Financial crime compliance jobs booming, but skills needed to stand out, jobs matchmaker says

Date: January 29, 2014
By: Daniela Guzman

Finding a job in the financial industry is not always easy, but one prominent job matchmaker says financial institutions have been on a hiring spree for compliance professionals to improve their financial crime prevention and compliance. Compliance has become an indispensable investment for financial institutions and other corporations, says Jack Kelly, Managing Director of Compliance Search Group, LLP, in New York.

Institutions and companies seeking to build and maintain robust compliance programs are looking for persons with demonstrable expertise in all areas of financial crime and verifiable skills and knowledge. talked with Kelly for an in-depth look at how the compliance job market has changed and is developing.

His experience in recruiting has given him an inside look at how compliance jobs have grown in demand, status and salary. He says the hiring trend will continue, as companies place more importance on making sure their practices are in line with the law.

Threat Finance counts on financial institutions, commercial suppliers and corruption to thrive, says expert Don Semesky

 Though they may be unaware of it, the emerging field of threat finance impacts nearly every financial institution and hundreds of commercial enterprises, especially those with multinational operations. First coined by US military officials a few years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, threat finance describes the funds flowing into or out of a wide range of national security threats, from terrorism to drug trafficking to foreign corruption to human trafficking and others, as well as efforts to choke off this financing.

Don Semesky, one of the world’s noted achievers and thought leaders in financial crime control, who was a Special Agent of the Internal Revenue Service and later formed the Office of Financial Operations of the US Drug Enforcement Administration, provides fascinating insight into threat finance in this ACFCS Financial CrimeCast. Semesky assisted in the launch of the Afghan Threat Finance Center, which became a vital element in combating terrorist organizations there and in the region.

Semesky will be a featured speaker at the ACFCS Financial Crime Conference February 5-7 in New York and serve on the Threat Finance panel.

In this ACFCS podcast he explains how threat finance intersects with financial institutions and commercial companies.

Now the principal of Financial Operations Consultants, in Washington, DC, he guides listeners on how military and law enforcement agencies in the US and other countries target the funding of the criminal networks that are behind national security threats.

He also shows how corruption plays a key role in facilitating various major threats, terrorism and narcotics trafficking, and gives best practices that institutions and businesses can use to guard against being exploited by threat actors.

(Don Semesky will be one of five experts dissecting the financing of national security threats and how private sector institutions are involved, legitimately and illegitimately, on the Threat Finance panel at the ACFCS Financial Crime Conference & Exhibition, Feb. 5- 7, 2014 at the Marriott Marquis in New York. More than 40 other renowned experts will join him as speakers on the 13 practical, timely panels of the conference. To register or to download the conference brochure, go to

For rewards of online investigation, first protect identity, says OSINT expert Sandra Stibbards

Date: January 14, 2014
By: Brian Kindle

Open sources online can offer extremely rich information and intelligence in virtually any type of financial crime investigation, from hunting fraudsters to conducting due diligence. However, online investigative and due diligence work can also be perilous.

Professionals who do not protect their identities risk not only tipping off the subject of their investigation, but also exposing themselves to retaliation and retribution.

In this ACFCS Financial CrimeCast, open-source intelligence expert and veteran fraud investigator Sandra Stibbards provides crucial guidance on pursuing an investigative subject on the internet. In this preview of her more detailed presentation at the ACFCS Financial Crime Conference & Exhibition, February 5-7, in New York, she shows how to protect and “anonymize” oneself while performing open source investigations.

She also equips listeners with practical online techniques they can use in their jobs, and gives examples of how privacy protection has played a critical role in her own real-world investigations.

(Sandra Stibbards will be a featured speaker at the ACFCS Financial Crime Conference & Exhibition, February 5-7, 2014, at the Marriott Marquis in New York. In her standalone session, she will teach essential investigative skills in the panel, “OSINT and You – Exploiting Open Source Intelligence and Social Media for Better Compliance, Investigations and Due Diligence.” The conference will bring 33 other speakers on 13 panels covering other vital subjects like FATCA, virtual currency, cybersecurity, data analytics, AML and FCPA. To register and for more information, please visit


Virtual currencies under eye – and rules – of FinCEN, Director Shasky Calvery says in ACFCS podcast

Listen below

shaskyVirtual currencies are «gaining traction in the United States and around the world as a legitimate payment system,» FinCEN Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery, said in a podcast on on November 13.

