Early in 2011, the current chair of the ACAMS Netherlands Chapter, Yevgeniya Balyasna-Hooghiemstra, was invited to help establish a chapter in the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg (aka Benelux). Although she did not exactly know what a chapter was at the time, she was really excited about the opportunity to collaborate closely with ACAMS and with the other members in the Netherlands. In June 2011, soon after the initial meeting led by John Byrne, former executive vice president of ACAMS, the launch of the ACAMS Benelux Chapter was announced at the ACAMS Europe conference in Amsterdam. This was the beginning of the ACAMS Netherlands Chapter, the first ACAMS European Chapter, which is now celebrating its 10-year anniversary in June 2021.
Jaap van der Molen, Antal Ruiter and Yevgeniya Balyasna-Hooghiemstra were the pioneers of the chapter. There were initially several brainstorming discussions with Luxembourg colleagues on how to shape the chapter, setting goals, learning about what role it would play in society and trying to fill in the Belgian gap since the chapter was initially launched as the Benelux Chapter. Ultimately, the Benelux Chapter was split into the Netherlands Chapter and the Luxembourg Chapter, as it seemed the most efficient way to organise local chapters.
The first chapter event was held in 2012, which addressed the new legislative changes within transaction monitoring. This event was hosted by ING and the key speakers were a representative from the Dutch Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) as well as ING’s money laundering reporting officer for the Netherlands. This event set the pace that has been kept until today—— bringing representatives from the public and the private sectors to discuss relevant topics during an afternoon session, four to five times a year. It is unfortunate that due to COVID-19, members have not been able to enjoy the benefits of in-person seminars, such as networking sessions and drinks after quality knowledge-sharing discussions facilitated by valuable speakers.
Whilst the chapter was happy to have hosted 15 participants at its first event, the chapter is grateful to have hosted up to 100 participants over the years during its live events. The chapter’s success is the result of the board’s hard work in organising high-quality industry events with excellent speakers and providing members with great networking opportunities. Many people have volunteered to serve on the chapter’s board over the past 10 years, and their contributions have been invaluable.
The ACAMS Netherlands Chapter is lucky to have well-rounded professionals as board members, who dedicate their private time to bringing a tangible difference in the professionalisation of the compliance function. Over the past 10 years, the chapter has organised approximately 20 seminars in partnership with various Dutch financial institutions, consulting companies and prominent speakers including senior experts, researchers and government officials. Sanctions compliance, transaction monitoring challenges, risk assessment and governance, bribery and corruption as well as trade-based money laundering are just a few of the topics that have been covered.
The ACAMS Netherlands Chapter board will continue contributing to the professional development of compliance officers and the anti-money laundering industry, despite the challenges that lie ahead. The chapter cannot wait for in-person events to be possible again in order to offer a platform for professional interaction and engagement. These 10 years of intensive collaboration with and within ACAMS has brought many good friendships that are treasured and greatly appreciated.
Yevgeniya Balyasna-Hooghiemstra, CAMS, chair, ACAMS Netherlands Chapter