Insight : James Thomas

James Thomas

Sharing the keys to effective collaboration in the fight against financial crime

Collaboration is increasingly viewed as an essential tool in the global fight against financial crime....More

Financial crime within the metaverse

Criminals are always early adopters of new technology; it is up to compliance to ensure they do not gain a foothold in the metaverse.

Greenwashing under the spotlight

With growing concerns over greenwashing, regulators are placing greater scrutiny on organisations’ claims about their green credentials.....More

The big crypto conversation - MENA conference

The regulation of virtual assets will be high on the agenda at ICA Live: MENA, with a current and a former regulator driving the conversation.

Zeroing in: Making the transition to net zero

Achieving ‘net zero’ emissions has become a huge priority for everyone as the urgency of the climate crises grows year on year. Tackling this is a serious challenge and at the recent COP26 summit, plans were announced to make the UK ‘the world’s first net-zero aligned financial centre’. This piece will look at how banks can plot their way along this journey and increase their confidence at hitting these important targets.....More

Compliance must be a force for good

Ethics and purpose should underpin every effort to meet the challenge of climate change, writes James Thomas

Keeping pace with the latest AI trends

What challenges and opportunities does artificial intelligence present and how can risk and compliance practitioners best respond to these? James Thomas reports on recent ICA Roundtable events....More

COVID-19, cryptocurrencies and fraud

James Thomas considers fraud risks associated with cryptocurrencies in the context of COVID-19

A year to remember

2020 has been a year that most of us would gladly forget. Nevertheless, as we look towards 2021, it is worth considering the lessons learned over the last 12 months, assessing the evolving landscape, and (where possible) drawing on any positives that have come to light. This article considers some of the main features of fraud in 2020 and highlights potential trends for the coming year.....More

Transforming whistleblowing culture for the long term remains a challenge

Since the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) replaced the Financial Services Authority there has been a short run, but dramatic, trend in the UK towards greater whistleblowing activity. 2014 saw 1,367 complaints reported to the FCA, an increase of 44% on 2013 and of 142% on 2012. However, in 2015 reported complaints declined by a fifth compared with 2014, according to law firm Pinsent Masons.

Implementation Day presents a shifting sanctions landscape

“Implementation Day” – the lifting of sanctions following Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – came around more swiftly than some had anticipated at the time that the JCPOA was initially agreed. Anyone not expecting compliance to be achieved so rapidly will be feeling the pressure to get fully up to speed with this new landscape.....More

Cyber security, an ongoing concern for 2016

With the rising cost of data breaches and the rising volume of attacks, cyber security was one of the highest profile issues facing businesses in 2015. Cyber attacks are currently believed to cost business anywhere between $400-500bn a year and show little sign of abating.

TalkTalk hack raises important questions about regulation and data protection

The details that have emerged since the 21 October cyber attack on TalkTalk raise some serious questions not only for the broadband provider itself but for any business holding sensitive customer information.....More

Market failure and bad behaviour: where does the individual sit in all of this?

People tend to assume a different persona within the workplace, in much the same way as many individuals adopt a completely different set of social standards when they get behind the wheel of a car.

Threat of “KYCC” highlights need for joined-up approach to financial inclusion and financial integrity

“There is a risk of setting a ‘know your customer’s customer’ standard for the whole global system,” Anders Borg, former Swedish Finance Minister, has warned.....More

MTOs in the Pacific rising to the de-risking challenge

Remittance streams from family members living overseas form an essential source of money for many people living in the Pacific region, and a significant proportion of the GDP of many Pacific islands. However, recently these flows of money have come under threat as many global banks have ceased providing banking services for money transfer operators (MTOs) in the region, due to heightened sensitivity to AML and CFT requirements.

Standards and individual accountability in FICC markets

The final report of the Fair and Effective Markets Review (FEMR) was published last week. Commissioned in response to the series of scandals that have blighted the fixed income, currency and commodities (FICC) markets, the Report’s account of the shortcomings that led to such scandals is depressingly familiar; a combination of:....More

Compliance: in demand

It’s been said before, but for those in search of a career that is both challenging and rewarding there has never been a better time to work in compliance. The challenges come in the form of the abundance and complexity of current and forthcoming regulations, increasing scrutiny and greater enforcement activity; the rewards through the growing demand that this has created for skilled compliance professionals.

