Compliant officers

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2018-08-20T12:47:28+02:00Mon, 20th Aug '18, 11:22|0 Comments

Accountants are often private people. They do their work diligently and quietly and often avoid drawing attention to themselves.  Vincent Camilleri, the accountant at Portmann Capital Management Ltd, will probably be surprised to find even his existence discussed in a political blog. Not to mention seeing his CV assessed by someone who, like me, does not come from his professional line.

Portmann Capital Management Ltd came to public attention just yesterday when it was outed by a government leak as the until then unnamed Maltese company alleged by US Federal Agents to have helped Venezuelan relatives of the president launder misappropriated funds.

Malta’s regulator lists publicly companies it licenses and authorises to conduct financial services and also lists a contact person for each of these companies. Vincent Camilleri is listed as the contact person for Portmann. He is designated Compliance Officer.

Being a Compliance Officer is an enormous responsibility. Consider this blog about what a compliance officer is expected to do. In summary, they are there to ensure compliance with the external rules that are imposed on the company, which means obeying all the complex anti-money laundering rules incumbent on financial services companies.

It’s not easy to know all that stuff. Look at Belgian standards for someone to be allowed to act in this role there. They have to sit for specific examinations on the duty of vigilance and anti-money laundering. And they must then register for permanent training to be allowed to stay on in the role.

Malta’s requirements are nowhere near as tight.

Vincent Camilleri’s Linked-In page shows he’s been Compliance Officer, Company Secretary, Money Laundering Reporting Officer and Director of Portmann for almost six years. He’s no spring chicken. He joined Portmann after twenty years as an accountant with several employers, and that’s after thirteen years in management in manufacturing.

Therefore his experience is not in question at all.

His training in compliance and anti-money laundering, however, is non-existent. He has an ‘A’ level in Accounts, a Diploma in Accounting, and certificates in management and maritime insurance.

He did undergo courses to use Microsoft Excel and to acquire competence in management and public speaking. But again he has had no discernible training in anti-money laundering and compliance in financial services.

And yet he appears to have fronted and put his name down as the person responsible for a company that has allegedly helped launder €511 million in 10 wire transfers. US federal agents allege Portmann received upwards of €20 million for cleaning the money at a 4% service charge.

Portmann Capital denies any wrongdoing.

This post is not a criticism of Mr Camilleri. We know nowhere near enough about what has happened there to justify that. I do not even presume to evaluate the extent of his awareness of what might have been going on at his workplace.

Malta Today yesterday published its research into the ownership of Portmann. Portmann Capital Management was set up in 2011 as a subsidiary of XPCT Limited, whose two shareholders are Swiss nationals Kurt Portmann, a Dubai resident, and Yves-Alain Portmann.

Kurt Portmann is the founder of private equity firm Portmann Finances SA of Switzerland and has served as a director on various energy and oil and gas firms. He is the founder-chairman of London brokers Optiva Securities. 

They know international financial services, I suspect rather better than their employee Vincent Camilleri.

It seems to me that Mr Camilleri is representative of the entire country in this sector. 

Unless we up our game, get ongoing training, improve our professional skills, increase our standards, we are going to let smarter crooks use us to their nefarious ends until they get caught and leave our names besmirched by their actions.