We are here live for the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) Southern California Chapter’s 10th Anniversary Gala at the City Club Los Angeles venue, to CAST the Night Away LA! This event is full of stars and who’s who in the world of anti-money laundering (AML) as the chapter celebrates 10 remarkable years of education and partnerships. This is Hoi Luk, membership director, with KAML, reporting to you live. We’ll be providing you with step-by-step action of the event. It’s a thrill and honor to be here.
It’s a warm and full night of stars gathered at the City Club which brought out the best and brightest of the ACAMS world. Dignitaries and celebrities included Mayor of Los Angeles Eric Garcetti (via video); former ACAMS Executive Vice President John Byrne; CAST Seeds of Renewal Award recipient Angela Guanzon; 2013 ACAMS Al Gillum Volunteer of the Year recipient Liz Slim; 2014 ACAMS AML Professional of the Year recipient Chuck Taylor; 2019 Homeland Security Investigation Private Partnership Award recipient Victor Cardona; ACAMS Chapter Manager, Development and Strategy Stephanie Allen and many others.
In addition to celebrating the 10-year milestone of the Southern California Chapter, the purpose of the gala tonight is to raise funds and awareness of human trafficking. The theme of the evening, CAST the Night Away LA, is to combat modern day slavery and human trafficking. The chapter is honored to support the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking (CAST). They are the nation’s largest provider of comprehensive life-changing services to survivors and an advocate for groundbreaking policies and legislation.
For two decades, CAST has supported thousands of survivors on their journey to freedom, from counseling and mentorship, to legal resources and housing, to education and leadership training. For more information, visit www.castla.org. The CAST LA hotline number is 888-KEY-2-FREE (888-539-2373).
Follow me and let’s go inside and check out the red carpet. Arriving in her beautiful black gown adorned with gold as designed by the House of Slim is the ACAMS Southern California Chapter Board Chairwoman Elizabeth Slim. So, Liz, this is a wonderful venue and night for the event. Congratulations! Please share with the audience how the chapter was started and highlights of the past 10 years.
Liz Slim: Looking back…10 years ago a Bank Secrecy Act (BSA) officer wanted to build and establish a coalition of AML professionals in southern California, a geography that is designated as both a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area and High Financial Crimes Area. Who would have thought it didn’t have a local ACAMS chapter? Well, not me. I reached out, connected and coordinated with approximately 36 other AML professionals in the local area and held the inaugural meeting at a RM US LLP Pasadena local office board room. Moving forward, three years after the beginning of the Southern California Chapter, the chapter was awarded the Chapter of the Year by ACAMS. The chapter offers learning events, including the annual AML symposium now in its fifth year, and covers topics such as human trafficking, elder abuse, cybercrime, money services businesses, identity theft, trade-based money laundering and more. The chapter has supported charities like Elizabeth House, Polaris Project, Red Cross, Ascencia and CAST LA—who happens to also be tonight’s charity.
Thank you, Liz, for the insight and your continued support and leadership of the chapter. Enjoy the evening.
Now, what would a stylish event be without a VIP reception to kick off the gathering and get everyone into a festive and celebratory mood. In addition to the imbibing of adult beverages and tasty appetizers, as guests are checking in, they are walking the red carpet and taking pictures with spectacular backdrops, like those at Hollywood events. There are also tables filled with fabulous items available for bid as part of the silent auction to benefit CAST LA. Anyone want to bid for Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money laundering consulting, a nice massage or an evening at the Hollywood Bowl? A good amount should be raised tonight for CAST LA!
After an hour of mingling, meeting new and familiar faces, it’s time for the main event.
As everyone walks into the main ballroom and finds their table and seats, lively music can be heard and enjoyed from the talented band, Rick Rossi Band dba Rossi Music. There are a multitude of glamorous tables set to the night’s mood and event. John Byrne of AML RightSource kicks off the evening with a welcome speech and introduces Liz Slim.
After Liz’s opening remarks, the guests are pleasantly surprised with a personalized video recording from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He congratulated and applauded the chapter for their 10-year anniversary gala and stated that CAST LA is an organization that he and his wife personally support and the importance of the organization. Thank you, Mayor Garcetti.
After the message from Mayor Garcetti, the guests hear from Angela Guanzon from CAST LA and her experience as a trafficked laborer. She was a young adult that was promised a good job in the U.S. After paying her life’s savings for the labor broker fee, Angela arrived in the U.S. and met her trafficker for the first time who immediately confiscated her passport and other documents. She was threatened with violence and verbal abuse. Angela was forced to work without pay and slept on the hallway floor at an assisted living center in Long Beach, California.After a neighbor alerted the authorities, Angela bravely worked with the FBI and strapped herself to a surveillance device to uncover the human trafficking case.
Following Angela’s story, the guests hear the Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Los Angeles side of the events and the projects that they are working on like S.T.O.P. Trafficking—HSI’s strategic trafficking outreach program, presented by Deputy Special Agent in Charge Dawn Barriteau.
What is a party without party favors and cake? Each guest now receives a challenge coin. To make it even more worthwhile, one of the board members of the Southern California Chapter, Jim Dowling, challenges each attendee to make a donation to CAST LA. Way to go, Jim! This just came in over my earpiece—the event has successfully raised over $14,000 from the silent auction and pledged donations to CAST.
The spectacular and enjoyable event would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of all the board members, chapter members, sponsors and guests. The chapter board members wish to extend their heartfelt gratitude to all involved that have made the evening a success.
Finally, it would not be a true Hollywood story without a corresponding video to highlight and showcase the event and more importantly, the case of human trafficking.
Stay tuned for the upcoming video release from Klein Creative Media.
We had a wonderful and memorable evening.
Thank you. This is Hoi Luk, with KAML Channel 111, reporting to you live in downtown Los Angeles. Now back to you in Miami, Florida. Good night.
That’s a wrap!
Submitted by: ACAMS Southern California Chapter, SoCalACAMS@gmail.com