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LATEST:‘Tremendously difficult’ to share AML information without proper rules in place – HSBC FinCrime Chief

By Dan Byrne for AMLi

ENTITIES within a public-private partnership need more freedom to share data in the name of anti-money laundering, a top official at HSBC has suggested.  

The global bank’s head of UK Financial Crime Investigations Matthew Dewsbury has criticised the current setup around data laws in many regions of the world.  

This can, and often does, pit the need to share information against meticulous data protection laws. 

It was producing hurdles that were “tremendously difficult,” for institutions to overcome without “enabling legislation,” he claimed, particularly when it came to tracking cross-border crime.  

“Personally, I’m an advocate of privacy around personal data,” he explained to a UK & Europe AML/KYC Summit hosted by Transform Finance.  

But he warned that obstructing the sharing of data when it’s done to trace the path of illegal proceeds “goes against the greater good,” and that change was needed.  

“An ever-increasing amount of financial crime is cross-border,” he explained.  

“There are some unhelpful trends in data privatisation. Whilst respecting all laws and regulations, all organisations should do their upmost to connect with cross-border information.” 

“I’m a big fan of the book The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff, but if we want to be serious about disrupting the most serious crimes, cross-border sharing is important.” 

The balance between data sharing and data privacy fuels constant debate at the top levels of AML.  

While FATF has previously tried to calm the tension, saying that “neither are in opposition not inherently mutually exclusive,” the situation on the ground does suggest that conflict is routine.  

Data sharing is central to the public-private partnership model that organisations like FATF promote.  

These partnerships allow institutions like banks to work alongside government bodies in shutting down criminal networks.  

Dewsbury split these relationships into two types: strategic and tactical. The strategic type was mainly about sharing typologies and trends in a given jurisdiction, he said – essentially meaning a more general approach.  

The tactical type was about sharing lead intelligence about a specific crime in process, and Dewsbury described some of the examples of tactical work across the globe as “very effective.” 

“The PPP setup in Singapore is really ambitious,” he explained. “It’s making really great strides in the two types of information sharing. We certainly see a concentration of really good PPPs across Asia, but Singapore is definitely a jurisdiction worth calling out.” 

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