“People are Yearning for Real Accountability,” Says Global Witness’ Mark Hays
18 Mar 2020

The financial sector may yet see its own movement to hold institutions and individuals accountable for facilitating corruption, according to Mark Hays, anti-money laundering campaign leader at the advocacy group Global Witness.

In a recent interview with AML Talk Show host Martin Woods, Hays said there is an opportunity for bankers and others to step forward and speak out against practices they deem to be illegal or inappropriate, much as victims of sexual harassment and assault have done in the “Me Too” movement by shaming sexual predators.

“The power of that movement is interesting where you see, without regulatory action, media companies wreaking swiftly to hold these people accountable,” said Hays. “It can be done in the money laundering sector. It can be done in the bribery sector. People are yearning for real accountability.”

“If people are willing to step forward and make those amends, or push others to do so swiftly and in full, I think you’ll see a change in culture and behavior of those incidents faster than you might believe,” he said.

But such a step could also require professionals in the financial sector to take a broader, less abstract, view of the real impact corruption and money laundering have on society as a whole.

“They have to ask themselves the question ‘who stands to gain from this?'” said Hays. “With 1MDB, that’s the critical thing that’s often missed. We focus on the antics of Jho Low and the political corruption in the Malaysian government, but at the end of the day, that 4.5 million US dollars that they may never get back is larger than the health budget there, and that’s going to have a knock-on effect for millions of people in Malaysia for decades.”

In a wide-ranging discussion, Hays also spoke with Woods about the remaining hurdles ahead for corporate transparency initiatives, the obligation of financial institutions to address the climate crisis and the efficacy of deferred prosecution agreements to deter institutional misconduct.

Listen to the full podcast here

RiskScreen: Eliminating Financial Crime with Smart Technology

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