Lobbying: fostering a culture of integrity

There is a serious shortfall in transparency, integrity and equality of access within the lobbying process across Europe, according to a report released last week by Transparency International. This has created a need to “foster a culture of integrity among companies and organisations seeking to influence public policy,” says TI.....More

UK AML/CFT supervision: proportionate and effective?

The HM Treasury Anti-money laundering and counter terrorist finance supervision report 2013-14, released earlier this week, aims to provide a snapshot of the progress made over the last 12 months by UK AML/CFT supervisors in:

Continuing the drive towards professional standards

The call for greater standards of professionalism within the financial sector has increased in volume in the years following the financial crisis. And no doubt that call will continue to get louder.....More

Getting regulation right: a universal challenge

Financial regulation has received so much mainstream attention in the recent past that it’s easy to forget that criticisms of “toothless regulators” or of the “glacial pace of regulatory change” are universal, and that the need for improved regulation and compliance expertise cuts across many sectors of the economy. The most recent example comes from the world of groceries retailing.

2015: an emphasis on conduct within an uncertain landscape

As we enter 2015 financial institutions are confronted with an uncertain and shifting economic and political landscape. 2014 has seen slower than hoped for global economic expansion with stalling Chinese growth and the burgeoning Rouble crisis, while the current situation in Greece places the future of the Eurozone in the balance. Meanwhile, for UK financial institutions, political uncertainty abounds ahead of the next general election.....More

OECD report shines light into bribery in international business

The OECD Foreign Bribery Report, released earlier this month, provides some interesting insights into corruption within international business. Not surprisingly, it highlights the usual sectors as hotspots for bribery and corruption activity. Drawing on data from the 427 foreign bribery cases that have been concluded since 1999 (when the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention first entered into force) the report finds that the extractive sector accounted for 19% of these, construction 15%, and transportation and storage a further 15%.

Regulating culture

In a recent speech at the New York Federal Reserve, Barclays Chairman Sir David Walker argued that: “Regulators cannot and should not try to regulate culture, which is a matter for the individual entity”.....More

Fines and financial stability

2014 has so far been a year of massive regulatory fines. The US authorities in particular have upped the ante in their actions against large financial institutions. Amongst the highest profile of these was the $9bn fine issued against BNP Paribas in July, which led recently to the resignation of the bank's chairman, Boudouin Prot.

Organised criminals showing a greater appetite for food crime

In this age of increasingly enlightened, engaged and empowered consumers, last year’s horse meat scandal had many choking in outrage on their locally-sourced, organic, gluten-free cornflakes. The episode provided a clear red flag for potential shortcomings in the governance of global food supply chains, and the greater scrutiny that the food system has been subjected to by authorities in the aftermath of the scandal has begun to reveal the true extent of the market for counterfeit food.....More

European governments are now the main source of terrorist financing, according to the New York Times

An investigation published by the New York Times recently provided a fascinating read for anyone involved in countering the financing of terrorism (CFT). While it has long been believed that counterfeiting provides the primary source of financing for terrorists, the Times report suggests that ransom payments have now surpassed it.

BNP Paribas: this time it's personal

I wrote recently about the emerging phenomenon of guilty pleas in US regulatory enforcement cases, and their apparent lack of substance following the Credit Suisse plea. In the Credit Suisse case no individuals were punished, no licenses revoked, no activities suspended, and the bank itself confirmed that the impact of the guilty plea on business had been "very limited", leaving many to wonder whether the bank's plea served any purpose other than to add some window dressing to an admittedly large fine.....More

Guilty pleas: still too big to jail?

Recent reports suggest that BNP Paribas may be facing fines potentially in excess of US $5bn for sanctions violations and, moreover, that the bank is being pressed to plead guilty to criminal charges as part of any resolution.

Regulation… the need for speed?

High Frequency Trading (HFT) has been attracting considerable attention this month following the publication of “Flash Boys”, in which bond salesman turned financial writer Michael Lewis suggests that “US stock markets are now rigged by traders who go to astonishing lengths to gain a millisecond edge over their rivals”. With the book’s publication coming just days before the European Parliament voted to adopt HFT regulations under Mifid, the topic of HFT has been generating headlines on both sides of the pond.....More

Co-operative offers lessons for Board functioning and composition

Evidence published last week by the Treasury Select Committee (TSC) in connection with its Project Verde inquiry highlights again both the importance of good corporate governance and the fact that, for some in the financial sector, achieving it remains a struggle.

