It might seem flippant to say that it takes a pirate to catch a pirate, but that's exactly what I do on a daily basis as a Partner at KPMG in Colombia's Forensic Services. My knowledge helps me assist different types of financial institutions and companies become leaders in the fight against financial crime at every level - locally, regionally and globally.
I have seen firsthand the damage caused by financial crime because I have prosecuted criminals involved in different types of criminal activity - from white-collar crime to illegal mining. The damage is far-reaching and can affect the lives of real people, the environment, economies and entire societies. As a former prosecutor in Colombia, I was involved in going after the major players and criminals at the top of the illicit trees, because that is how behavioral and institutional change happens.
A far-reaching approach
The reality is that nothing will be achieved by simply arresting those who are struggling at the lowest end of these shameful supply chains. If the focus is on prosecuting the miners who are struggling to support families and have no choice but to work in an illegal mine, they'll be easily replaced by more desperate workers. Instead, I was involved in a strategy that aimed to prosecute the key parts of those value chains.
This approach made a difference. The local fight in Colombia had far-reaching effects and started important global conversations about the ethics and procedures for buying and selling gold.
My prosecutorial experience taught me what to look for when I assess the risks clients might be exposed to when they handle potentially suspect transactions. I can spot the burning platforms in businesses because I know how companies can protect themselves. This is the process of helping banks understand the serious consequences of not making vital behavioral, cultural and procedural changes.
I have seen what happens when companies don't do their due diligence and neglect to mitigate the risks that can cause real and lasting pain to their business and to society as a whole. These are the risks that can potentially damage reputations and profitability.
Throughout this article, “we”, “KPMG”, “us” and “our” refers to the global organization or to one or more of the member firms of KPMG International Limited (“KPMG International”), each of which is a separate legal entity.