The ACAMS Connection is a bi-weekly e-newsletter exclusive to ACAMS members. It provides members with a snapshot of anti-money laundering (AML) current events, the latest trends in financial crime and updates on what is new to the ACAMS community. The ACAMS Connection is the trusted source by ACAMS members for staying on top of industry best practices.

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Recently Featured

Binance’s $4 Billion Federal Settlement

Unlicensed money transmitting and sanctions violations by Binance Holdings Limited (Binance), the entity that operates the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.com, and its CEO Changpeng Zhao resulted in both the company and Zhao pleading guilty on the grounds of engagement in money laundering on November 21, 2023, an exigent moment in the cryptocurrency industry. This case is a warning bell regarding the necessity for strict adherence to regulatory compliances,


Germany Prepares for EU’s AML/CTF Regulation and AMLA

Germany is storming ahead in its efforts to improve its standing at the international level and install best-practice standards following the outcome of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Mutual Evaluation published in August 2023 and also in preparation for the arrival of the European Union’s (EU) first anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regulation and the establishment of the EU supervisory organization,


The Missing Pieces in Financial Crime Investigations

Intelligence is a cycle of gathering, analyzing and reporting information to guide operations. The most telling information, however, is often not what you have been able to gather but rather what is missing. Information without analysis is like puzzle pieces scattered on a table. Analysis is the process of turning them face up, finding the edges and sorting them.


Previously Featured

Binance’s $4 Billion Federal Settlement

Unlicensed money transmitting and sanctions violations by Binance Holdings Limited (Binance), the entity that operates the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, Binance.com, and its CEO Changpeng Zhao resulted in both the company and Zhao pleading guilty on the grounds of engagement in money laundering on November 21, 2023, an exigent moment in the cryptocurrency industry. This case is a warning bell regarding the necessity for strict adherence to regulatory compliances,


Germany Prepares for EU’s AML/CTF Regulation and AMLA

Germany is storming ahead in its efforts to improve its standing at the international level and install best-practice standards following the outcome of the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) Mutual Evaluation published in August 2023 and also in preparation for the arrival of the European Union’s (EU) first anti-money laundering/counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) regulation and the establishment of the EU supervisory organization,


The Missing Pieces in Financial Crime Investigations

Intelligence is a cycle of gathering, analyzing and reporting information to guide operations. The most telling information, however, is often not what you have been able to gather but rather what is missing. Information without analysis is like puzzle pieces scattered on a table. Analysis is the process of turning them face up, finding the edges and sorting them.


Banking Cannabis: The Issue of Dutch Coffee Shops

Growing cannabis in the Netherlands is illegal, yet over 500 coffee shops can legally sell the drug throughout the country. This bizarre duality, also known as gedoogbeleid, or tolerance policy, criminalizes the growing and sourcing of cannabis while authorities turn a blind eye to its sale.


Russian Sanctions: Hitting the Target or Missing the Mark?

Russia is currently the world’s most-sanctioned country in history. The number of currently active sanctions against Russia exceeds 18,800, which is four times more than the sanctions against Iran and almost nine times more than those against North Korea.1 Nevertheless, in 2023, the growth rate of the Russian economy was higher than the US and any European Union (EU) member economy.


Financial Crimes Detection: Awareness of Financial Habits

In the summer of 2023, a peculiar political issue made headlines in Austria: The conservative government, responding to cross-party concerns about a digital euro initiative, began exploring ways to establish a right to cash payments in the constitution. A few other countries have had similar debates, often in response to the new era of digital payments.


Hennie Verbeek-Kusters: Identifying Your Potential

ACAMS Today sat down with Hennie Verbeek-Kusters as we celebrate women’s achievements and what it means to #InspireInclusion—this year’s theme for International Women’s Day. Verbeek-Kusters has been the head of the financial intelligence unit (FIU) in the Netherlands (FIU Netherlands) since 2008. Under her leadership, the focus of the FIU has shifted to greater cooperation with public and private partners in the fight against money laundering.


Federal Grand Jury Subpoenas for Financial Records: The Secrets Revealed

What is a federal grand jury subpoena? A federal grand jury subpoena for financial records is a document issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to compel action by a financial institution (FI).


Making Sense of U.S. AFC Measures, With Daniel Stipano

In this “Financial Crime Matters” episode, Kieran Beer talks with Daniel Stipano, partner at Davis Polk & Wardwell about the unfolding requirements of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA) and Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2020 and their impact on law enforcement, and financial as well as non-financial institutions.


Let the Dogs Out: Puppy Laundering Crimes

We dreamt of adding a puppy to our family after a lovely weekend of dog-sitting. As I scrolled through the internet, our excitement turned to dismay as we uncovered the concept of puppy laundering: The deceptive practice of marketing puppies from mills as rescued dogs. Breeders sell these dogs while concealing their origins and funding criminal activities.


The Black Market for Used Cooking Oil

Restaurants across the U.S. are now the targets of thieves who are not interested in stealing money per se but something just as valuable: Used cooking oil. Yes, old grease! Has anyone ever considered that the used cooking oil discarded by restaurants has substantial value? According to Fortune Business Insights, the black market for used cooking oil is growing.


