financial crime

‘All roads lead to Rome’ a common phrase we’ve all heard before, could easily be substituted for ‘all roads lead to money’. In other words, all crime is financial crime according to forensics accounting expert, Dr. Kelly Richmond Pope. In light of this, looking to understand the gravity that money has on everything, on its latest episode of the Green Room podcast, Deloitte, the global professional services network, discusses the truth behind financial crime. 

Marking its 50th episode, the Deloitte team sat down with Sir Rob Wainwright (Deloitte partner and former executive director of Europol) and David Fein (special advisory to Standard Chartered Bank and chair of the United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce) who’ve been involved in tackling financial crime throughout their careers.

They bring to life some of the human stories and why it will take a network to beat underground crime networks.

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Sir Rob Wainwright, Deloitte partner and former executive director of Europol

The podcast breaks down a variety of different talking points when it comes to financial crime. From bringing to life some personal, human stories to discussing how the issue can be tackled, the podcast covers it all.

During the discussion, Wainwright shares his experiences with the Colombian drug cartel. He explains the impact the drug lords had on the streets of Europe, and the amount of money they made as a result. Over a billion euros worth of cocaine was being sold on the streets of the region.

Having brought this example to the table, the guests break down a common misconception surrounding financial crime. “People think of financial crime as a victimless crime: it’s just a money transaction,” said Fein. He breaks this myth though as he explains there are countless victims who pay the price of these transactions.

Wainwright supports this by bringing up the issue of modern slavery. “There are 40 million victims worldwide; every one of them has a story.” Every financial transaction has an impact on someone’s life.

“I keep coming back to this idea that there is £2trillion worth of financial crime profits laundered each year. The scale is just staggering. The amount of crime that has to take place to produce that volume of business is just mind-blowing in such a terrible way.”

What is the solution?
David Fein, special advisory to Standard Chartered Bank and chair of the United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce
David Fein, special advisory to Standard Chartered Bank and chair of the United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce

Having brought to life all the issues – the guests then turn to how the situation can be improved. The need for industry-wide collaboration is a must. Both Wainwright and Fein agree that organisations that silo data and work alone are the ones that get exposed by criminals. By sharing data, organisations can be more efficient at weeding out bad actors.

Highlighting one example where this has been successful, Fein explains how wildlife trafficking also has a massive impact in the financial world. He discusses his experience in the United for Wildlife Financial Taskforce, and how large banks cooperating together, have improved awareness of the crime, how to spot it, and how to report it.

The group speak about technology being a double-edged sword, though they ultimately agree more must be done from the top down. Political leaders must play their part in order to create greater barriers for criminal organisations. Imposing regulations forces organisations to be aware of crime and act accordingly.

However, it is not just the big political figures that can have an impact. Wainwright highlights that people abusing the black market for cheaper, personal gains, are also projecting the wrong message. He brings the podcast full circle by explaining that though a purchase may only seem like a financial transaction, it is actually endorsing an underground world to continue to abuse and exploit other people – making the crime so much more than just a transaction.

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