One Year with the ACAMS Switzerland Chapter

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The ultimate objective of the ACAMS Switzerland Chapter is to become part of ACAMS’ global network whilst addressing the specific challenges of the local environment. The chapter strives to broaden information and expertise sharing across industries in Switzerland. To reach this goal, the chapter will liaise with other relevant professional associations, authorities, the private sector and academia to organise anti-financial crime and regulatory compliance-focused events whilst strengthening the network of anti-money laundering (AML) compliance professionals based in Switzerland.

The Switzerland Chapter board was formed in January 2019. The board includes nine specialists with solid expertise in anti-financial crime compliance and regulatory affairs. The board members are financial industry professionals and independent entrepreneurs based across the German- and French-speaking regions of Switzerland.

The Switzerland Chapter is chaired by Audrey Milesi, who is supported by two vice-chairs. ‘Switzerland’s recent years’ efforts to fight the pernicious effect of financial crime show that the country benefits from a quite unique international blend of people, ready and unified to tackle money laundering and tax evasion,’ said Milesi.

Given the demographics and the different languages spoken across Switzerland, the chapter conducts events in English in both Geneva and Zurich. In its first year, the chapter held two events in Zurich in May and November, and one in Geneva in September.

The Inaugural Event in Zurich

ACAMS hosted the Switzerland Chapter launch and gala networking reception in Zurich on 9 May 2019. Over 150 participants from academia, consultancies, the financial industry, law firms, not-for-profit organisations, the pharmaceutical industry, law enforcement and technology companies attended the highly successful event.

The event was opened with a welcome address by ACAMS Head of EMEA Angela Salter. Following was the keynote address delivered by Daniel Thelesklaf, head of Switzerland’s Financial Intelligence Unit, the Money Laundering Reporting Office, Switzerland (MROS).

In his keynote speech, Thelesklaf welcomed the newly founded Switzerland Chapter and recognised it as a next step to improve anti-financial crime efforts. Thelesklaf’s view is aligned with that of ACAMS President and Managing Director Rohit Sharma, who believes the following,

‘ Anti-financial crime professionals are faced with a constantly evolving regulatory and technological environment that requires the latest intelligence, expertise, tools and relevant connections to effectively deal with issues related to governance, risk management and compliance. Understanding the latest AML issues and attaining relevant knowledge and best practices can have a significant impact on the efforts to both detect and prevent financial crime.’1

The panel discussions moderated by ACAMS Chief Analyst/Director of Editorial Content Kieran Beer covered updates to the Swiss regulatory regime with a focus on CDB 20 and the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) AML Ordinance, the EU Blacklist, EU golden visa and passport schemes, regtech and cryptocurrency risks.

The Inaugural Event in Geneva

The Switzerland Chapter organised a second inaugural event in Geneva on 17 September 2019. The event gathered more than 100 professionals from Switzerland’s French-speaking region and covered topics relevant to the compliance sector. Professionals nurtured their compliance knowledge with a meaningful discussion on the lessons learned from recent FINMA enforcement actions, artificial intelligence as a means to fight financial crime and the application of pattern/entity recognition to detect fraudulent activities in the industry.

Year-end Event in Zurich

In November 2019, the Switzerland Chapter held its second event in Zurich that focused on reviewing the year from an AML and regulatory perspective.

Less than two days after registration opened, the event was fully booked. Over 60 compliance professionals gathered to listen to a panel discussion on the significant regulatory environment changes in 2019. The discussion also covered how these changes will impact not only the year ahead but the daily operations of professionals working in the compliance industry in Switzerland as well. Other topics discussed included the role of the compliance officer, enhanced due diligence as well as updates on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) code of conduct for Swiss banks with regard to exercising due diligence.

Looking Forward

The Switzerland Chapter intends to hold four events a year in rotating locations to ensure professionals across the country have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas.

The chapter is currently planning an autumn event in Geneva and a subsequent event in Zurich prior to the year end.

In addition to planning events, securing speakers and discussing relevant topics, the Switzerland Chapter board members are making connections with other ACAMS Chapters. The board is liaising with other chapters for information and ideas as well as speaking and attending events hosted by these other chapters.

Finally, the chapter board members have been highly involved in the development of the Certified Global Sanctions Specialist (CGSS) and Advanced CAMS-Risk Management (CAMS-RM) certifications, thereby extending the chapter’s network to other subject-matter experts.

For more information about the Switzerland Chapter, its events or to discuss sponsorship possibilities for future events, please contact the chapter at SwitzerlandChapter@acams.org. Details on upcoming events will be posted on https://www.acams.org/acams-chapters/switzerland/#events and in the ACAMS Switzerland Chapter LinkedIn group.

Cristina Fleckenstein, CAMS, compliance officer, Credit Suisse AG, Switzerland; founding board member, ACAMS Switzerland Chapter, hidalcri@gmail.com

Sine Edal, CAMS, CFE, anti-financial crime specialist and forensic investigator, Zurich, Switzerland; founding board member, ACAMS Switzerland Chapter, sineedal@gmail.com

1 “ACAMS Launches Chapter in Switzerland,” Business Wire, 9 May 2019, https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20190509005153/en/ACAMS-Launches-Chapter-Switzerland

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