Regulatory reform: may the forth be with you...

Last week an application was made to grant the Forth Bridge “UNESCO world heritage site” status. Of course, legend has it that no sooner is the bridge painted than the job of repainting it has to begin again... which seems a fitting theme as world leaders have been gathering in Davos to discuss, among other things, the seemingly unending task of regulatory reform.....More

Getting tougher at the top?

2013 comes to a close in the UK with two significant developments which demonstrate that regulators and lawmakers have their sights set firmly on senior bankers. First came the news that Standard Chartered had stripped its Finance Director of responsibility for risk, reportedly under instructions from the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA). Next, the Banking Reform Act received Royal Assent on 18 December.

The big issue

At this time of the year, there are only two questions that really matter: (i) what's the largest Christmas tree I can fit into my house without it constituting a health and safety issue? and (ii) what's the biggest turkey five adults and three children can safely consume in one sitting?....More

The value of compliance qualifications

If you are reading this as the holder of a compliance qualification then "congratulations!" You are, according to recent PwC research, hot property. PwC found that a staggering 100% of heads of compliance at UK asset management firms believe that there is currently a shortage of appropriately qualified compliance professionals in the market, and most expect this trend to persist for the next 2 to 3 years.

Restoring trust: the long game

It would be an understatement to say that the financial sector has an image problem. Scarcely a day passes without the emergence of some new financial debacle or the imposition of some new high profile regulatory sanction.....More

Social media, independent thought and organizational culture

Have social media changed the way we think and work and has this had (positive or negative) consequences for organizational culture?

Responsibility and accountability... more than words

The Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards was set up to look into professional standards and culture within the UK banking sector. Its recent report – "Changing Banking for Good" – puts forward several recommendations.....More

Compliance, parenting and playtime

When I’m not editing inCOMPLIANCE (ICA's quarterly journal for members) I spend a fair amount of my spare time watching small children terrorize each other in playgrounds, not because I particularly enjoy doing so, but because as the father of a three-year-old it comes with the territory.

The Asian rate fixing scandal: continuing lessons for organisational culture

We’ve been covering the topic of “culture” extensively within inCOMPLIANCE. And with good reason – cultural change at banks is increasingly being acknowledged as a board-level strategic challenge, and one which the compliance community can make a positive contribution towards.....More

Executive remuneration and cultural change: the long haul

Bonus season is guaranteed to provide some talking points, and this year is no different.For many within the City, the award of massive payouts for those at the helm of major financial institutions is simply the cost of employing such “talent”; a relatively small price to pay given the massive demands of the job.

What does 2013 hold for the big banks?

2012 ended with a bang... but not in a good way. Coming just weeks after the conclusion of the Adoboli case, the UBS fine for LIBOR-rigging thrust the issue of culture in banking back onto the front pages.....More

Offshore secrets highlight the need for transparency and strong oversight

The UK Guardian’s “Offshore secrets” series, and BBC Panorama’s concurrent investigation into the burgeoning trade in sham directorships, provided some fascinating (albeit depressing) reading/viewing for anyone interested in the prevention and detection of financial crime.

Drugs, cycling, and the financial sector...

I’ve been keeping half an eye on the Lance Armstrong doping case that’s rocked the world of cycling and finding it hard to ignore some of the similarities it bears to the various crises and scandals that have hit the financial sector.....More

Remuneration and risk: how much has changed post-crisis?

The ongoing financial downturn in the UK has served to keep the issue of financial sector remuneration firmly in the spotlight.

The Adoboli trial will shine a light on controls and culture at UBS

It’s early days in the Kweku Adoboli trial, which started last week, but it looks as though the outcome (and its broader fallout on UBS and the banking sector) will hinge to a large extent on how much of a “rogue” Adoboli is.....More

How to restore trust in financial services

“Trust” is a current buzzword in the financial sector as the aftershocks of the LIBOR scandal and the HSBC AML case continue to be felt.

Search posts

View posts by Author