With Canada’s recent Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorist Financing (CTF) reforms highlighting the importance of effective AML training, we spoke with Senior Vice President (and AML Subject Matter Expert), Scott McCleskey, to discover why this type of financial crime is more important than ever.
Why has AML/CTF come under the spotlight in recent years?
SM: In Canada, they have enacted recent amendments to their money laundering laws, the result of growing concern within Canada and among the international community over recent years. In spite of its economic stature and reputation, Canada was viewed as lacking an effective legislative and regulatory framework around money laundering and terrorist financing. With stories of duffel bags of cash being deposited in casinos and low-income ‘homemakers’ buying up rows of houses, the spotlight has been burning brightly.
That’s not to say that the financial institutions themselves were falling behind. Some of the most effective programs I’ve seen are in Canadian financial institutions, but the new legislation will further increase demand by placing new requirements on regulated entities and expanding the scope to reach new sectors.
Why is AML training so important?
SM: The importance of AML training cannot be stressed enough. A key message that we deliver is that financial services staff really are on the frontline.
When you think about money laundering, we encourage frontline staff to remember the money that is being moved comes from crimes such as drugs or human trafficking. The criminal networks have a weak point: the actual process of laundering the money.
So while working on the frontline, looking for red flags and acting diligently, can have an important and far-reaching impact on combatting these criminal activities. It may not be the main part of their daily job role, but the value in recognizing and reporting suspicious behavior is of paramount importance.
What prompted you to complete your CAMS accreditation?
SM: The first money laundering cases I worked were many years ago when I was an FBI agent. In the 30 years or so that I’ve been in the financial services industry, money laundering and terrorist financing cases haven’t always been my focus but much of the work I did kept me in the loop on how money laundering and the tools to fight it have changed. This point—the rapid pace of change—has really been brought home to me as I’ve focused on AML and CTF. The Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) certification provides a resource to keep up to speed on these developments and communicates to our clients that our work is informed by Subject Matter Experts who have demonstrated their expertise.
What are the benefits of being an ACAMS member?
SM: Completing the CAMS course provides membership to the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (ACAMS). This provides a wealth of knowledge: written resources, webinars, events, and SME knowledge share.
Before joining ACAMS, staying up to date meant keeping a close eye on communications from the regulators and a constant dialogue with our clients. Of course, I’ll keep doing both of these, but ACAMS opens up a global network that reflects the international nature of financial crime and money laundering, with experts far and wide sharing knowledge and insights.
How does this help LEO GRC keep its AML training up to date?
SM: We always foster a close relationship with our customers, which allows us to get feedback directly from the frontline. This will now be married with insights from ACAMS.
So trending topics, such as correspondent banking and trade-based money laundering, are included in our courses. This is important as the market moves quickly, but crucially, it helps to engage our learners with storytelling and scenarios that are relatable and up to date.
‘Romance fraud’ is currently under the spotlight in Canada and was covered in the CAMS qualification, and has already been fed into our scenarios, case studies and typologies.