Director Shasky made clear, however, that “virtual currencies appear as a new player in the payment system and at FinCEN, as with the other payment systems, we ask them to comply with AML controls.»

The former federal prosecutor who is the immediate past Chief of the Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section of the US Department of Justice, said «virtual currencies are subject to US regulations (and) FinCEN used guidance clarifying that people who use Bitcoin for personal use are not subject to regulation (and) would be considered users of virtual currencies.»

Virtual currency exchangers deemed MSBs under Bank Secrecy Act rules

She said virtual currency «exchangers are covered by regulations, they fall under the MSB (money services business)» category. Central (virtual currency) administrators would also be covered by regulations.»

The FinCEN Director recalled the «special measures» FinCEN imposed on a virtual currency firm, Liberty Reserve, when then allegations surfaced that it was involved in laundering more than $6 billion.

Director Shasky mentioned that the users of one of the best-known virtual currencies, Bitcoin, «processed transactions worth approximately $8 billion over the 12 month period preceding October 2013.» She said this figure «may be artificially high due to the extensive use of automated layering in many Bitcoin transactions.»

On March 18, 2013, FinCEN supplemented its MSB regulations with guidance clarifying the applicability of Bank Secrecy Act regulations to persons creating, distributing, exchanging, accepting or transmitting virtual currencies.

11 characteristics of virtual currency

A few days after her podcast, the FinCEN Director testified before the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. She cited the following 11 benefits and characteristics of virtual currency:

  1. Enables the user to remain relatively anonymous;
  2. Is relatively simple for the user to navigate;
  3. May have low fees;
  4. Is accessible across the globe with a simple Internet connection;
  5. Can be used both to store value and make international transfers of value;
  6. Does not typically have transaction limits;
  7. Is generally secure;
  8. Features irrevocable transactions;
  9. Depending on the system, may have been created with the intent (and added features) to facilitate money laundering;
  10. If it is decentralized, has no administrator to maintain information on users and report suspicious activity to governmental authorities;
  11. Can exploit weaknesses in the anti-money laundering/counter terrorist financing regimes of various jurisdictions, including international disparities in, and a general lack of, regulations needed to effectively support the prevention and detection of money laundering and terrorist financing.


For FATCA compliance success, corporations need systems that meet global changes, says Chris McAuley of SAS

With the July 1, 2014, deadline approaching for financial institutions worldwide to comply with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010, many are searching for the right strategies to meet the challenges the landmark law and regulations of the US Internal Revenue Service impose.
From the US tax evasion scandals arising in Switzerland in the mid-2000s that shaped FATCA, to what faces institutions in 2014 and 2015, Chris McAuley, the SAS Director of Fraud and Financial Crime, guides financial crime professionals in this ACFCS Crimecast.

Interviewed by ACFCS President, Charles Intriago, McAuley explains the likelihood that 70 to 75 other countries will enter into Intergovernmental Agreements with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS has already signed nine other so-called IGAs. All of them add to the compliance burdens of financial institutions in the affected countries, including the United States. In this podcast, McAuley details the compliance issues and solutions that work best for financial institutions in meeting the responsibilities brought on by one of the most controversial and far-reaching laws enacted in our time.

As financial crime terrain grows, the need for good expert witnesses expands also, recruiter says

Becoming an expert witness is a common career goal for financial crime specialists. For government specialists this goal often blossoms in late-career. Not all aspiring expert witnesses recognize the importance of self-promotion or the tools they should use to spread their skills and availability to wider circles. Testifying in adversarial proceedings often forces expert witnesses to explain complex concepts to a body of lay persons and face unfriendly cross-examination. The ability to project the ability to confront these challenges well often is the key to success. The work of expert witnesses often marks the difference between success and failure in a case.

Melinda Starbird

Melinda Starbird

Serving as an expert witness is not easy, but can be rewarding professionally and financially. It allows professionals to capitalize on the knowledge they acquired over many years. In this ACFCS Financial Crimecast, ACFCS president Charles Intriago, a former federal prosecutor, interviews Melinda Starbird, Vice President and Managing Director of Expert Witness Services at DOAR Litigation Consulting, in Seattle. She details what an expert should do to become a successful expert witness in the financial crime arena.

Starbird, who earned a law degree but does not practice law, recruits expert witnesses for cases in which DOAR provides litigation support. She explains why she looks for persons with government experience, provides guidance on “personal branding” and explains its importance, cites the value of professional certifications and outlines how persons with specific expertise should price their services as expert witnesses.

