Interview with Airinga, MLRO at Colossos
Ex-Revolut. Ex-Western Union, Airinga is the compliance guard at Colossos: she oversees the creation and effective implementation of all compliance procedures. She ensures that Colossos adheres to banking compliance standards and combatting money laundering and fraud.
We all know that compliance and KYC/AML restrictions are complicated in crypto. That's why we asked some questions to her in an interview 👇1 - What's your day-to-day focus as the Money Laundering Officer at Colossos?
In my role as the MLRO at Colossos, my primary focus is upholding strict compliance with the applicable anti-money laundering regulations. Among other responsibilities, this includes spearheading policy development and implementation, conducting thorough risk assessments, overseeing comprehensive AML/CTF training for all staff, ensuring prompt reporting to regulatory authorities and staying updated on all regulatory changes.
2 - What does a normal day look like for you here at Colossos?
No day is the same at this point at Colossos, it is all about ensuring that the Compliance department is well-prepared and ready for seamless future operations. This means that my days are spent tailoring our Compliance procedures by documenting internal procedures and risk based processes, collaborating across departments to enhance our Compliance tools and testing our current processes to make sure they are in line with the requirements of the appropriate legislations and the relevant industry guidance. It’s an exciting phase focused on hands-on involvement and shaping an effective Compliance function.
3 - How did you end up in this role?
While my journey into Compliance began somewhat unexpectedly, it naturally led me to the MLRO role over the course of my career. After university, I started an AML internship at Western Union, which intrigued me enough to transition into a full-time role there. Afterwards, I’ve joined Revolut where I’ve gained valuable experience on navigating fast-scaling fintech compliance and adapting to rapid regulatory and operational changes. Not long after the first crypto companies were established in Lithuania, crypto Compliance sparked my interest and I’ve joined an international crypto on and off ramp, where I’ve transitioned into an MLRO role. A journey I’m excited to continue here at Colossos.
4 - In simple terms, how could you describe what is compliance?
Compliance is essentially like the rulebook that guides our actions. It's making sure we operate within the legal boundaries, following the specific rules and standards set by authorities to ensure we're doing things the right way. It's about embracing a set of guidelines that steer us toward ethical and lawful practices in the industry.
5 - What are some of the biggest challenges you face in monitoring and preventing money laundering at Colossos?
Staying at the forefront of the rapid evolution of criminal strategies poses a significant challenge for us, much like any other fintech. Constant vigilance and learning are key. It's crucial for us to swiftly understand and adapt to emerging trends, ensuring that our preventive measures are effective and timely implemented against the ever-changing methods employed by financial criminals.
6 - What strategies or tools do you use to ensure Colossos stays clear of money laundering activities?
At Colossos, we use a diverse range of strategies and tools to safeguard against money laundering activities. At the heart of it, we prioritize understanding our business risks thoroughly and regularly update a comprehensive enterprise wide money laundering and terrorism financing risk assessment. We also invest in recruiting and training professionals equipped with strong crime-fighting skills to proactively identify and mitigate these risks. Acknowledging the rapidly evolving industry landscape, we focus on investing in cutting-edge tools and technology, such as Chainalysis, and automating processes to optimize resource allocation effectively.
7 - How do you keep up with the constantly changing regulations in the crypto space to ensure Colossos remains compliant?
As an MLRO, one of my main responsibilities is to monitor the news and updates from local and international regulatory bodies, coupled with insights from industry experts and sharing that knowledge with the management and the wider business. Regular participation in Compliance and crypto-centric forums and conferences is also key and provides firsthand insights from regulatory bodies, legal minds, and industry leaders. In addition, our close collaboration with external legal counsel further allows us to stay abreast of the changes and nuances in the regulatory landscape and aids in timely adjustment of our Compliance requirements and standards.
8 - How do you see the trends in cryptocurrency affecting money laundering activities, and what steps is Colossos taking to adapt?
Over the past years, there has been a significant focus on emerging trends such as the evasion of economic sanctions and a concerning level of sophistication among criminals in utilizing cryptocurrencies for fraudulent activities and money laundering. In response, Colossos employs advanced trusted technologies for identity verification and blockchain analytics, enabling the tracing and identification of illicit transactions. Simultaneously, we've established robust Know Your Customer (KYC) measures, positioning us to proactively identify and stay ahead of criminal activities.
9 - What are your main goals or initiatives for the Money Laundering department at Colossos?
Within the AML department, we will focus on two important objectives in the near future. We will aim to build a team of skilled professionals dedicated to leading the forefront of Colossos' Anti Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing efforts. Simultaneously, ensuring Colossos meets all of the requirements set forth by the MiCA regulation by the end of 2024 stands as another key goal. No doubt a busy yet exciting time awaits!
10 - BONUS QUESTION: What advice would you give to someone aspiring to work in anti-money laundering, especially in the crypto industry?
To be successful in Compliance, particularly within the crypto industry, perpetual learning is key. Beyond textbooks, laws and online resources also learn from people around you, no matter their title or position. Secondly, diversify you experience across different AML spheres - onboarding, AML, Sanctions, Fraud, FIU and others – it will all come together and leave you with a nuanced and expansive understanding of Compliance. Lastly, invest time in building a network. It will help you find the light and answers whenever in doubt.
11 - Finally, from your perspective, what’s your take on the current state of regulation in the crypto world?
I believe the current state of regulation in the crypto world is undergoing a pivotal transformation, notably with the impending Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation in the European Union. From my perspective, MiCA stands as a significant milestone and is pivotal in eliminating unreliable actors from the current crypto arena, enhancing the overall market integrity, and benefiting customers due to MiCA’s focus on consumer protection. It's an exciting phase that signals a positive shift towards a more regulated, secure, and credible crypto environment.
Colossos is a crypto banking solution that combines both banking and crypto services, allowing you to easily on and off-ramp with your EUR to deposit, withdraw, and exchange your cryptocurrencies.