There are never too many helping hands in the battle against financial crime. Identity theft reports rose by 45% in 2020, while fraud and other financial crimes also saw a marked rise. Fraud alone costs the global economy trillions each year, and the human cost of crimes like money laundering is even greater.
There are several organisations manning the front lines against money launderers, tax evaders, terrorist organisations, and other breeds of financial criminals. With this list, we are paying homage to these fearless organisations.
From watchdog groups to policy activists and AML trainers, these organisations are doing their part to enact financial justice throughout the world.
Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS)
The Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) helps both individuals and organisations fight financial crime. It purports to be the “largest global membership organisation dedicated to fighting financial crime”. AML specialists can become certified as a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist (CAMS) to improve their capabilities and further their career.
In addition to certifications and courses, ACAMS hosts AML-focused symposiums and conferences around the world.
Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists (CFCS)
The Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists (CFCS) provides training, membership, and certifications. Training covers cybersecurity, AML, crypto compliance, and other financial crime risks. Members of the CFCS can engage with the CFCS community, access career development opportunities, review content curated specifically for members, and receive news updates and alerts.
A certification from the CFCS “validates skills across all financial crime risks”. The certification is “an internationally recognised, elite standard for financial crime compliance professionals in over 80 countries and jurisdictions.”
Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP)
The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) is, at its core, a publication enabling “a global network of investigative journalists” to publish stories on organised crime and corruption. This includes financial crimes. Through the mission, OCCRP brings attention to financial crime through original reporting.
The Global Anti-Corruption Consortium is a notable venture of the OCCRP. OCCRP provides data and firsthand reporting to Transparency International, which has “effectively advocated for change at the highest level of government and multilateral bodies, brought legal action, and pushed for meaningful reforms to combat corruption”.
Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Crime (AMLFC) Institute
The Anti-Money Laundering and Financial Crime (AMLFC) Institute partners with universities and professional organisations to fight financial crime. It offers certifications for AML, cybersecurity, fintech, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), fraud risk management, countering the financing of terrorism (CFT), and other types of regulatory compliance. It also funds research to advance the state of AML practices.
Its AMLFC Conference is an annual event (under normal circumstances). In 2020, it provided a complimentary webinar for AMLFC members to account for the absence of an in-person conference.
Middlebury Institute of International Studies Financial Crime Management Program
The Middlebury Institute of International Studies is located in Monterey, CA but is affiliated with Vermont-based Middlebury College. Its Financial Crime Management program for those who want to work in “private sector compliance and investigations, government intelligence, training and research with multilateral organisations, and anti-corruption compliance for NGOs”.
The program is available as a means to a standalone certificate or as part of a degree path. The program teaches participants to uncover and analyse financial crime and comply with the current regulatory framework. It’s an example of collegiate institutions helping fight financial crime.
Financial Crime Academy
Financial Crime Academy is a “disruptive professional online education provider for the global anti-financial crime community”.
It’s a new organisation founded in 2020, but is entering a space where demand is great.
The Europe-based organisation offers an AML bootcamp, crypto compliance bootcamp, and sanctions compliance bootcamp. Each course is virtual and costs 20 Euros.
Transparency International is a wide-ranging initiative that exposes corruption at international scale.
Its three primary activities are advocacy, research, and campaigning.
Financial crime is an integral part of global corruption. To fight such crime, Transparency International hosts a Global Anti-Corruption Consortium, sponsors investigative journalism, analyses financial flows and crime, and engages in private partnerships in the name of AML.
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) is a non-profit news organisation. It consists of both a U.S.-based newsroom and global network of investigative journalists. It partners with major news outlets and is responsible for some of the most impactful financial crime-related journalism of recent times.
The ICIJ is responsible for the Panama Papers investigation and reporting. It exposed an international network of financial crime and corruption. The reporting has produced tangible consequences in several countries, and was a seminal moment for general awareness of financial crime.
International Money Laundering Information Network (IMOLIN)
The International Money Laundering Information Network (IMOLIN) is “an Internet-based network assisting governments, organisations and individuals in the fight against illicit financial flows, money laundering and the financing of terrorism”.
Affiliated with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the network includes a case law database, calendar of AML-related events, eLearning resources, and training courses.
