01 Oct 2019
In this exclusive interview, KYC360 talks to one of the world’s leading AML commentators Martin Woods. Best known as the “Wachovia Whistleblower”, Martin was formerly a Metropolitan Police Officer and latterly the Head of Financial Crime at Thomson Reuters.
You are best known as the “Wachovia Whistleblower”. If you knew at the time what you know now would you have blown the whistle? Was it worth it? Has anything changed as a result of what you did?
I am often asked questions about my experience at Wachovia Bank and whether blowing the whistle, as I did in 2008 was something I have lived to regret. For the record, it was substantially the dedication, professional and outstanding detective ability on the part of United States federal agents which led to the actions taken against the bank including the imposition of a financial penalty of $160 million. Moreover, there were many other AML professionals within the bank who were confronting issues, customers and colleagues who presented differing money laundering risks. It wasn’t the Martin Woods show. That said, I did go a step further than my colleagues and I blew the whistle. In addition, I filed hundreds of SARs related not only to Mexican drug trafficking, but also Russian/Eastern European organised crime.
It is right to state my actions put me in direct conflict with senior management within the bank. These included country heads (not the UK country head, he was very supportive of my actions), business unit managers, the head of South America and senior compliance manager colleagues. It subsequently struck me that I was viewed as the problem.
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