George Voloshin: Redefining Global Sanctions Education

George Voloshin: Redefining Global Sanctions Education

ACAMS Today spoke to George Voloshin, a global expert on anti-financial crime (AFC) at ACAMS and a member of ACAMS’ global subject-matter experts (SME) team. Before joining ACAMS, Voloshin previously headed the Paris branch of a leading corporate intelligence consultancy and has strong credentials in corporate investigations and political risk analysis. An ACAMS Certified Global Sanctions Specialist (CGSS) and Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS), he has expertise in the geopolitics, security and economics of wider Europe and the former Soviet Union. Voloshin has written extensively on international affairs and, to date, has published two books and hundreds of articles.

ACAMS Today (AT): What constitutes an average workday for you at ACAMS?

George Voloshin (GV): The year 2024 has been quite exceptional for me in the sense that I have been heavily involved as lead SME with the overhaul of our flagship CGSS certification. The purpose is to bring to the market an updated, leaner and better-structured educational product that will continue to serve as the go-to source on economic sanctions for both those who are new to the sanctions world and more experienced professionals. The overhaul began in 2022, and the extent and depth of my involvement gradually increased during 2023. I am proud of what we have been able to achieve so far as a team, as this is definitely a great example of teamwork that draws on the collective expertise, experience and skillset of many people at ACAMS.

Other than that, I lead every year a number of webinars in both English and French; deliver bespoke client training and briefings; develop thematic AFC toolkits; draw infographics that help visualize complex compliance issues, for instance, having led last year a series on sanctions evasion techniques; moderate panels at our flagship conferences; and so on. As you can see, my work is quite diverse and always interesting.

AT: Which ACAMS Assemblies have you attended and what made them a beneficial experience for you?

GV: Since joining ACAMS in 2022, I have been to our flagship conferences in Las Vegas, MENA (United Arab Emirates), Hollywood, Europe (Brussels, Dublin and Amsterdam) and, most recently, APAC (Hong Kong). Every conference is a unique opportunity to learn from others, share my own knowledge and insights, become familiar with emerging industry trends, hear from regulators, get to know new technology that has hit or is about to hit the market and, of course, meet with ACAMS colleagues from around the globe. All of these are benefits in their own right, none of which is to be missed.

AT: What do you hope to accomplish within the AFC space as a member of the ACAMS Thought Leadership team?

GV: Throughout my professional life, I have always sought out opportunities to make an impact. I feel that everything my Thought Leadership colleagues and I do certainly has an impact. I particularly value any occasion to explain or―using a more informal term―unpack complex issues in ways that will (ideally) be understandable to both seasoned compliance people and early-career professionals. Sanctions evasion infographics are a good example. Another relevant example is my work on explaining the application of the so-called 50% rules in the U.S., U.K. and European Union (EU). These rules determine how sanctions should apply based on the level of direct or indirect ownership, as well as, in the case of the EU and U.K., informal control.

AT: What is the most serious financial threat that the world is currently facing?

GV: There are many financial crime threats that pose serious risks to society. Recent years have seen an uptick in crimes relating to human trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation, not least because of the pernicious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that have left many people vulnerable to abuse. Cyber-enabled crimes often go hand in hand with the exploitation of vulnerable individuals by others. The phenomenon of pig butchering, which is widely talked about in international media, is a good illustration. On one end of the spectrum, those who fall victim to romance scams are at risk of losing their lifetime savings, with all the consequences that has for the victims’ financial stability and mental health. On the other end, those who initiate such romance scams are often forced to do so, being themselves victims of modern slavery. I would also point to the new dangers posed by drug trafficking, for instance, as criminals increasingly leverage technology, such as dark web marketplaces and digital assets, to further their illicit enterprises. Synthetic drugs such as fentanyl or Captagon―absolute scourges in the U.S. and across the Middle East, respectively―have also become much easier and cheaper to produce.

AT: What financial crime trends do you expect to see in the coming year?

GV: Ongoing technological disruptions will continue to be a key vector in the evolution of the global financial crime landscape. The leveraging of artificial intelligence (AI) by criminals is a big threat that must be tackled with all seriousness. For instance, the proliferation of deepfakes, a product of generative AI technology, is a threat that is still not sufficiently understood. I think that we are on the verge of seeing the emergence of new types of scams that everyone out there who is supposed to fight them, from regulators and law enforcement to the private sector, will take some time to adapt to. As usual, the longer the time for adaption, the bigger the damage caused.

AT: What do you like to do in your spare time?

GV: In my spare time, I love reading, learning new languages, visiting museums or just walking outside when the sun shines. I may watch a movie or two as well. My must-watch movie list has over 80 titles in it.

Interviewed by: ACAMS Today editorial, ACAMS,

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