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The Congress recognized that money laundering is a global phenomenon that does not respect borders.
Progress has been made in developing a reasonably consistent and comprehensive global regime to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism—the global AML regime for short.
But more attention should have been paid to what works and what does not work in using the regime to reduce the incidence of the underlying crimes.
In the wake of the collapse of the Bretton Woods regime of fixed exchange rates, the oil crises, and the temporary build-up of so-called petrodollars, and financial crises in countries like the United Kingdom and Mexico, Church was critical of the fact that US bank supervisors did not have complete information on the international activities of US banks.
This concern provoked the US supervisors to initiate the country exposure lending survey of US banking organizations.
The focus of enforcement is more on gotcha mistakes by institutions covered in implementing the regime than on using it for the purposes for which it was intended.
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The community of the regulated should take more initiative than they appear to have to date to encourage senior policymakers to pull back the stormtroopers and to give greater attention to the basic objectives of the AML regime.We used our power and influence to raise international awareness and standards. The Anti-Bribery Convention of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) came into force only 20 years later.The convention, in turn, was slowly implemented by some of the original signatories.This fact poses a challenge to the establishment of a common set of standards and practices and in ensuring consistent compliance with those standards.The same issue of the intersection of law enforcement with global standards arose a decade later when, in the wake of the Asian financial crises, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and various other organizations were encouraged to promulgate and assess compliance with important internationally agreed standards and codes.Fortunately, calmer heads prevailed and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision in 1988 issued guidance about the obligations of banks to know their customers, avoid certain transactions, and cooperate with the law enforcement authorities.The lesson that I took from this experience was that national supervision and law enforcement cultures differ in many respects.I am conscious of the fact that I am delivering these reflections five days after the tragedy in Orlando, Florida.That horrific attack again focused national attention on terrorism—one of the predicate activities addressed by the global AML regime.I want to thank EY and Steve Beattie for the invitation to make some introductory remarks at this symposium on anti–money laundering and financial crimes compliance.I will reflect on my intersections with anti–money laundering (AML) during my government and post-government career over the past four decades. My takeaway lesson is that a lot has changed over the past 40 years.