May was a busy month as we celebrated Mother's Day and the festivities of Cinco de Mayo going on around Southern California. For members of the ACAMS Southern California Chapter, May was also a month of learning opportunities. As some of our members had traveled to San Francisco to attend the annual West Coast Anti-Money Laundering Forum in the beginning of the month, the chapter had two events lined up in May in Los Angeles and San Diego.
The first event was a very informative afternoon session on the topic of "Legal Gambling in California" hosted at the Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens on May 10th where members got to experience the setting of a local casino/card club. Our speaker, Mr. Elijah Zuniga of Elijah Zuniga Consulting Inc., has been a consultant for the California gaming industry (non-Tribal) since 2003 and was formerly a law enforcement officer with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, San Diego Police Department and Special Agent with the California Department of Justice's Division of Gambling Control. Mr. Zuniga shared his wealth of knowledge in all aspects of legal and illegal gaming in California with an audience of over 30 chapter members and other guests from the gambling industry.
The fun and interesting session was kicked off by Mr. Zuniga with a series of facts and trivia quiz about the gaming industry in California with prizes of chocolates and candies. Mr. Zuniga went on to provide an overview of the history and development of legal gambling in California, types of legal and illegal gambling activities in California, government agencies and the laws and regulations governing the operations and AML compliance for the gaming industry, a comparison of gaming industry in California and other states around the country and also the future development and outlook for the industry in California.
For those who have missed this event, the presentation is shared and posted on the ACAMS Southern California Chapter's webpage.
The second event was the first of a series of neighborhood roundtables held on May 15th in San Diego. Thanks to our sponsors Union Bank who kindly hosted the event and Agreeya Solutions for providing lunch for the attendees. The purpose of the roundtable events was to provide an opportunity for local BSA professionals to congregate, network, and share their recent BSA experiences and challenges. This first event of the roundtable series was attended by BSA professionals from banks, money services businesses, investment and insurance brokers as well as consulting professionals in the San Diego area.
Hoi Luk and Andrea Winter of the SoCal chapter board moderated the event.
The lively discussions started off with the SAR decision process, continued SAR filings, and closure of accounts based on a certain number of continuous SAR filings. Since the group also comprised of professionals from MSBs, an oldie but goodie topic was revisited : What are the risks of MSB that banks perceived and the reason(s) why a lot of banks have chosen not to "bank" MSBs; and conversely, what can the MSBs do to help alleviate/mitigate the initial risks for banks? The discussion went so far as to challenge a bank's understanding of MSBs, their activities, what due diligence should be conducted, and the strength of the BSA program to monitor the MSB activities. Most financial institutions do not bank MSBs as policy, due primarily to a lack of resources.
Other topics that were discussed included:
Marijuana dispensaries; ancillary services tied to marijuana (e.g., hydroponics); lessors of office space to dispensaries; Remote Deposit Capture, Virtual Currencies (Bitcoin), Square Personal Credit Card readers/customers; third party payment processors, FRAML, and the tracking and handling of recent regulatory enforcement actions/orders.
Most of the attendees were very engaged and contributed to the discussions, and preliminary and informal feedback indicated the roundtable event was beneficial and well-received with some good take-aways. The event was concluded with a raffle for the attendees.
The chapter will have several more events coming up over the next few months. Most events are offered to Chapter members for free. For details of these events and to join the ACAMS Southern California Chapter, please go to our chapter webpage on ACAMS.org.
Our next event is the Social Mixer on July 25, 2013 at the Irvine Marriott from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.