We Can Use More Heroes

Kieran Beer

The September-November issue 2019 of ACAMS Today  that you are holding (or reading online) focuses on sanctions but is also “our conference issue” since its release coincides with our annual Las Vegas conference.

Our largest conference, the 18th Annual
AML & Financial Crime Conference
  from September 23 through the 25, is on track at this writing to break previous attendance records with more than 3,000 likely to attend.

The turnout is just one reflection of the phenomenal growth the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) continues to experience, not only in membership—76,000 plus and counting—but also in the number of ACAMS events launched since the last Las Vegas conference.

I had the privilege to attend and participate in many of those events, visiting more than 10 countries, not including the U.S. where we held multiple conferences and seminars, and engaged whole new audiences of anti-financial crime professionals.

These travels have given me a profound sense of the role ACAMS serves in connecting people all over the world by bringing them together in a common cause against financial crime at events, in our publications, podcasts and training for certifications.

“Financial crime costs lives,” said Gemma Rogers, co-founder of London-based consultancy FINTRAIL, during our June Europe conference in Berlin, identifying the “bottom line” for everything ACAMS does.

A keynote speaker from the U.S. Department of Justice on the seizure of assets from transnational criminals and terrorists, an interview with a survivor of human trafficking who helps other survivors, identifying professional money launderers, harnessing artificial intelligence, how public-private collaborations catch financial criminals (including terrorists), how sanctions can take on rogue regimes, and an examination of how financial institutions can identify drug traffickers accessing their institutions are among the topics that will be addressed by the more than 200 speakers in 60 sessions in Las Vegas.

Many of these are recurring ACAMS themes that are supplemented by emerging anti-financial crime topics, all of which matter deeply to members and non-members who attend our conferences.

Of course, content is added to fit the nation hosting the conference but urgency is leavened into all of our efforts given that financial crime does cost lives.

Canada, Dubai, United Kingdom, Poland, Cyprus, Switzerland, Singapore, Curaçao, Barbados and Mexico were among the places ACAMS held conferences, seminars or chapter launches—and those do not include a number of new U.S. events— where I met with ACAMS members, prospective members, government regulators and law enforcement officials.

In the midst of all that travel, I spent a lot of time on jets, which leads me to make a connected observation: the year has been marked by the release of a whole raft of superhero movies, almost all of which did, as they say, “boffo box office.” The movies seem to address the need most of us have to believe that disaster can be surmounted, evil defeated and justice done.

The movies also reflect the need most of us have to feel that we are doing the right thing and helping to create a better world.

This observation connects to the fact that while I did not meet any superheroes at ACAMS events I did meet a lot of people determined to do the heroic, which explains ACAMS’ phenomenal growth. “Opposing evil and seeking justice” gives meaning to our lives.

And, despite the whack-a-mole nature of fighting financial criminals, I heard many stories of how criminal funds were intercepted, terrorists identified and trafficked individuals freed when their traffickers were identified, meaning sometimes you can beat evil and promulgate justice. 

Kieran Beer, CAMS
Chief Analyst, Director of Editorial Content
Follow me on Twitter: @KieranBeer
“Financial Crime Matters with Kieran Beer”

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