This Week in AML

Why There Should Be a 1/6 Commission

This week, Executive Vice President John Byrne, and Creative Director Elliot Berman of the AML RightSource staff talk about the likely creation of a Congressional Commission to investigate the actions of January 6th. John and Elliot discuss what information useful to the financial crimes compliance community may come from such a commission’s activities and why a clear understanding of the roots and long range impacts of the events will be valuable to the community and the nation.

Why There Should be a 1-6 Commission Transcript

Elliot Berman: Hey John, how are you today?

John Byrne: Hey, Elliot, how's it going?

Elliot Berman: Okay, I know that there was a lot of bad weather around the country up here in Milwaukee. We got a little snow, but you know, nothing compared to the folks in the South and that kind of stuff. And we're used to it, so, you know.

John Byrne: Yeah. Some of our colleagues in Texas are really struggling. I talked to an AML professional there just this morning and obviously electrical issues and all sorts of other things that they typically don't have. So yeah, we're thinking about everybody.

Elliot Berman: Yep. So I saw the announcement by speaker Pelosi that she intends to push forward with the creation of a commission to investigate the occurrences around January six. A lot of people are referencing the 9/11 commission as sort of the model for this. I assume you saw that announcement?

John Byrne: I did. And you know, both of us have been around long enough to remember the important output from the 9/11 commission report, especially as it related to the financial sector. But what struck me, is that she mentioned it specifically as a “9/11 type” commission that should investigate and report on the facts and causes related to that. And one of the things that I think will be interesting for our community is what they look at regarding the financial footprint of the rioters.

So, was there backing by groups that we’re not aware of backing by individuals? That was part of what the 9/11 commission looked at, as we both know, and obviously discovered a couple of things. One, obviously the monies used were not that much for what occurred and also that the financial sector really couldn't have been blamed for missing some of what are now red flags and factors to look at for terrorist financing.

So it'll definitely be worth watching just the citizens, but also based on what we need to do as a community to be more proactive. And hopefully it will disabuse some of the things I've seen in the media suggesting that the financial sector that's done a lot of real proactive work since January 6th, to look at account activity and provide that information either on SARS or in some other fashion to law enforcement as good corporate citizens is actually something to be applauded and not condemned.

So I think it will be very interesting besides the obvious, you know, was there enough security, we can all guess that the answer is no, but, reflecting back on the 9/11 commission, one of the outcomes that I remember vividly is they said, “Intelligence agencies are not working together - there's a lot of people deciding they can't share certain information beyond whether the law allows it”.

And similarly here, what was the connection between the use of the national guard, the Capitol police, the DC police, the FBI [etcetera]? So I think all of that will be very fascinating to watch and hopefully we can all learn from that.


Elliot Berman: Yeah. You know, I don't want to say it's a turf war, cause I think that's too strong, but we know, a little bit of a question mark, about which of the federal law enforcement and investigative agencies should really be taking the lead to try to deal with the aftermath because you've got obviously the FBI, would be involved - and you'd expect them to be involved, but Homeland through its various sub-agencies has much more staff. I'm not saying they have more resources, but they definitely have a lot more folks.

And I think it would be really valuable if those two organizations, just as an example, end up working hand in glove, as opposed to getting into [the] “no it's mine”, “no, it's mine”. We know that's not going to solve anything,

John Byrne: As I looked at it, I'm not a hundred percent sure on this, but I think the way it's going to work is that there'll be legislation introduced to create the commission. I don't think the speaker can just simply create one - she probably can, but I think it's probably going to be done legislatively. So I have a series of “prescribed outputs”, in terms of areas of coverage and all that. Our hope is, is they give our community more information on what we can look for going forward. And as you and I have talked about in the past, domestic terrorism is a major priority of law enforcement and certainly needs to continue to be a major priority of those of us in the private sector that that can be vigilant, increase our due diligence and again, be proactive in reporting potential suspicious activity.

Elliot Berman: Yeah, it'll be very interesting to see how this unfolds. I agree with you. I think it will be legislatively created that way. They can also appropriate funds for staff and investigations and that kind of stuff.

And it seems to have bipartisan support. I mean, I always feel a little nervous saying that in today's environment, but there does appear to be sufficient bilateral support to get those things through both houses of Congress and get it on President Biden's desk.

John Byrne: Yeah. Do it sooner versus later.

And just one more [thing] - going back to my earlier comment - those of us in our community, when we see press accounts that just show one side of an issue, we need to stand up and be counted. So for example, as I said, a number of our peers in the financial sector have been very proactive, and that should be commended, not attacked. There's sort of half-stories about it, so I think it's important for us to continue to watch that and respond where appropriate.

Elliot Berman: Agreed. All right. Well, good to talk to you this week. We'll talk again next week, and you stay healthy and safe. Okay.

John Byrne: Stay safe. Take care.

Elliot Berman: Yep, take it easy.

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