In a matter of moments, with the release of a series of articles by the ICIJ, the relevance and efficacy of the financial intelligence world was called into question. How could this happen? Why didn’t they know? What did they do about it? What appears to be missed was that the information yielded from the leak of 2,100 of the most confidential documents in the AML compliance world was only available because bank compliance professionals were doing their jobs. In some parts of the world, doing your job – as highlighted by Thomson Reuters - could cost you your life. And yet, compliance professionals continue on because they enjoy what they do.
The fight against financial crimes is an evolving and responding process. Think of it like the flu vaccine, where each year doctors and scientists must work to anticipate what strains of influenza may present and develop a vaccine that can best protect all people. Financial service regulators, banking compliance officers and staff, law enforcement, and even specialized advisors and consulting personnel do not have the answers and will not catch all illicit finance nor halt all manipulations of the system, but they do try to work collaboratively to anticipate, report, observe, and remediate the creative adaptability that criminals apply to the financial system in efforts to make their dirty money clean.
Despite challenges, missteps, acknowledged human errors, and occasionally the few bad seeds, these people continue to try and protect our financial system. So from one compliance professional to the rest of you - Cheers to a job well done and here’s to overcoming any and all of the challenges to come.
Their job is not to prove crimes. It is to act as the bank’s conscience; its eyes and ears and its voice of professional scepticism. At the point when they have formed a suspicion, these mild-mannered heroes package up a file and feed it securely to their local financial intelligence unit (FIU).