Through its program, Combating the Financing of Terrorism and Money Laundering, the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held a regional meeting of exchange houses with the Brazilian Association of Exchange Houses (Portuguese, Associação Brasileira de Câmbio – ABRACAM) between September 14 and 15, with representatives from Paraguay, Brazil, and Uruguay in attendance. The event featured presentations by the associations of exchange houses in Brazil and Paraguay, showcasing their respective best practices in the field. There was also a presentation conducted by the Financial Intelligence Unit of Brazil and the Program's experts. Exchange houses, like ABRACAM, are member-based organizations that work to strengthen and expand foreign exchange services (i.e. currency exchange) for companies and consumers in their countries. For example, the members that partner with ABRACAM include banks, foreign exchange brokers, and securities brokers and distributors.
On the first day, the Financial Intelligence Unit of Brazil provided insights into current regulations, their organizational functions, and the ways in which exchange houses can receive support and make use of technical information. Exchange houses from Brazil (ABRACAM) and Paraguay (Spanish, Asociación de Casas de Cambio del Paraguay, ACCP), represented by their Vice President Fernando Borges and President Emil Mendoza, respectively, shared valuable insights from their experiences, fostering a collaborative environment for mutual learning.
In coordination with its implementing partners, the Program conducted training sessions where consultants from Mexico were able to share their expertise in strengthening the exchange system to mitigate risks associated with money laundering by criminal groups, organized crime, or terrorist organizations. Notably, one participant from the Paraguayan exchange house mentioned, “The Mexican experience served to understand the steps taken in that country and what steps we could take in our exchange houses to improve the AML/CFT system."
Among other training sessions, the program included a presentation by a former leader of the Brazilian Financial Intelligence Unit, which offered guidelines for local exchange houses to better align with international regulations, best practices, and recommendations.
The second day of the regional forum featured a discussion space moderated by program consultants, focusing on the Integrity Pact of the Exchange Associations of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay. After exchanging points of view and achievable joint goals to combat the financing of terrorism and money laundering, an official Integrity Pact was signed by the Presidents of the associations of all four countries.
Within the agreement, the association from each country committed to promoting the development of an integrated economic and financial system that ensures stability and discourages criminality; supporting efforts to protect economic and financial integrity through regulatory intelligence and criminal action, effectively preventing money laundering, terrorism financing, and other identified financial crimes; raising awareness about the importance of protecting economic and financial integrity; and encouraging transparency and corporate governance policies to strengthen integrity in business management, among other commitments such as training, annual meetings, and strengthening technical cooperation.
Among the conclusions of the event, the president of ABRACAM mentioned, "This meeting has been fundamental in strengthening collaboration between our associations and improving practices within the exchange house sector. The signing of the Integrity Pact marks an important milestone in our joint commitment against money laundering and terrorism financing.”
The President of the Paraguayan Association of Exchange Houses expressed:
"We are very satisfied with the results of this event. Regional collaboration is essential to address challenges in our sector and strengthen financial integrity in the region".