vigilant compliance.”