The recent ACAMS conference in Hollywood, FL, served as a pivotal platform for stakeholders in the financial industry to converge and strategize on combating illicit finance, enhancing compliance measures, and addressing emerging threats. Here’s a comprehensive recap of the key highlights and insights from the event: 

Focus on Preventing Financing to Conflict Zones:

Regulators and financial institutions (FIs) emphasized the importance of preventing funds and materials from reaching conflict zones, particularly in the context of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. 

Efforts are directed towards understanding ownership structures and fostering collaboration to detect and disrupt illicit finance across multiple jurisdictions. 

Launch of Cross-Border Financial Crime Center (CBFCC):

Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) introduced the CBFCC, a public-private partnership aimed at strengthening the detection and disruption of multi-jurisdictional illicit finance. 

The initiative targets transnational criminal organizations, tax evaders, terrorists, and kleptocrats, enhancing law enforcement’s ability to trace proceeds back to criminal actors. 

Heightened Importance of KYC Post-Russian Invasion:

KYC measures have assumed greater significance in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, with regulators emphasizing vigilance and collaboration among departments to mitigate risks and combat fraud effectively. 

Regulatory Vigilance and Collaboration:

Regulatory bodies such as the FDIC, SEC, OCC, Federal Reserve, and FinCEN underscored the need for collaboration and vigilance across sectors to address evolving threats and compliance requirements. 

Future of Sanctions and Export Controls:

The financial industry is increasingly tasked with enforcing sanctions, particularly against entities involved in geopolitical conflicts like the Russia-Ukraine crisis. 

Attention is also directed towards export controls, with regulators emphasizing collaboration and diligence to prevent the acquisition of sensitive technology by hostile entities. 

Leveraging Technology and Addressing Emerging Threats:

The integration of AI introduces new challenges, including the risk of deep fakes and social media fraud, necessitating collaboration between IT and financial professionals to stay ahead of evolving threats. 

Combatting Human Trafficking and Forced Labor:

Survivors and activists highlighted the prevalence of forced labor and human trafficking, urging greater awareness and action to prevent the misuse of financial systems for criminal purposes.

Insights from Compliance Professionals and Law Enforcement:

Compliance professionals stressed the importance of accountability and collaboration, urging colleagues to have a seat at the table and raise concerns regarding financial crimes. 

Law enforcement officials highlighted emerging trends such as check fraud and emphasized the need for swift action to address sophisticated fraud schemes. 

The ACAMS Hollywood conference provided a forum for industry stakeholders to exchange insights, strategies, and best practices in combating financial crime. By fostering collaboration, leveraging technology, and enhancing compliance measures, the financial industry aims to strengthen its resilience against evolving threats and uphold the integrity of the global financial system.