Citi Spotlight: How Claudia Perez Penuelas Helps Build a More Secure Future
By Claudia Perez Penuelas, Compliance Director, Anti-Money Laundering, Citi September 26, 2013 03:05 PM
Financial crime isn't limited to Ponzi schemes, tax evasion, or even credit fraud. Each year, hundreds of millions of dollars are funneled into Mexico and Latin America for the purpose of supporting organized crime.
As the Director of Anti-Money Laundering Business Advisory function at Banamex, it's my responsibility to ensure that we prevent our bank from being used for such crime. Much of that work is derived from risk assessment--in other words, analyzing the range of day-to-day activities at Banamex, as well as the nature of the products and services we offer to customers.
I came to my current role after working in the internal auditing department at Banamex. Having studied actuarial sciences at university, a career in finance made sense to me - although I didn't stay in the internal auditing department for long!
After Operation Casablanca, a three year investigation into drug trafficking and money laundering that has culminated in indictments against three Mexican banking institutions, there was a heightened awareness around anti-money laundering throughout the industry and within our bank. I was invited to take a new role that focuses on new anti-money laundering activities. Sixteen years later, here I am! Much has changed since then, particularly the acquisition of Banamex by Citi, which was a positive cultural change that drove much of our bank's subsequent growth.
Combating money laundering is never easy, nor is achieving genuine cultural change within an organization. I am very fortunate to have the full support from senior management within Citi to "fight the good fight" and implement new strategies and tactics in a meaningful way. At the moment, we're focused on standardization across all geographic regions. So, whether a client is on-boarded in Mexico or Singapore, we follow the same controls and perceive risk in the same way.
Going back to risk assessment, we're continuing to develop new mechanisms and tools to measure risk, both generally and at different points in time. Just because something is perceived as safe at one time doesn't mean it will remain that way forever, as new geopolitical developments can radically change both social and business climates overnight.
While of course combating money laundering is rewarding in and of itself, I'm also proud to have been recognized by my peers. I was very humbled to be named the "Most Promising Person in their 30s in Mexico" for 2013, and received almost 25% of the public vote.
I certainly had reservations about being considered for this honor, given that anti money laundering is not usually a topic discussed with the general public, especially in a country like Mexico. But at the end of the day, I decided to pursue the opportunity.
The most rewarding part of the nomination process? It wasn't seeing my name in lights - it was having my role at Banamex recognized and commended by the public. Everyone can lose themselves in the day-to-day grind of work, but when you're able to take a step back and see that your efforts are making a difference, it makes going to the office each day all the more rewarding.