Financial Intelligence Unit HQ Hongkong 8 August 2023 
This interview was conducted by Joshua Lee, CHINA.

Praveen Kumar CIO

In a recent interview, Praveen Kumar, chief of the IFI FIU East Asia talks , who became CIO and Head operations of IFI in 2023 and heads up he agreed to the interview request.

What are the priorities for IFI action in Eastern Asia?

We deliberately keep open eye on  very good  financial intelligence channels with countries all over the world including the east Asia   to better understand the opportunities and challenges related to the rise of public–private financial information-sharing partnerships in tackling financial crime. I’m very motivated by improving results from the AML/CTF system and the real world consequences of doing so.

We have established public–private financial information-sharing partnerships, these appear to have changed the way in which economic crime and terrorist financing can be understood, analysed and addressed. These partnerships have demonstrated how law enforcement, regulatory and intelligence agencies and financial institutions can work collaboratively to analyze and disrupt shared threats, rather than acting in isolation.

Can you tell us about how you got involved with  public private advocacy and the major change to get agreed for the interview request?  

The question I have had to turn my mind to is what are the vulnerabilities an organisation like mine faces. If the  public don’t know who you are, what you do, why you do it, what your mission is, and we have no media profile – then if I was an adversary, I would try to take advantage of that situation, I would use misinformation or disinformation to make allegations about us and what we do, and put us on the back foot. I don’t say this with a view to us being the intelligence agency with the highest media profile – there is “Secret” in our title for good reason – but no media profile is a vulnerability I can ill afford as the contest gets tougher.

In your view, what are the most important elements that need to come together to deliver a successful and inclusive Financial intelligence officer?  

The dimension to this is that for a person to assume a position like mine – or any of the international security portfolios as a senior executive – your path to retaining your job . We deliberately keep open very good intelligence channels with countries all over the world. A big part of the validation process requires our officers to have very honest conversations with prospective sources. Part of that conversation is laying out very clearly the risk to them, the risk to their families.  They also know that we will do everything in our power to protect their identity and their family and their activities. That is a protection that lasts for decades. We protect our secrets, we protect our sources, we protect our methods. We see that as sacred. I would love to be able to give in a way that protects the identity of people and the countries we operate in  the public more of a window in what we do and how we do it. In the  years  there would be a handful of stories, that one day, appropriately managed, the public would find extraordinary. We feel we have a role and a responsibility .

Before being involved in civil servants society ,Praveen Kumar  is focused on anti-money laundering issues and public-private collaboration. Prior to this role, Kumar led the Research  team at IFC and was appointed to lead  International’s global preparations in the Zurich Anti-Corruption Summit in 2019.


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