When the controls impose to concrete a business

By Julián Laski

A few weeks ago I received, like many other times, a call from the call center of an important and well-known commercial bank, through which I was offered a credit card. While I do not usually be interested in these types of proposals, where the “small print” usually hides a trap (and some cost), this time my curiosity could do more. And, paying attention, I thought it was a good chance, so I decided to ask what requirements in terms of documentation were needed to proceed with the process. When they told me that they only needed the copy of my document, I opted to accept and proceed to manage the issuance of the card.

From there, the operator of the call center, following the manual in which he was probably trained, began to request the basic data that, intuitively, would be filling in a system: full name, date of birth, occupation, etc. Until, in a moment, we come to the key question, the point of discord: “You are not obligated subject in the matter of prevention of money laundering and financing of terrorism, no?”. The way he asked the question, I would be sincere, was tempted to say no, but I thought it was the truth, so I told him that as an external auditor of financial statements of companies with assets over $ 10,000,000 (Ten million pesos), I am obligated to prevent money laundering. For those unfamiliar with the subject matter, being an obligor is merely included in a list of natural or legal persons who, due to their work or profession, must report a suspicious operation linked to money laundering and financing of terrorism , Without meaning anything in particular. It is something like an assistant referee in football: you must tell the judge of the meeting if you notice any fouls during the game. But for the operator of the call center, probably because of ignorance, my answer aroused alarms and suspicions by virtue of what its procedure indicated. That is why the talk, which was going on in a cordial tone, took an unimaginable turn: in the first instance, the call center operator told me that, directly, she could not apply for the card and that the procedure could not proceed. When I asked the reason, he told me that it was because I was framed in Law 25,246 of money laundering of criminal origin.

Although I did not lose sleep getting the card (in fact, they were offering it to me, I was not requesting it), I was disturbed by the situation, and I told my interlocutor that I was actually a forced subject, not a fugitive or a suspect Of justice. He then asked for a moment to speak to his superior while I waited on the line, which happened for about 20 minutes, during which I was tempted to interrupt the telephone communication on several occasions in order to continue my work. Then the call was restarted and the call center supervisor told me that they would call me the next day to see “how we were going” because, he admitted, the system prevented the process from being continued when the answer to the question “Subject Obliged? “Was a yes, because the bank had strict internal controls and wanted to ensure that its clients were subjected to a strict prior review process.

The situation indicated in this article, where a commercial management was hampered by an alleged need for adherence to internal controls, shows that only one side of the coin is considered as one of the three objectives of internal control models, which Is to comply with applicable laws and regulations (in this case, a procedural manual). Thus, the first of the aforementioned objectives of any control system is left aside, which is to achieve efficient and efficient operations. After all, if a bank – a for-profit company – does not sell its financial products, how do you achieve your goals? One might even ask how the bank gives a credit card without a problem or credit analysis to a client who is not an obligor, but if it is, even if it has the best financial situation, the process is interrupted … Curious, no doubt . But everything is in order to comply with what the procedures manual indicates.

The day after the first telephone conversation I had with the call center operator, I received a call from another bank employee, who told me that “despite being a compulsory subject” – again, as if it were a sin – they could process My application – I did not ask for anything, the bank was the one who offered it – if I presented myself at the branch of the bank and delivered a series of documents which, I believe, only lacked my birth certificate: identity document, Income, inscription as an obligor, last tax payments, affidavits … Pap

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