InsightFinance interview

Interview with Iain Stewart for the InsightFinance Money Laundering Conference in Copenhagen 8-9 October 2019.

With your global view what threats/tendencies do you see in AML/CFT/sanctions area?

Lack of understanding of the true cross-border threat of US sanctions – which implicitly include AML and CTF violations. Apparent violations of US sanctions are enough to warrant US authorities forcing major settlements and penalties, and this can occur outside the US, outside US dollar transactions and with non-US based firms. The EU, the UN and the US do not have aligned approaches, which is a major threat for non-US firms who will face the harshest US penalties if they do not get in line with the fully integrated US sanctions and AML/CTF playbook. The US has the only credible, integrated sanctions and AML/CTF programme, and is extremely powerful and far more of a threat than any other national sanctions or AML regime around the world.

Should we worry about anything in particular in the Nordics/Denmark?

If Nordic firms do not adopt a globally applicable, OFAC sanctions and AML/CTF strategy, and hire experts who know what they are doing, they will face major penalties from the US – or worse. Currently, there is no workable legal protection from US enforcement globally. The problem is mainly that Nordic and Danish companies are not used to dealing with extra-territorial international law – which works against legal norms but is very real.

What can we expect from your presentation?

I will show in my presentation ‘Establishing global/local programmes – safeguarding against international breaches that the US cross-border, integrated sanctions and AML/CTF programme represents a threat to all businesses. Firms and individuals as well as governments need to understand that EU and UN measures are different in their application and do not pose nearly the same threat. Illicit transactions and financial crime are a massive problem globally, and countries like Denmark and those in the Nordics represent easy targets for criminals to launder illicit proceeds of crime, or finance acts of terror. Having a local-global sanctions and AML policy is essential for safeguarding against international breaches.

Finally, you have just released your new book, could you tell us a bit about it? Who is it for and what can you learn from it?

The book ‘CROSS-BORDER SANCTIONS & AML’ is directed at practitioners and professionals who want to see how the weaponisation of the US dollar, post-9/11, has given the US so much leverage in sanctions and AML fines. It reveals that all companies – US and non-US alike – need to step up their efforts to support their operations with a comprehensive sanctions and AML programme. Otherwise, they face major million/billion dollar settlements from the US, possibly being cut off from US dollars and the entire US market, and major shareholder lawsuits. From 2008-2018, the US issued 91% – in terms of value some $23.52bn – of all fines around the world – with many multi-billion dollar fines as well as actions which led to firms closing down, and entire jurisdictions and firms being cut off from the US dollar and US market. This is an existential threat which my book describes in great detail. From a legal perspective, the US does not have to show the same burden of proof to force a settlement – “apparent” violations are sufficient. This is a far lower bar than for the rest of the world – where corporate guilt is ordinarily very hard to determine.

To find out more about the Conference or book tickets directly with InsightFinance here