Sunday marked 10 years since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks forever changed our focus on threats to US security. Last week, SAS hosted the 7th annual Terrorism Financing and Money Laundering Forum, a day of information sharing among the key players from both the public and private sectors in the fight against terrorism and financial crimes. This year’s event featured another strong line-up of speakers and sessions that are as relevant today as ever before.
A video tribute, “10 Years After 9/11,” opened the conference, followed by welcome remarks from SAS CEO Jim Goodnight; Lisa Grigg, Global AML Executive for North America and BSA Officer, Bank of America; Glenn McCoy, CFO at RBC Bank; Jim Candelmo, Executive Director and BSA Officer at Ally Financial; and Thomas G. Walker, US Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
McCoy summed up the purpose of the conference by saying, “On behalf of those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect our freedom, our unrelenting obligation is to apply our technology, our processes and our people to the task of ensuring terrorists do not get the chance to use our financial system to fund their war on our nation.”
Walker underscored that point when he said, “We have no higher priority than to fight the battle to protect ourselves, our family and our homeland.”
United States Senator Richard Burr (NC) addressed the audience via videotaped message and spoke about the need to forge partnerships between the private sector and the government. “These are challenging times here and around the world. I’m confident that public and private partnerships can give us the ability to leverage – in a different way – our assets on the streets and in our hands. We can use the private sector as a multiplier in our war against illegal and illicit practices.”
9/11: 10 years later
Juan C. Zarate, Senior Adviser for the Transnational Threats Project and Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, delivered the forum’s keynote address, titled “Financial Integrity and National Security: The Evolution after 9/11.”
“What we saw after 9/11 was a fundamental shift to looking at the underbelly – the financial infrastructure of terrorism – to discovery money trails, uncover plots and to understand how the system was operating,” Zarate explained. “We now understand how terrorists were misusing the banking system around the world.”
Zarate talked about the creation of financial intelligence counter-terrorism units around the world that focus on breaking down funding for groups like Al Qaeda. “When we go after the financing of these groups and make it harder for them to use the international financial system, we are constricting their global reach and squeezing their budget,” he explained. “If you are able to affect the bottom line and restrict the access they have to ready capital, you affect their ability to be strategic and have global reach.”
Real insights on working together
Following Zarate's presentation, the audience watched a short video message from United States Senator Kay Hagan (NC). She commended the military personnel who risk their lives in the fight against terror, but in a nod of appreciation to the audience she added, “Their significant gains could be marginalized if we do not simultaneously combat the increasingly sophisticated financing schemes that defines terrorist organizations.”
The morning’s next main stage session was a panel discussion on convergence fraud and anti-money laundering units in financial services firms and law enforcement. Read the next post in this series, "Financial crimes convergence: What is it, why should we care?" for insights from leaders who have made the convergence choice and one who is thoughtfully considering the challenges. Let us know where you stand.
Lisa Arney also contributed to this post.