How reporting for ICIJ ready me to change into a licensed anti-money laundering specialist

As an investigative reporter, I’m used to not making many friends at work.

Your integrity – and intelligence – is regularly challenged. “It’s complicated,” say the subjects of our investigations into financial crime, tax avoidance and the offshore industry. ‘You have no idea what you are talking about.’

I remember an especially sharp email from a high-paying musician’s rep in response to simple questions about an offshore bank account: “It’s difficult to express astonishment at the receipt of your email in writing. It contains references to allegations of the most bizarre kind. “

To them I say … CAMS!

Earlier this year, I passed a test that allowed me to add four words after my name: Certified Money Laundering Specialist.

The CAMS accreditation granted by a leading Association by anti-money laundering specialists, is primarily intended for people who work in banks, financial services companies and other companies to prevent criminals as much as possible from sending, receiving or moving what we often call “dirty money” or the proceeds from a crime. These are the people who are meant to stop what you see in movies. They know the crux of the matter: a drug cartel sells cocaine, then they count stacks of 100 dollar bills in a kitchen and transfer the money to a secret bank account in Switzerland before buying a luxury condo in Miami.

Stopping this type of wrongdoing is no easy task. Many criminals are much smarter than they were 20 years ago, when it was easier to walk into a hotel with a briefcase full of cash and bribe a foreign official. In addition, these specialists in charge of labeling and blocking criminal cash can sometimes encounter resistance within their own bank – CAMS are often the ones who advise their colleagues to say “no” to potentially lucrative customers.

Talking to such specialists is part of my job as a reporter at the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. And that’s not just me. Of Panama papers to FinCEN files, hundreds of reporters working with the ICIJ on our groundbreaking investigation regularly interview anti-money laundering specialists. (Thanks for answering our calls, everyone!)

We ask questions like: Does that sound suspicious? What laws did Deutsche Bank have when it helped the repressive government of Turkmenistan? Send $ 1.6 million to a recently formed mailbox company in Scotland to buy “confectionery”? What legal responsibilities do you have, if any? Lawyers, accountants and bankers before you agreed to partner with Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos? What does the United Arab Emirates so stupid?

For a couple of months I set aside an hour or two a day for study. Flash cards? Check. Online Lectures? Check. Practice quizzes? Check. A 316-page memorization manual? Check. I drowned in acronyms: FATF, GAFILAT, NCCT, MLAT, AMLID, MSB, DNFBP.

When I took the exam in March, I felt well prepared. But at several points during the 210-minute test, I was convinced that I would fail. What would i say to my friend Or worse, my bosses?

My friend made a sign to me to celebrate passing the CAMS test. Image: Will Fitzgibbon

I passed by and breathed a sigh of relief.

I was pleasantly surprised at how well my work at ICIJ had prepared me.

But what really excited me, aside from my new qualification and nerdy bragging rights, was the realization that years of global collaboration in the offshore financial system has also produced an army of journalists like me with anti-money laundering experience in the workplace. Let’s call it “CAMS-by-doing”.

For more than seven years, I have joined hundreds of reporters from around the world on many of the ICIJ’s best-known financial investigations Swiss leaks to the Panama papers to Leaks in West Africa to the FinCEN files.

Together we read thousands of emails, contracts, spreadsheets, and financial statements. We interviewed thousands of experts. Slowly but surely, journalists like me who have worked on ICIJ research have built a knowledge base that would read like a dedicated CAMS study guide.

Most of us (myself included) are not and never will be experts. But every year we improve our knowledge of where to look and what questions to ask. Our BS-Radar has become more precise, if you will: Why should a Canadian company founded with gold mine in Senegal a company without employees in Mauritius? Why should a Cellist and close friend Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rights to a $ 200 million loan for just $ 1?

Sure, I’m a CAMS now. But the world should be more careful: with years of ICIJ investigations, there are now hundreds of other reporters out there, just like me, better than ever at spotting a seedy deal when they see one. I’m excited to see what we all do next.

Crooks, watch out.

Christie’s artwork specialist Noah Davis

The digital artist Beeple is after him “a rich man” non-fungible token Noah Davis, a post-war and contemporary art specialist at Christie’s, was auctioned off on CNBC for nearly $ 70 million on Thursday.

Davis made the comments in an interview “Power Lunch” after the bidding window at Christie’s closed early Thursday. Beeples NFT – a collage of images entitled “Everydays: The first 5,000 days “ – Sold for $ 69,346,250, according to Christie’s. Mike Winkelmann is Beeple’s real name.

The buyer of Winkelmann’s creation is given “essentially a long string of numbers and letters,” explained Davis of Christie’s CNBC. “It’s a code that is on the Ethereum blockchain. It’s a block on the chain that is put into your Ethereum wallet.”

“You will also get a gigantic JPEG. A massive, high-resolution JPEG. It’s a hundred megabytes,” Davis added.

In a tweet, the auction house said the selling price had positioned Winkelmann as “among the three most valuable living artists”. Christie’s was the first major auction house to sell an all-digital work of art.

“Mike Winkelmann is a rich man today,” Davis told CNBC. “He’s always been spiritually rich. … I’m really proud of him.”

The sale of NFTs, which are blockchain-based assets, has grown in popularity recently and spans the spectrum of Basketball highlights to the first Twitter post into an all-digital work of art worth tens of millions of dollars.

NFTs are stored in digital wallets and are unique in design. This scarcity, proponents say, is critical to its value. Ownership of each NFT is recorded on a blockchain network, the digital ledgers, which also support cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Winkelmann tried to explain the rise of NFTs in a CNBC interview last month.

“There are a couple of different analogies I like to use. One of them is the Mona Lisa. Anyone can take a picture of the Mona Lisa, but that doesn’t mean you own the Mona Lisa,” Winkelmann then said, referring to the icon portrait painted by Leonardo da Vinci.

The “Squawk Alley” The interview took place on February 25th, the same day his NFT opened for listings at Christie’s.

“Another one I like to use is like MP3s. You can have a copy of Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, but … you won’t be able to convince people that you have the master recordings of ‘Thriller’. “Winkelmann said. “You can still have copies of digital art online and anyone can view it, but the blockchain, the NFT, is what proves that one person owns it.”

Some people see the NFT craze as temporary and believe that ownership of the digital assets will eventually become less attractive and their values ​​will drop sharply.

At least in terms of the fact that NFTs are viewed as art, Davis said the sale of Winkelmann’s work was a milestone.

“I don’t think it’s a one-off, and I think this is an endorsement of the collectible category,” said Davis. “NFTs are clearly more than just an emerging, emerging collection space.”

Hub Provides Leisure Specialist Cloward from Allianz in California

Hub International has added entertainment insurance specialist David Cloward as a practice manager in the Los Angeles, California office.

Cloward will focus on managing film, production, venue, executive and live entertainment clients and supporting the entertainment and specialty sports strategy on a national level.

Cloward was previously the global leader in live production entertainment products for Allianz Global and Corporate Specialty. He previously held senior entertainment underwriting positions at Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. and WR Berkley Corp. active.

David Cloward

Hub, based in Chicago, Illinois, is a global insurance broker providing products and services for risk management, insurance, employee benefits, retirement planning, and asset management.

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