Edmund Fitton-Brown on Yemen and the Houthis

In the latest episode of the “Sanctions Space” podcast, Justine Walker is joined by Edmund Fitton-Brown, senior advisor at the Counter Extremism Project and former U.K. ambassador to Yemen. They discuss the ongoing tensions in the Red Sea, the political situation in Yemen and the origin and aspirations of the Houthi group, as well as sanctions actions taken by the U.S.


AML Investigations for Correspondent Banking: A Best Practice Guide

Correspondent banking has long been the backbone of the global financial system, facilitating cross-border payments, enabling international trade and promoting global financial stability. It involves a financial institution (FI), (the correspondent), providing a deposit account or other services to another bank, (the respondent).1 Anti-money laundering (AML) investigations are a crucial component in combating financial crime through correspondent banking.


The Department of the Treasury’s View of Crypto Compliance

The year 2023 began in the wake of the collapse of FTX. Almost miraculously, however, 12 months later, the criminal case has been resolved with a conviction against former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, and countries around the globe are shaking off fear, uncertainty and doubt to build consistent regulatory frameworks for cryptocurrencies. The European Union passed the watershed Market in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) legislation.


Identifying Financial Crime Threats, With Justine Walker and Craig Timm

In this episode of “Financial Crime Matters,” Kieran Beer talks with ACAMS colleagues Justine Walker, head of global sanctions and AML risk and Craig Timm, senior AML director. They discuss the newly released “ACAMS Global AFC Threats 2024.” Drawing on 788 in-depth interactions with anti-financial crime (AFC) professionals that inform the report,


A New Threat on the Horizon: AI-Generated CSAM

Artificial intelligence (AI) has opened the gates to a new horrific era in which perpetrators of crimes against children can generate ultrarealistic AI child sexual abuse material (CSAM) at the click of a button. AI-generated CSAM falls within the category of computer/digitally generated CSAM, which is defined by ECPAT International as the production of CSAM and other wholly or partly artificially or digitally created sexualized content of children through digital media,


The Importance of Employee Retention

Our colleagues in the anti-money laundering (AML), compliance, regulatory and risk space work in a number of areas, including traditional finance, financial technology (fintech), the crypto and payments space as well as sports betting and gaming companies. One question that has been difficult to answer given the wide-ranging nature of AML is this: What is going on with this market?


Stemming Crypto-Related Crime, With Coinbase’s Grant Rabenn

In this episode of “Financial Crime Matters,” Kieran Beer talks with Grant Rabenn, director, Financial Crimes Legal at Coinbase. Rabenn, a former federal prosecutor who handled some of the Department of Justice’s earliest crypto cases, discusses the promise of blockchain offerings, while acknowledging the industry’s need to work with regulators to stem their use in financial crime and money laundering.


Erin West: Awareness is Key in Disrupting Financial Crimes

Speaking with ACAMS Today is Erin West, deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County, California’s Regional Enforcement Allied Computer Team, known as REACT. She focuses on high-tech crimes. In addition, West leads the Crypto Coalition, a group of nearly 1,400 local, state, federal and international law enforcement (LE) agents, specializing in cryptocurrency investigation. She is particularly interested in assisting victims and being a resource to state and local LE eager to enter the cryptocurrency investigation arena.


Bitcoin as Legal Tender in El Salvador: A Case Study

In September 2021, El Salvador made global headlines by becoming the first nation to embrace bitcoin as legal tender—an unprecedented move that sent ripples through traditional financial systems.


Peter Harrell on Global Sanctions in 2024

In the latest episode of the “Sanctions Space” podcast, Justine Walker is joined by Peter Harrell, nonresident fellow at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and attorney. They discuss recent and anticipated Russia sanctions developments (including EO 14114, increasing focus on third countries, and price cap developments), what may be in store for U.S.-China relations and export controls, and priorities on Capitol Hill for 2024.


Russia and Iran’s Continued Efforts to Challenge International Sanctions

On August 23, 2023, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva made waves at the annual BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) nations summit with a common currency proposal for BRICS countries to reduce dependency on the U.S. dollar, resulting in concerns that the proposal was a ruse by Russia to combat sanctions and its exile from global financial systems.


Ask the AFC Guru: Lindsay Lindmier—Audit Preparation, Protecting Against Fraud and More

This month’s anti-financial crime (AFC) guru, Lindsay Lindmier, CAMS, CAFP, is the director of Financial Crimes and Bank Secrecy Act/Office of Foreign Assets Control (BSA/OFAC) officer at Security National Bank in Omaha, Nebraska. Security National Bank, which is a privately owned bank with an asset size of $1.4 billion, has locations in Omaha, Nebraska; Des Moines, Iowa and Dallas, Texas.


From Money Launderer to AML Consultant, the Kenneth Rijock Story

In this episode of “Financial Crime Matters,” Kieran Beer talks with Kenneth Rijock, a former Miami-based lawyer who spent a decade as a bag man for drug traffickers, investing their cash in accounts in the Caribbean and other offshore secrecy havens. Rijock describes some of the classic methods he used for laundering money and how law enforcement (LE) ultimately caught up with him.