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The urgency of prevention against money laundering

In a world in crisis like the one we live in, corruption has a fertile field to operate. The risks are diverse, among them, money laundering, especially because we see it as distant and associate it with drug trafficking and organized crime, leaving aside its risks and, therefore, how we can prevent it.

For this reason, BH Compliance together with FIBA (Financial and International Business Association), held this Wednesday, March 16, the webinar “Money Laundering: Closer than we think”, which featured an interesting panel that covered the topic from different points of view.

The instance began with the reflection of Susana Sierra, CEO of BH Compliance, regarding the importance of becoming aware of crimes such as money laundering and how the global landscape facilitates the way for this to exist. She also referred to the Western world’s sanctions against Russia and how these can give room for corruption, the search for easy solutions and the lack of control over them.

From the point of view of the regulator, Sergio Espinosa, Director of UIF Peru and former President of Gafilat, explained how money laundering has proliferated in Latin America in recent years, which has manifested itself through the creation and use of individuals and legal structures, the use of front men or the splitting of money, to mention a few; and where the most vulnerable sectors are banking, notaries, automotive and real estate. He also referred to the FATF’s efforts to prevent this crime, covering areas such as digital transformation, environmental crimes, data protection or the recovery of cross-border assets, transparency and beneficial ownership.

Daniel Gutiérrez, Vice President & BSA Manager of Ocean Bank, exemplified the ease of money laundering through the case of Guillermo Acevedo, alias “Memo, El Fantasma”, one of the most relevant drug traffickers in Colombia, captured in 2021, after spending a lifetime in Madrid pretending to be a successful businessman. He also explained in detail the difficulty that large legal networks offer in terms of public information, transparency and final beneficiaries.

For his part, Guillermo Horta, Global Head & Chief Anti-Money Laundering Officer of Scotiabank, expressed his concern about how suspicious operations have increased and yet we are less worried than before. In this sense, he emphasized how organized crime adapts to the circumstances and seeks mechanisms to exist, and then how companies can be involved if they do not pay real attention to this, as the good intentions of employees can be pawned for easy money, especially in times of crisis.

Finally, before giving way to questions from the audience, the President & CEO of FIBA, David Schwartz, took the floor and thanked the excellent attendance.