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What is digital currency exactly? How does it function? And most importantly, how can we guarantee its security for global users?


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Insights on Financial Crime

With Michael Heller (Dow Jones Risk & Research)

Based in Los Angeles and having been with Dow Jones for a decade, Michael Heller is currently responsible for corporate strategy and go-to-market, globally, for the Financial Crime Compliance (FCC) business. He draws from a background as an entrepreneur, attorney, sales executive, and advisor to ensure clients building efficient compliance and risk management programs leverage the right data and technology. 


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Michael's career has been focused on bringing transparency to global business. After law school, he worked as a consultant with the Business Intelligence Group and later, the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) Group at Goldman Sachs in New York. Admitted to practice law in California, he has also served as chief compliance officer and counsel at Abacus Wealth Partners in Los Angeles.

Financial institutions and multinationals rely on data and technology to prevent and detect financial crime. Recent geopolitical developments have made it even more critical for those participating in the globalised economy to embrace innovation for managing downside risks related to money-laundering, corruption, and sanctions evasion. Navigating the risk landscape in APAC, for example, presents formidable challenges as organisations must be well-prepared to address myriad regulatory requirements in jurisdictions with vastly different levels of development and financial and legal sophistication.

Financial crime in the region also exhibits a high degree of complexity due to factors such as rapid economic growth, the embrace of digital payments and crypto to move stored value across borders, and diverse cultural and governmental approaches to corruption and AML. 

It is in that spirit that Michael chats with Regulatory Ramblings host Ajay Shamdasani about the challenges of addressing money-laundering in Asia with an emphasis on the importance of adverse media screening to ensure FCC programs are keeping pace with regulatory expectations.  

They also discuss the potential positives and negatives of Artificial Intelligence for financial crime and third-party risk management. Michael stresses the ultimate aim of embracing new technology is to bring greater transparency to risk management workflows, enabling institutions and corporates alike to screen customers and third parties at speed and scale.

Indeed, as their discussion highlights, AI is poised to emerge as a game changing solution for compliance professionals; from reducing false matches to identifying patterns that could indicate suspicious activity. They also talk about noteworthy trends Michael has observed across the region concerning the development of disruptive technologies and the associated risks they pose. 


He also shares his views on the efficacy of initiatives by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority to encourage and support the local financial sector’s adoption of AML and CFT RegTech, of which natural language processing for news monitoring is a key part (linked below). 


The conversation ends with Michael providing tangible examples of how such capabilities can be effectively utilised to fill gaps in the current regulatory compliance landscape. He concludes with his predictions of the most pressing financial crime and technology-related challenges that institutions are likely to face in the next 12 months. 

Regulatory Ramblings podcasts is brought to you by The University of Hong Kong - Reg/Tech Lab, HKU-SCF Fintech Academy, Asia Global Institute, and HKU-edX Professional Certificate in Fintech, with support from the HKU Faculty of Law.

Useful links in this episode:

  • Connect with Michael Heller on: LinkedIn

  • AML/CFT Regtech: Case Studies and Insights Volume 2: HKMA Website

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Regulatory Ramblings Podcasts List

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Regulatory Ramblings Podcast


Welcome to Regulatory Ramblings, a new podcast from a team at The University of Hong Kong on the intersection of all things pertaining to finance, technology, law and regulation. Hosted by the HKU Reg/Tech Lab, HKU-Standard Chartered FinTech Academy and the HKU-edX Professional Certificate in FinTech, join us as we hear from luminaries across multiple fields and professions as they share their candid thoughts in a stress-free environment - rather than the soundbites one typically hears from the mainstream press.

Regulatory Ramblings is a forum for those that appreciate long-form conversation. While it is something that may be regarded as lost art of an older time, it is nonetheless sorely needed in an age when glibness and flippancy pass for analysis in conventional journalism.

Having said that, we are grateful to be able to avail ourselves of modern technological resources to bring you chats with people you are probably not going to hear from elsewhere.



Ajay Shamdasani is a veteran writer, editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. He holds an AB in history and government from Ripon College, JD and MIPCT degrees from the University of New Hampshire Franklin Pierce Law School, and an LLM in financial regulation from the Illinois Institute of Technology’s Chicago-Kent College of Law.

His 15-year long career as a financial and legal journalist began as deputy editor of A Plus magazine – the journal of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. From there, he assumed the helm of Macau Business magazine as its editor-in-chief, and later, joined Asialaw magazine as its deputy editor.   More recently, he spent close to seven years as a senior correspondent with Thomson Reuters’ subscription-based trade-wire service Regulatory Intelligence/Compliance Complete (previously called Complinet) in Hong Kong. While there, he covered regulatory developments in that city, as well as Singapore, India and South Korea.

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