07 September 2007

BMPE: Internal Audit Awareness...

Risk in the supply chain may not always come from that vendor who provides your power, water or telecommunications. Black Market Peso Exchange (BMPE) is an Operational Risk that is starting to gain more awareness with Internal Auditors. This has been around since the 1980's yet even today some of our most sophisticated financial services institutions are being subjected to this system of fraud. The BMPE has been another way for money laundering from illicit criminal drug proceeds to impact our risk management controls:
American Express Bank International's anti-money laundering program was deficient in three of the four core elements. Namely, the Bank failed to implement adequate internal controls, failed to conduct adequate independent testing, and failed to designate compliance personnel to ensure compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act. American Express Bank International's high-risk customer base, product lines, and international jurisdiction of operations required elevated measures to manage the risk of money laundering and other financial crimes.

Nevertheless, the Bank conducted business without adequate systems and controls reasonably designed to manage the risk of money laundering, including the potential for Black Market Peso Exchange transactions that may be used by Colombian drug cartels to launder the proceeds of narcotics sales. American Express Bank International's failure to comply with the Bank Secrecy Act and the regulations issued pursuant to that Act were serious, repeated and systemic.

This method of money laundering is effective for the drug traffickers and requires more awareness on the behalf of fraud examiners and independent auditors. The IRS form 8300 requiring companies and financial entities to disclose receipts in excess of $10K in cash or equivalents doesn't work very well as wire transfers are not considered cash or cash equivalents.

Javier Sarmiento with GlassRatner has a substantive article on the subject in the last issue of the ACFE Fraud Magazine.

A point is made that needs to be emphasized here. "Don't rely on banks and financial institutions to conduct anti-money laundering (BSA/AML) procedures on behalf of the company." Is it possible that your organization has purchased inventory with funds that have been utilized as part of the BMPE scheme? What about resellers and distributors that are part of your own revenue supply chain.

In terms of Independent testing, make sure that your Internal Audit department is educated and aware of this particular mechanism for use by money launderers:

American Express Bank International's independent testing of its Bank Secrecy Act program was ineffective. Internal Audit Staff lacked sufficient training and knowledge to facilitate compliance with the Bank Secrecy Act. Audit scopes were not always tailored or designed to capture and test for compliance with certain requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act.

Internal Audit staff also failed to conduct sufficient customer transaction testing to adequately evaluate the overall sufficiency of the anti-money laundering program at the Bank. Furthermore, Internal Audit failed to assist management with tracking and following-up on previously identified regulatory examination deficiencies. In addition, Internal Audit failed to conduct adequate testing of the suspicious activity monitoring system or identify the numerous data integrity concerns associated with this system for an extended period of time. The ineffectiveness of the Internal Audit function at American Express Bank International contributed to the failure to identify significant deficiencies in this system before 2007.

No comments:

Post a Comment