A country can rarely solve a problem in isolation, says new FATF VP
Jeremy Weil’s recent appointment is a testament to the considerable experience he has gained in combatting financial crime (Photograph provided)
As the global watchdog for money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) sets international standards to prevent these illegal activities.
This past July, Jeremy Weil, CPA, was selected to serve a two-year term as vice-president of the organization—an appointment that is a testament to the considerable experience he has gained in combatting financial crime, as well as Canada’s importance with the FATF.
Weil is currently a senior director of international crimes and sanctions in the Financial Sector Policy branch of the Department of Finance (Finance Canada). He also worked previously for Canada Revenue Agency and served as a senior advisor to the executive director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean at the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Weil recently met with CPA Canada to discuss his career and new mandate as the most senior Canadian with the FATF.
CPA CANADA: Congratulations on your selection as vice-president of the FATF. How did your work at the IMF prepare you for this position?
JEREMY WEIL (JW): Through the IMF, I understood that effective anti-money laundering/ anti-terrorist financing (AML/ATF) and anti-weapons proliferation policies are key to the integrity of the international financial system.
During my time at the IMF, I also had an opportunity to get involved in diplomacy and international relations—a type of work that requires a lot of tact, including sensitivity to other countries’ cultural perspectives and the ability to find middle ground when parties don’t agree. Those skillsets are also highly applicable to the FATF, which has more than 200 member countries across its global network.
CPA CANADA: You have held a variety of senior-level positions with CRA and Finance Canada. How has this work contributed to the expertise needed to tackle your senior FATF role?
JW: As one example, one of the roles I held at CRA involved ensuring that non-profit organizations and charities were not being abused and misused for terrorism financing. That is also a key objective of the FATF.
At the CRA and the Department of Finance, I have also been involved in work that has required a lot of cross-departmental cooperation with other areas of the federal government. This has deepened my understanding of teamwork, and how problems need to be approached from many different perspectives.
This ability to see many sides of an issue is a key asset when it comes to multilateralism. You can rarely solve a problem in isolation as a country. It takes a multilateral effort to tackle transnational organized crime.
CPA CANADA: What motivated you toward a career in combatting financial crime?
JW: I’ve seen what a devastating impact financial crime can have on peoples’ lives.
When the opportunity presented itself to help people in Canada and other countries to tackle these crimes—or better still, to prevent them from happening in the first place—I jumped on it because that seemed like such a clear, tangible way to give back to Canadians and to the global community.
CPA CANADA: Are there other career paths available for people who are interested in a career in combatting financial crime?
JW: People from all walks of life, in both the public and private sectors, can bring their skills to bear in this area. And from a career track perspective there are many different partner agencies that you can work for if you want to specialize in this investigative field.
For example, in Canada the Department of Finance leads the country’s AML/ATF regime. It works closely with an array of departments and agencies, including the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), the Department of Justice, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Global Affairs Canada, Public Safety Canada, CRA and others.
Financial institutions all have AML functions and chief AML officers. The big consulting firms also have AML advisory functions, and there are private sector asset tracing companies that help find stolen and illicit assets.
CPA CANADA: FATF’s stated priorities during the current presidency of Raja Kumar are to prioritize: strengthening asset recovery; countering illicit finance of cyber-enabled crime; increasing the effectiveness of global anti-money laundering measures; and reinforcing partnerships with FATF-style regional bodies.
How will bringing a Canadian perspective to the vice-presidency role help achieve those objectives?
JW: Canada is a key member of the Asia-Pacific Group AML effort, which includes 40 other countries. We’re also a partner of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force. The Caribbean is a very important strategic region and partner for Canada, and it is the one I worked most closely with at the IMF.
When I first expressed my interest in the vice-president position to President Kumar, he was thrilled that I would be able to bring that prior experience with the Caribbean and Latin America to the FATF.
Internationally, Canada is seen as an honest broker, as a country with the ability to bridge divides, gaps and perspectives, and bring people together to find common ground to tackle the big, tough issues in the global sphere.
CPA CANADA: What is the vice-president’s role at the FATF?
JW: The vice-president is appointed by the president on the advice of the president’s steering group and with the approval of the FATF membership. This position is really about supporting and advising the president—helping them manage a very broad mandate and advance their priorities, while advocating across the global network.
CPA CANADA: What do you want CPAs to know about the FATF and Canada’s role in helping that organization combat financial crime?
JW: Accounting, audit work, tax accounting and corporate governance are all absolutely relevant and germane to the work of the FATF. Likewise, it is important for CPAs to understand the connection that FATF standards have to their work.
The FATF’s Recommendationsdrive regulation in each member country. In addition to government bodies and agencies, the FATF also does a lot of work with the private sector. It consults on its major standards changes and guidance, so CPAs everywhere in Canada need to look for the opportunity to weigh in on those standards, and let their voice be heard through the profession.
As I mentioned previously, Canada is a major player in the FATF, and our voice is respected.
CPA CANADA: How has your CPA designation helped prepare you for the leadership roles you have held during your career?
JW: My designation has helped in many ways. For example, part of my role as vice-president of the FATF is to look after the institution’s good governance. Being a CPA has been core to my ability to understand sound management and governance practices.
At the IMF, I understood budgets, and various business strategies as a result of having my CPA designation.
Jeremy Weil relaxes with his family (Photograph provided)
CPA CANADA: You have publicly indicated how much you value being a dedicated father and husband. How do you balance time for family with the demands of your positions?
JW: The major credit for that goes to my wife Ashleigh. Together, we have three sons—Ethan, 12, Sebastian, 9 and Isaac, 5.
Ashleigh herself has a demanding job at the CRA, but she helps me balance my own arduous work schedule with the ability to spend quality time with my family. She is really my rock. Without her support, I don’t think any of this would be possible.