Applying Lessons from Headline-Making Enforcement Actions to Solidify Your Risk Management Strategy

On Monday, January 26, Associations of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (hereon ACAMS) held its Third Annual AML Risk Management Conference at The Conrad Hotel in downtown New York. Over the course of this week, summaries and takeaways from the key notes and panel discussions will be shared in this blog.

  • Kieran Beer, CAMS, Editor-In-Chief at ACAMS at
  • Arthur Middlemiss, Esq., CAMS, Partner, Lewis Baach Pllc
  • Jonathan Lopez, Partner, Orrick Herrington and Sutcliffe LLP
  • David Szuchman, Executive Assistant Attorney and Chief of Investigation Division, New York County District Attorney’s Office

HeaderThis panel consisted of three present or former prosecutors. Discussion topics ranged from prevention to remediation for both firms and individuals. These topics were discussed under the context of headline grabbing media reports about large banks. Here are ten takeaways:

  1. Three things for firms and individuals to do to show wrongdoing was not criminal: SELF IDENTIFY wrongdoing, SELF REPORT to regulators, and SELF REMEDIATE wrongdoing with either corrections or plan to correct. – Arthur Middlemiss
  2. Firms and individuals must keep up with the news to avoid common inadequacies that are found; it is expected for them.
  3. Risk Assessment programs are a firm’s first and best line of defense against criminal action.
  4. Criminal action against a firm used to be the said firm’s death sentence, but prosecutors have gone out of their way to make sure it isn’t by timing information flow and the market so that the criminal firm’s shareholders do not take a direct hit while firm’s cash takes a direct hit with penalties.
  5. Willful ignorance is the worst defense for an individual both just as a professional and as a defense for wrongdoing. Willful ignorance is part of the crime.
  6. Compliance Officers are asked to bear more professional risk. With it are higher compensation and higher professional risk. Try to avoid the risk from the very beginning, including negotiating during job interviews/offers.
  7. In negotiating a Deferred Prosecution Agreements, don’t over-promise because DPA’s are conditional.
  8. Compliance programs are an affirmative defense. Need to have them, need them to be implemented, and need documentation showing effort to get the rest of the firm involved.
  9. Some offenses lead to investigation and review into other issues. Such are AML-related offenses, which could trigger a review of the bank charter.
  10. Keep in mind that it is difficult to keep a firm out of compliance at the civil level, but there’s no excuse for not figuring out what it takes to keep the firm out of crimes.

About the Author: Marcus Maltempo is a compliance professional with more than a decade of experience helping banks, law firms and clients manage investigations and regulatory responses.
He tweets @MoneyCompliance