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Prosecutor of Wegelin Bank dissects far-reaching US-Swiss agreement, shows dangers to US correspondent banks

Date: September 24, 2013

The historic accord of August 29 between the United States and Switzerland, which imposes harsh and expensive penalties on Swiss banks for aiding and abetting US tax evasion, is remarkable for several reasons, including the surprising fact that Switzerland, the world’s most famous tax secrecy haven, would agree to it at all.

Levy, Daniel

Daniel W. Levy

Yet the ‘Non-Prosecution, Non-Target’ program contained in the agreement is a direct result of the recent major US cases against Swiss banks, UBS and Wegelin & Co. Daniel W. Levy, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York, led the 2012 prosecution of Wegelin. The 274-year-old financial institution pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy and paid $74 million in forfeiture and fines before permanently shuttering its doors.

In this ACFCS Financial Crimecast, Levy, now a principal at McKool Smith, in New York, talks with ACFCS president Charles Intriago and dissects the terms, consequences and implications of the unprecedented US-Swiss program. He details the risks that US correspondent banks face under the program and explains how it reserves the harshest penalties for Swiss banks that opened accounts for US tax evaders after the US government’s action against UBS concluded.

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Reducing cybercrime risk requires ‘IT governance’ and more, says e-risk expert Allison Walton

AJWDate: September 18, 2013

Few areas of financial crime are evolving more rapidly, or posing more sophisticated threats, than cybercrime, which has spawned a whole industry in cybersecurity and a growing number of specialized compliance officers. As cyber criminals deploy new strategies to pierce the digital defenses of organizations, cybersecurity stakeholders are struggling to improve and replace outdated and inadequate protections.

To counter data security threats, financial crime professionals should adopt cybersecurity strategies such as identifying trends for proper monitoring, assessing and minimizing data security risks, and training specialized staff in this rapidly changing field.

In this ACFCS Financial Crimecast, Allison Walton, e-risk consultant and principal at Fortis Quay in Ojai, California, trains financial crime professionals to avoid digital landmines and comply with expanding cybersecurity obligations. She highlights recent legislation that impacts the field, including the US Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act and the Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2013. And she outlines practical ways institutions and commercial companies can mitigate their vulnerability to data breaches and other cyber threats.

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Leveraging AML systems can simplify FATCA duties, Scotiabank’s Chief AML Officer, Ron King, explains

Date: September 4, 2013

As the countdown to full implementation of the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act of 2010 approaches, financial institutions everywhere on the globe are looking for ways to facilitate the creation of systems that will ease compliance with the many new reporting, withholding and due diligence duties. This is especially true in countries that have not yet signed an Intergovernmental Agreement under FATCA with the United States. Canada is one of these countries.

An IGA, as it is known, typically specifies additional duties and procedures that financial institutions and other commercial entities must follow in the country signing an IGA with the US.

In this ACFCS Financial Crimecast, Ron King, Senior Vice President of Corporate and Canadian Compliance and Chief AML Officer of Scotiabank, a highly-respected authority on regulatory compliance and member of the ACFCS Advisory Board, provides timely and practical advice on FATCA implementation and compliance to institutions in all countries. In plain English, he guides listeners on how to leverage their existing anti-money laundering and US Bank Secrecy Act compliance policies and procedures into their FATCA compliance.

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Institutions complying with FATCA must know how to operate the ‘Engine on the FATCA Train’

Date: August 27, 2013

The US Internal Revenue Service reached a major milestone in the history of the 2010 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) on August 19, 2013, when it launched the online registration system for the thousands of financial institutions worldwide that must comply with the law.

Although the IRS released a lengthy user guide for the user institutions on operating the ‘FATCA Portal,’ many of them have lingering concerns, such as who must register? Must the designated ‘FATCA Responsible Officer’ utilize the portal? Who will have access to the information?


Hugh Campbell

In this ACFCS Financial Crimecast, Hugh Campbell, Senior Vice President of Regulatory Reporting for AxiomSL, guides you on the portal and answers these and other questions. He explains the opportunities and pitfalls of distinct FATCA registration classifications, the valuable resources that the IRS user guide contains, and the registration deadlines applicable to institutions.


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More from this Financial Crime 360:

Corporate security officers play vital role in financial crime functions, a far cry from bygone duties

US court approves first US Internal Revenue Service ‘John Doe’ summons to help track foreign nation’s tax evaders