Banking Fraud Has No Borders

FIBA Leaders on Global Threats, Solutions for Banks
Banking Fraud Has No Borders
At the recent Bank Security Conference in Miami, Latin American banking leaders gathered to send a resounding message: Fraud is a global banking threat that requires global solutions.

In an exclusive interview conducted at the event, Guillermo Benites and Dario Fuentes of the Florida International Bankers Association discuss:

  • Banking fraud and other security concerns of Latin American banks;
  • Why these security threats require global solutions;
  • FIBA's role in staging a public dialogue on banking/security concerns.

Guillermo Benites, a member of FIBA, is a 20-year veteran in the local and international banking industry. In 2006 he joined Caja Mediterráneo (CAM) as the operations manager of the Miami Agency, being responsible for restructuring and reengineering the international development and function of a European organization opening its doors for the first time in the U.S. Today, he is the vice president operations manager and assumes the responsibility of supervising and directing agency administration and establishing ties in Latin America. In 2002, Benites was the operations manager for Banco de Crédito del Perú where he implemented the necessary infrastructure to open its Miami agency and coordinate the relocation of the New York branch to Miami; he also executed the consolidation of the Miami ASB Agency into the newly established bank agency. Prior to this, Mr. Benites was operations manager for Atlantic Security Bank of Miami, where his duties included project manager for Y2K Transition Project, and was instrumental in cultivating project plans, analytics, operations workflows and strategies for the banks Business Contingency Plan.

Darío Fuentes Álvarez, current president of FIBA, has been vice president and general manager for Caja Mediterráneo - Miami Agency (CAM-Miami) since 2006, responsible for the United States, Latin America and Caribbean markets. Under his leadership, CAM officially became the first Spanish savings bank to be part of the small business loans program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Government Small Business Administration (SBA) Lender Program.

Before coming to Miami, Florida, Fuentes opened and managed a new branch of CAM in the southeastern region of Spain, dedicated to working with foreign investors, particularly in international real estate investment. Prior to joining CAM, he was with Banco Atlantico, one of the five largest banks in Spain, where he managed their investment banking and private banking departments. He was worked in the non-banking sector as the financial manager for a distribution firm, responsible setting up and running their accounting and finance departments.

TOM FIELD: Tell me a little bit about this event. I know that you are a partial sponsor in the Federation of Latin American Banks as well; tell me about them.

GUILLERMO BENITES: It's actually a subcommittee of the FELABAN, who is co-partnership with FIBA and has brought the event to Miami for the first time in 25 years. So for us it was a big challenge when they asked us to help them put on the event, and it has been very successful. We've had 430 participants from 30 countries around the world, 150 financial institutions. For us, when they asked us to do this, we thought it was a perfect fit because there really was no forum of this type of nature in the local community to talk about the needs with security and the issues and best practices.

FIELD: What do you find to be unique about some of the security concerns of the Latin American Banks?

BENITES: Well, first of all, I think that we all share a common goal and we all are trying to combat crime as best as possible. Second, I think that we all have the same problems because it exists, and what you see happens in Europe is happening in Latin America, and its happening here in the states. What is really great about the event, we are able to bring together experts from their countries that can give you real life best practices of how to try to mitigate these risks.

FIELD: Now, you see a number of Latin American institutions. and certainly you've seen a number of American institutions. Where can we in the US learn some lessons from our Latin American friends?

BENITES: I think that one of the things that we can learn probably is that they openly share information. I was invited at the first day of the event, it was a private meeting where they exchanged real life issues, real life scenarios, statistical information, and they were in other words openly sharing what works and what doesn't work, so that the other countries could learn from that and help mitigate the risks.

FIELD: That's real progress because not that many years ago we couldn't even talk about security. We couldn't admit to risks and threats. That is progress. Now you've got your boss with you. Maybe you can introduce him, and we can talk about FIBA as well.

BENITES: Sure, well, not only is he my boss, but he is the President of FIBA this year for 2010-2011, Dario Fuentes. So he can tell you what FIBA's role is and better explain that.

FIELD: Well, Dario, thank you and tell us about FIBA and its role in this event.

DARIO FUENTES: We've been walking with FELABAN in different locations. But this was the first time we both worked together in terms of organizing this important event of security banking and fraud. So for us, we do things that transcend our borders, and that is probably something that we've learned in this conference is that we have this problem in the other countries, and they are suffering that because we do see that we have to share the information and maybe the technology helps in that direction, but also brings out new challenges for us. So I do think that FIBA being one organization in Florida has a very important role, because we are the financial center and the nexus in between United States, Latin American, and now we are incorporating Europe with a high attendance of speakers coming from Spain and from other countries in Europe.

It is very interesting because to know, for example, we have had the presence of the police in Spain, of the FBI here in the United States, and different security administrations in Latin American. So that goes in that same direction that Guillermo mentioned before, and I think it is another example of how can we sit together and share information. What is affecting Europe will definitely have an impact in the United States, so and I do think that Miami plays an important role in all these trends.

FIELD: Well you are right because the criminals don't have borders, so the solutions ought not to.

FUENTES: The solutions have to be global. Something that we do think that we are very focused as bankers in not only places that write systems to try to prevent all this fraud, but to educate our clients and our customers. That is the reason we organize different seminars like this one. While we find not only attendance of bankers, but different vendors, different security industries multi-national because they have the same problems within how are they protecting their data, and at the end of the day that is a work that you have to do together. So by training and by sharing all that information with our customers and trying to be part of the solution and not the problem, I do think that we have a very important goal set.

About the Author

Tom Field

Tom Field

Senior Vice President, Editorial, ISMG

Field is responsible for all of ISMG's 28 global media properties and its team of journalists. He also helped to develop and lead ISMG's award-winning summit series that has brought together security practitioners and industry influencers from around the world, as well as ISMG's series of exclusive executive roundtables.

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