BREAKING: Stung by criticism of ‘men-only’ photocall, FATF hosts first women leaders event; coincides with AML Intelligence ‘Women in FinCrime’ Summit



THERE was a moral victory for women AFC champions today when FATF was forced to hold its first women’s conference.

It follows stinging criticism of the global fincrime watchdog over an official photography from its Singapore summit – featuring almost exclusively men in suits.

Today FATF President and Vice President opened the FATF’s first event dedicated to Women Leaders in FATF and the Global Network at its Plenary in Paris.

The meeting coincided with the award-winning AML Intelligence “Women in FinCrime” summit streamed this afternoon (Wed) across EU and US/Canada timezones.

DIFFERENCE THAT SIX MONTHS MAKE: The official handout today from FATF’s first event for women leaders in Paris, coinciding with the “WomeninFinCrime” Summit organised by AML Intelligence.

Signalling the disaster of the Singapore photocall, FATF said today’s Paris meeting “provides an opportunity for open discussions on the role that women have played and continue to play, and on the road ahead for continued development of woman leaders in the FATF and the Global Network.”

FATF Vice President Elisa de Anda Madrazo noted: “I am all about celebrating women’s accomplishment, champion them and set examples.

“But let’s be bothered and uncomfortable with the fact, the unquestioned assumption, that men are standard and women the exception.

“It is not right. So while we start to see more positive outcomes, let’s celebrate them, but keep being uncomfortable until there is no standard and no exception, but complete equality,” she said.

Last September, AML Intelligence Digital Editor Elizabeth Hearst wrote of the Singapore photocall:

What struck me was this photo. It is striking on a number of levels. 

Most striking from the image, which shows representatives from Day One of the conference at the Interpol Global Complex for Innovation, is the lack of women.

Thankfully FATF Executive Secretary Violaine Clerc stands in the front row, having taken over the reins after David Lewis’ departure earlier this year. 

Yes, there is a splinkering of women delegates here and there up the stairway – but only a few. And then you reach the very back at the top of the stairs and that is where – if you look closely enough – that most of the female representatives stand.

Honestly the photograph could have been taken 50 years ago.

It certainly does not represent the world we now inhabit and the great strides made by women in leadership roles. Just look at the amazing women from banking, fintech, the regulators and law enforcement who participate two times a year at the AML Intelligence ‘WomeninFinCrime’ Summits.

I wonder what kind of message – sublimal or not – that this image sends to women in the Anti-Financial Crime (AFC) and AML sector.

“After all, it is not that the sector is devoid of women. From what I can tell, women dominate the field in terms of numbers but quite simply are not represented at the leadership level.

FATF and Interpol need to be aware of signalling – and take immediate action. Words are not enough.

For example, a simple keyword search on FATF’s site for ‘gender’ and ‘women’ draws a blank. At Interpol, they at least have established an online e-learning course on gender mainstreaming in law enforcement.

The project marks one of several initiatives introduced by international police agency to raise awareness of gender-responsive law enforcement under ‘Project Sunbird’. 

Whilst the vast majority of women included in the aforementioned image may have elected to be at the back, it still strikes me as quite an ‘own-goal’ from the global AFC watchdog and international policing body.

Female representation in the financial sector is stronger than ever, with recent research conducted by McKinsey highlighting that women make up 53% of the entry-level banking workforce in the US. 

This level plummets however to less than one-third at Senior Vice President and C-Suite levels. 

There are of course strong women leaders in the AFC and Compliance sector. Europe has Commissioner Mairead McGuinness at the helm of the EU’s new AML Action Plan, Violaine Clerc herself is in a crucial FATF position and Xolisile Khanyile now leading the charge at the Egmont Group.

In other words – they are the exception rather than the rule.

Quite simply that is not good enough anymore. It’s clear more work needs to be done to improve female representation on the ground. 

Perhaps this could be the focus of FATF’s and INTERPOL’s next joint initiative?

After all, as we have been told so often, “you can’t be it, unless you see it.”

Today’s #WomeninFinCrime Summit was hearing from:

– Alexandra Jour-Schroeder, Deputy Director General, DG FISMA, European Commission  

– Elżbieta Franków-Jaśkiewicz, Chair of MONEYVAL & Vice Chair, Egmont Group of Financial Intelligence Units 

– Brenda Lucki, Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police | Gendarmerie royale du Canada Police (RCMP) 

– Dr. Shlomit Wagman, former DG Israel Money Laundering & Terrorism Prohibition Authority (IMPA) 

– Ilze Znotina, former Director, Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Latvia 

– Toni Gillich, Assistant Director, Forensic Audit and Investigative Service, GAO 

– Nana Lisa Heider, Head, Financial Crime Intelligence Unit, Deutsche Bank

The summit was being chaired by Managing Director of Interpath’s Advisory, Federica Taccogna and moderated by Jackie King  Executive Director at Ibec Global

The theme of today’s Summit is: ‘Emerging Technology in the Fight Against Financial Crime.’ 

The post BREAKING: Stung by criticism of ‘men-only’ photocall, FATF hosts first women leaders event; coincides with AML Intelligence ‘Women in FinCrime’ Summit appeared first on AML Intelligence.


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