The first edition of the Puerto Rico Economic & Compliance Conference was held under the slogan “A culture of compliance leads to economic stability and success,” aimed at educating its participants on the importance of establishing and complying with good financial practices, the challenges faced by said compliance, trends in financial crimes, new opportunities and new risks.
The talks were geared toward strengthening Puerto Rico’s strategy in the global marketplace.
“Just as challenges and new methods to defraud regulations emerge, so do new information and developments to effectively tackle them,” said Julio Herrera-Velutini, president of Bancrédito International Bank & Trust, official sponsor of the event.
“In that sense, it is of great importance that forums like these exist, so the international financial sector may explore the landscape of compliance programs, risk management, laws, policies and relevant regulations, and the implications of non-compliance,” he said.
For this purpose, lecturers and panelists from the private and public sectors, all authorities on different aspects of the conference’s theme, collaborated their expertise in areas such as the legal-criminal framework, regulatory-banking framework, financial intelligence and investigations, corruption and money laundering, and national security, among others.
Puerto Rico Office of the Financial Institutions Commissioner George R. Joyner set the conference’s tone in his opening remarks, where he emphasized the importance of a culture of compliance in the context of Puerto Rico as a jurisdiction in the process of recovery and reconstruction.
The first of two keynote addresses were led by Robert W. Werner, former director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and former head of Financial Crimes Compliance for HSBC.
Werner’s message was focused on the role of an institutional culture of compliance to ensure safety and soundness, and that the organization or jurisdiction inspires confidence in the market to be successful.
On the other hand, Sally Painter, co-founder and chief operating officer at Blue Star Strategies, LLC, addressed the challenges a jurisdiction like Puerto Rico may face in obtaining a place in the international economic scene.
Painter outlined practical steps and requirements to achieve global positioning as a financial hub, such as the presence of the international banking industry in the jurisdiction to join efforts as a sector with a common aim.
Further, Painter stressed the need for a comprehensive external affairs strategy to engage all stakeholders, manage the jurisdiction’s reputation, and build awareness within the international financial sector, among others.
“Puerto Rico is a sophisticated financial center that forms a natural hub between Latin America and the United States,” said Art Middlemiss, a compliance practitioner and partner at Lewis Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss.
“The conference showed the Puerto Rico international banking community’s commitment to international best compliance practices, and its recognition of its responsibilities as a member of the global financial system,” he added.
Other relevant topics addressed included typologies of money laundering and the financing of terrorism; measures against bribery and corruption and their challenges to compliance; current issues in correspondent banking; regional money laundering and sanction risks (using the Venezuela as a case study); and new opportunities and risks of virtual currencies.
The conference took place at the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel and was hosted with the sponsorship of Bancrédito International Bank & Trust, BDO, Capitalia, DLA Piper, Lewish Baach Kaufmann Middlemiss PLC, McConnell Valdés, and Value Advisory Group.