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What we are hearing – January 2021

Happy New Year everyone… As we closed the chapter in 2020 and opened a new one for 2021, organisations are faced with trying to manage their businesses in possibly the highest risk and uncertain economic, political and financial environment of our generation – the time for resilience and strong governance, risk management and control has never been greater!

Globally, the pandemic rages on with remote working and travel restrictions for 2021 undoubtedly increasing the importance of systems, processes and controls being able to be managed in loose knit working environments and acceleration of enabling technologies to manage risks in a rapidly changing landscape.

In the US we have seen rising political and ideological tensions like never before, which has raised visibility of financial crime and corruption within the general public – we have seen (baseless) claims of election fraud, diversion of political donations defrauding voters, tax evasion investigations, censuring of false information on tech platforms and politically motivated pardons seen to be attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Now the chopper has left the White House lawn I expect the criminal investigators and prosecutors work is only just starting – what a legacy!

In other parts of the world, we have several countries, in ongoing tit for tat trade wars, imposing tariffs and sanctions, political spats, brexit and escalating tensions creating an uncertain economic, political and legal environment for today’s business leaders to manage, all on top of COVID.

Closer to home in Australia, things are no less crazy…over the Xmas break we saw DarkNet, the World’s largest illegal marketplace of choice for drugs, firearms, stolen credit cards and other contraband  being shut down after 320,000 transactions netting more than $170m, with an Australian man now under arrest in Germany.

We also saw AUSTRAC come under fire for a few billion dollar blunder after wrongly accusing the Vatican of transferring $2.3bn through Australian financial institutions, when after closer analysis the real transaction value was closer to $9.5m. (But then again, money laundering in the Holy See is not unheard of but that’s another story  – so it’s hard to know who to believe these days!).

Mishaps aside, it is clear that Australia has a very long way to go to repair its international reputation and major hurdles to overcome this year and beyond.

In recent media reports, nine Australian based banks are again  feeling the heat for the role they played in helping facilitate money laundering of over $500m for South American cartels, with the regulator also copping some flak for failing to take more assertive action at the time.

And there is still lots to do to address the findings of the Banking Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking, superannuation and financial services industry. It has now been over two years since the Australian Government received the Hayne’s final report and unequivocally committed to taking action and implementing all 76 recommendations – but the pace of implementation is progressing at glacial speed.  Of the 76 recommendations only 27 (36%) have been actioned, with 45 (59%) still in-progress and 4 (5%) being abandoned all together.

The underlying point is that we are living in increasingly uncertain times and Governments and Regulated businesses alike still have a mountain to climb to build effective risk and compliance management systems, to mitigate and manage these risks.

Forgive the pun but at Arctic we don’t do glacial paced. Last week we launched another major release of the Risk Assessment Platform. Our amazing team has again pulled out all the stops to deliver a number of new and improved features to give our clients even greater capabilities equal to the challenges they face.

Please get in touch with our team, if you would like to find out how to strengthen your risk management defences.


Arctic Intelligence | Anthony Quinn, Founder and Executive Director

Anthony Quinn

Founder + Executive Director

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