Today the National Bank of Belize (NBB) hosted a first-of-its-kind anti-money laundering compliance workshop and seminar. The seminar was an all-day event and featured a guest speaker; the president of the Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA). According to the general manager of NBB, Alvaro Alamina, this type of training needs to happen on a regular basis so that more people are aware of when illicit activities are taking place.
Alvaro Alamina, General Manager, National Bank of Belize: “We have a lot of practitioners for the banks, the credit unions, the entities like law firms, accountants, casinos, free zones, vehicle owners and they even though they’re regulated by the FIU we decided to invite them to this forum to raise their level of awareness with AML and compliance and in doing that we were able to bring in Mr.David Schwartz, he is the president and CEO of FIBA. FIBA stands for the Florida International Bankers Association and they are one of the biggest advocates with a membership that transcends the Caribbean and outside the US and one of the main bodies that certifies compliance practitioners, meaning firms and banks that have compliance officers/ compliance managers.”
David Schwartz, President, Florida International Bankers Association: “The key is awareness and constantly updating your skill set and your education because money laundering doesn’t stand still, the criminals don’t stand still, they don’t use the same methods on a regular basis. So you need to be constantly updating your skill set, the information on what is currently happening in the field. As a matter of fact we do a lot of certifications, we’ve done a lot of training of compliance officers in Belize but to maintain that certification you are required to have continuing education credit and that forces people to attend seminars like this or take other types of training. Well we talk about what is criminal activity ? What leads to money laundering ? Because people don’t necessarily understand what is money laundering itself. Money laundering is really just taking the proceeds of criminal activity and trying to clean it and put it into the financial system. So we talk about what are the different methods for doing that, how do criminals hide the origination of that activity, how do they tell you “We’re not criminal, everything we’re doing is legal activity.” and that’s important. That’s why awareness is so important as to what types of activities are consistently being used to launder money.”
FIBA’s president, David Schwartz, also gave some signs that can help to identify instances of money laundering.
David Schwartz, President, Florida International Bankers Association: “The first thing you have to find out is what business is this person in and have them actually demonstrate to you that they are operating in that business and that that business justifies the amount of money that is coming into their account and that passes through their account. You know what is that activity, why is there so much money in your account, show me your business because you’d need a big business to be able to conduct this type of activity and if you go and you see they have a little kiosk somewhere and they’re selling cigarettes well how do you have ten million dollars in the bank ? There are a lot of red flags and ways that you can tell what people are doing and what they should be doing.”
NBB and FIBA will be planning future collaborations for more trainings in Belize.