Financial Action Task Force (FATF)
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is an international financial crime watchdog. It promotes political reforms through the passage of laws specifically targeting financial crime. It boasts more than 200 countries that adhere (in some capacity) to the FATF Standards. The FATF is itself a “policymaking body”, but it requires the cooperation of governments to put those policies on the books.
When possible, the FATF also assists law enforcement as agencies “go after the money of criminals dealing in illegal drugs, human trafficking and other crimes”.
Tax Justice Network (TJN)
The Tax Justice Network (TJN) fights financial secrecy under the premise that international tax systems “prioritise the wealthy over everyone else”, and that this is generally a bad thing.
It aims to show governments and private organisations the danger of tax havens and loopholes. The network funds research exposing tax injustice and crime. It hopes that this research, along with more targeted influence campaigns, will prompt direct legislative reform. It also produces podcasts and videos to spread awareness of tax-related issues. The non-profit works with global partners to change taxation systems where it believes reform is necessary.
Transparency Networks conducts “investigative journalism, due diligence, integrity investigations, and more” as it identifies and brings attention to financial crime. It supports whistleblowers who alert the organisation to compliance gaps or outright criminal acts.
Representatives of Transparency Networks address offenders directly, giving them the opportunity for self-defense against alleged financial crimes. It facilitates the involvement of “media outlets…law firms, governmental institutions or law enforcement in order to achieve justice”. Protecting the identity and rights of whistleblowers is a key mission of Transparency Networks.
Government Accountability Project (GAP)
The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is the self-titled “leader in whistleblower advocacy since 1977”. It aims to convert whistleblower revelations into tangible societal change. It pursues legislative initiatives, engages in public education campaigns, litigates whistleblower cases, and investigates corruption. Tips about such corruption, in some cases, come from the whistleblowers themselves.
GAP claims to have helped more than 8,000 whistleblowers in some capacity. Identifying and rooting out financial crime is an important piece of what the Government Accountability Project does.
Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE)
The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) is “the world’s largest anti-fraud organization”. It offers test prep, exams, and certifications for those aiming to become certified fraud examiners (CFEs). These individuals have the skills required to effectively prevent and identify fraud.
ACFE members can access a number of online resources. This includes online courses, case studies, statistics, fraud-related tips, and opportunities to connect with other ACFE members. The ACFE also hosts an annual fraud conference, the ACFE Global Fraud Conference.
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The highest levels of government may have more power than any other sector to materially reduce financial crime. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) harnesses the power of international government cooperation. One of its missions is fighting financial crime.
The OECD’s goal is “to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity and well-being for all”. Based on its public stances against financial crime, it’s clear that the OECD promotes policies that help prevent financial exploitation. More than 135 member countries are fighting tax avoidance, among other finance-specific initiatives.
The Egmont Group
The Egmont Group is an “informal network” of Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs) with a shared mission of fighting money laundering and terrorist financing. The alliance provides “a platform for the secure exchange of expertise and financial intelligence” regarding financial crime. It hosts regional groups to provide training and assistance to member organisations.
Members of The Egmont Group include powerful organisations from around the globe. This makes The Egmont Group one of the foremost forces shaping the future of compliance and financial crime combattance.
Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR)
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and World Bank sponsor the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative (StAR). The partnership “supports international efforts to end safe havens for corrupt funds”. Using the resources of the World Bank and UN, StAR assists in asset recovery for victims of fraud and other financial crimes perpetrated by “corrupt officials”.
Specifically, StAR provides “facts, knowledge, and know-how” to those with the power to recover pilfered assets. It also works alongside authorities in developing nations to help identify and end money laundering practices.
There is no end to the fight against financial crime. The enemy is legion, with disparate criminal networks employing varied tactics. The barrage of financial crime is random, making it astoundingly difficult to defend against.
As PwC notes, financial crime today affects more organisations than ever before, with the nature of such crimes becoming increasingly diverse. Despite the daunting nature of financial crime, the fight is a worthy one. Even one financial crime thwarted or rectified is progress.
Organisations like those we’ve listed are achieving worthwhile results. The FBI publishes stories of financial criminals being convicted every day. Europol arrested 105 suspects of financial crime in a single bust in February 2021. These results matter, and the organisations we’ve highlighted play a tangible role in such positive outcomes.