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Upcoming Miami conference to focus on fighting money laundering

More than 700 banking and financial institutions from 19 countries throughout Central and South America will be represented

Posted: January 25, 2005

The FIBA/CSBS Anti Money Laundering & USA Patriot Act Compliance Conference, set up to help the world's financial industry fight money laundering, will be held in Miami, Florida, February 9-11, 2005.

Organizers of the conference say it aims to educate financial institutions on compliance in today's regulatory environment, including complying with the provisions of the USA Patriot Act, and to help these institutions maintain "a competitive edge by utilizing modern technology and best practices."

The event will feature professionals in the legal, regulatory, and financial industries who will update conference attendees on new legislation and recommend practical compliance solutions. The conference is designed for money transmitters in the United States and abroad, financial regulators, compliance officers, private banking managers, trade finance managers, broker dealers, attorneys, and accountants.

Organizers for the conference include the Federation of Latin American Banks, which represents more than 700 banking and financial institutions from 19 countries throughout Central and South America, and the non-profit Florida International Bankers Association, which represents more than 70 U.S. and foreign banks from 18 countries. That association's executive director, Pat Roth, says that under the USA Patriot Act, "everyone in the financial industry is now subject to new laws and regulations, not just banks." Broker dealers, money transmitters, check cashiers, and other financial entities in the United States and Latin America "need to understand their responsibilities and obligations" under the Patriot Act, said Roth.

The USA Patriot Act, signed into law by President Bush in 2001, is designed to expand intelligence and law enforcement capability to identify and disrupt terrorist activities.

A number of participants from the U.S. government are scheduled to speak at the Miami event, including William Fox, director of the U.S. Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN); Lester Joseph, acting chief of the U.S. Department of Justice's Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section; and Herbert Biern, senior associate director of the Federal Reserve Board's Division of Supervision and Regulation. Other speakers include John O'Hara, senior investigative counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs; and Carter McDowell, chief counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives' Committee on Financial Services.

The Treasury Department's FinCEN says money laundering involves criminals who disguise financial assets by converting them into seemingly legitimate income. FinCEN says money laundering can have "devastating social consequences." For instance, money laundering provides funds for drug dealers, terrorists, arms dealers, and other criminals to operate and expand their criminal enterprises. Left unchecked, money laundering can erode the integrity of national financial institutions, says FinCEN.

Organizers of the Miami conference say that for more than two decades, the financial industry has played an important role in the fight against money laundering. Originally asked to help in the war against illicit drugs and money laundering related to the illegal drug trade, the financial industry is now "doing its part to help prevent the use of the financial system to fund terrorism or other illicit activities," the organizers say.

Conference organizers add that both banking regulators and the financial industry have taken their additional responsibilities under the USA Patriot Act "very seriously," with banks making significant investments in sophisticated software and hiring additional staff, while the regulatory bodies have issued severe penalties in the form of "cease and desist orders" and monetary fines for banks and other financial entities that have not met the strict compliance guidelines under the USA Patriot Act.

More information about the Miami conference is available online at: http://www.antimoneylaundering-fiba.com/index.asp

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer


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