The last few years proved to be transformative for how and where we work. Pushed by the pandemic, many in the anti-financial crime (AFC) community moved into remote-only or hybrid work environments. Many in the AFC community also made a far greater leap and moved across the country to be closer to families and friends or simply to seek better weather, lower taxes and amazing beaches like those found in South Florida. This migration of AFC talent is one of the key drivers for a revitalized, reimagined and growing ACAMS South Florida Chapter. In the throes of the pandemic, countless AFC professionals—many from the greater New York City area—arrived in the Sunshine State and settled near Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach.
These moves did not just make sense for personal reasons—South Florida is not only an important international business and banking hub, but it is also a long-standing, global hub for financial crime. From drug money laundering to mortgage fraud and every type of financial crime in between, South Florida has long been a top spot for illicit financial activity. Our sophisticated financial sector, dynamic hospitality and tourism business, and our status as a global trade, travel and logistical hub, are just a few of the factors that attract money launderers and fraudsters to our area. These factors also make South Florida a natural home for a vibrant community of financial crime fighters and trained professionals dedicated to protecting the best our communities have to offer.
Filled with passion for continuing and enhancing their AFC education, these transplants have begun to join the ACAMS South Florida Chapter’s ranks. Like other global ACAMS chapters, the South Florida Chapter reignited operations in 2022 and focused on offering free webinars for our members. Last year, the chapter hosted six webinars centered on top and emerging risks such as Russia sanctions threats in the region, elder financial exploitation, the abuse of economic citizenship programs by corrupt actors and criminal networks, the use of cryptocurrencies for money laundering purposes, human trafficking and modern slavery, as well as the growth of environmental crimes—such as illegal mining, illegal logging and the illegal wildlife trade—to generate criminal revenues. The chapter hosted excellent speakers from across the U.S. government, including the U.S. Department of the Treasury, as well as innovative technology companies and leading nonprofit organizations.
2023 Chapter Programming
In 2023, the chapter is focusing efforts on more in-person events that will bring AFC professionals back together face-to-face to learn about the top and emerging risks and best practices, as well as to build relationships. The kick-off in-person event will be held in March and this will be the chapter’s first-ever U.S. law enforcement (LE) roundtable. The chapter hopes to bring 2022’s success in the virtual domain to more interactive settings and provide new opportunities for AFC professionals from across the public and private sectors to engage in meaningful ways. The chapter’s goals include enabling dialogue and information sharing, educating members and inspiring the next generation of AFC professionals through partnerships with local universities.
The 2023 chapter programming will offer a mix of virtual and in-person events across the South Florida area (i.e., Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties). In January, for example, for our first virtual event of the year, we hosted Claudia Helms from the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Global Financial Integrity (GFI). Helms discussed illicit financial risks stemming from digital assets, how governments across Latin America and the Caribbean are developing their respective regulatory frameworks and GFI’s data-driven analysis. In February, we hosted another Washington, D.C.-based, innovative nonprofit organization, the Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS), as well as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), to discuss the illegal wildlife trade, related illicit financial activity and how financial institutions can work more closely with nonprofits to share knowledge and proactively mitigate financial crime risks.
For the aforementioned March U.S. LE roundtable, audience members will hear about the top and emerging illicit financial trends and case studies from South Florida LE leaders. They will also learn about the best ways to share information and partner with LE partners.
New Chapter Leadership
In 2022, the chapter welcomed several new board members with extensive and wide-ranging industry experience. These new members bring unique experience, energy and dynamism to the fight against financial crime in South Florida.
• Alek Dvoskin (PayPal) recently moved to South Florida and joined our leadership ranks from the ACAMS Phoenix Chapter, where he oversaw programming and helped the chapter grow significantly in recent years. He offers deep experience in international banking, financial technology (fintech) and the U.S. LE world.
• Jocelyn Baez (Cross River) joined the board and lends an important international banking and fintech perspective to the chapter’s efforts. Before joining Cross River as an FCC Program project manager, she spent six years with HSBC and is a graduate of both Florida International University (FIU) and the University of Florida (UF).
• Alex Egan joined us from Kaufman Rossin, oversees membership engagement, and was recently profiled in an ACAMS Today article, which featured his LE and U.S. Army experience. Prior to joining Kaufman Rossin, he was an associate principal with the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and a former criminal investigator assigned to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Fraud Task Force. Among several degrees, Egan earned a Master of Accounting from the University of Miami.
• New board co-chair Nick Schumann (HSBC) also joined the board in 2022 and brought AFC experience from both his U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Army roles. In the fall of 2022, he authored an article for ACAMS Today on the value that military veterans bring to the AFC community and is heavily involved in local and national efforts to support veterans in their transition to the financial services industry. Like, Baez, he is a proud alum of both UF and FIU.
• Jay Fisher, formerly a sanctions investigator with the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), joined us in 2022 from USAA and lent the chapter his experience in the sanctions arena. Before joining USAA, he served as the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s senior advisor to U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) on illicit finance issues in Latin America and the Caribbean.
• Dan Wager joined us from PwC and brings tremendous experience from his time in U.S. LE, banking and consulting, as well as his prior role helping to build out the ACAMS New York Chapter.
• Lastly, also though not a new board member, it is worth noting that Sissy Oliver-Adams (Protiviti) was profiled in ACAMS Today and by the University of Florida in 2022 for her many contributions to the AFC community.
During the March roundtable, we will honor the important contributions of recently departed board members during an awards ceremony and highlight their efforts to strengthen our local financial crime-fighting community over the years. Thankfully, the board enjoys continuity with the guidance and experience provided by other board members like Brian Frankel (co-chair) and Jeferson Moreira (treasurer).
This is an exciting and unique time to be a member of the AFC community. It is not necessarily an easy time, but our jobs certainly are not boring. New challenges regularly emerge, especially if you work in South Florida. As we know, money launderers and fraudsters never stop innovating or developing schemes to skirt laws and evade scrutiny. Our work as financial crime fighters, therefore, is more important than ever. And one could argue that South Florida is ground zero for this fight. If you recently moved to South Florida or are slowly masterminding your professional escape to the Sunshine State, rest assured that the ACAMS South Florida Chapter will help address your AFC educational needs. Come join the fight and please consider joining our ranks. We need you and your contributions to be the best chapter we can be and further build and strengthen our vibrant community of financial crime fighters.