THE MAGAZINE

Interrupting the Wash Cycle

By Laura Spadanuta

That’s a sharp contrast to the old days when criminals would have to surrepticiously hand off briefcases full of cash, notes Michael Hearns, an anti-money- laundering consultant.

Solutions

Countering new tactics as criminals adapt them is never easy. As mentioned earlier, it takes awhile for the legislation to catch up to the new money-laundering practices. It also takes time for law enforcement and others to change their mind-set.

“We’re still chasing cash at the same time as...our money launderers are learning not to use cash,” says Turner, who points out that it can also be difficult to differentiate between legitimate digital transactions and illegitimate ones.

Progress, however, is being made. Compliance departments and detection mechanisms have become more robust in the past decade. There are now many of government databases to help with due diligence, and there are services like International Trade Alert that can help curb money-laundering attempts on trades.

But this progress is always at risk, because compliance officers face internal pressures. They are considered a cost center for the bank, says Dennis Lormel, president of DML Associates LLC and former FBI special agent. Additionally, Rijock points out that due to the bad economy, there may be internal strife in the bank when compliance officers become suspicious of accounts.

Global efforts. The global movement to curb money laundering has led to increased scrutiny on tax havens. At a recent Group of 20 summit meeting, the attending countries approved an agreement which was developed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Council of Europe that is aimed at making countries be more transparent about who financial institution account holders are.

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