ACFCS confronts global issue of ‘Threat Finance’ by launching Special Task Force

Task Force led by PwC Forensics director, Marissa Michel, a former US intelligence officer

The Association of Certified Financial Crime Specialists today announced the launch of a Task Force on Threat Finance to be chaired by Marissa O. Michel, a Forensics Services director in PwC’s Advisory practice. She previously served as an intelligence officer for a United States agency focused on counter narcotics and money laundering.

The term “threat finance” encompasses all of the means and methods used by worldwide organizations to finance activities that threaten the national security of the US and other countries. It includes the illicit finances of foreign corruption, human trafficking, drug trafficking, trafficking in nuclear materials, weapons of mass destruction and chemical weapons, foreign corruption, organized crime and, of course, terrorism. 

“Threat finance is the crystallization of the decade-long evolution of the attack by legitimate society, including government agencies, financial institutions and commercial corporations, against the many menaces that plague nations and their people today,” said Charles A. Intriago, president of ACFCS and a former US federal prosecutor. “By launching its first Task Force devoted to one of mankind’s most important challenges, ACFCS makes clear that setting standards of knowledge and skill for persons devoted to fighting financial crime is its primary mission.”

PwC director Marissa Michel said, “Effective threat management happens at the strategy level, as the interconnectedness of threats and the ability to prevent companies from achieving their goals, requires a cross-company response. Threat finance is a perfect example of this – it crosses threat areas like organized crime, corruption, and cyber, and can impact your company’s financial records and reporting, supply chain integrity, physical security, and information security controls – all of which leads to financial, reputational, and safety risks. It is not a threat limited to the government space, nor to financial institutions only.

“The ACFCS Task Force on Threat Finance will serve as a resource to the global private and public sector financial crime control community in its combat of these grave national security threats,” Intriago ended. “We are privileged to have such an experienced professional as Marissa Michel leading this important effort alongside an all-star team of ACFCS Task Force members, who each possess great expertise in combating threat finance in diverse private and public sector organizations.”

ACFCS Task Force on Threat Finance

Marissa O. Michel, PwC’s Advisory Forensic Services, Washington, DC

A Forensics Services director in PwC’s Advisory practice , her work in Threat Finance helps companies uncover illicit money flows, identify third parties or insiders who may be exploiting corporate systems, and facilitate remediation if illicit funds or actors are found. She also advises clients on organizational changes that can be made to shore against threat finance and money laundering vulnerabilities. She has led engagements that helped uncover gaps in client preparedness and compliance; assisted clients in conducting research on third parties; and assisted clients in assessing risks to help clients identify where they should focus their limited resources. She joined PwC from a global investment bank, where she was the deputy global head of an operational risk management team. Previously, she served as an intelligence officer for the US Government for six years, focusing on counter narcotics and money laundering analysis.

Joseph ‘JR’ Helmig, Leveraged Outcomes LLC, Washington, DC
Founder of Leveraged Outcomes LLC, he is a thought leader in the financial, analytical, and intelligence fields with expertise in big data, high-speed high-volume operations, and illicit finance. He has successfully identified, created and delivered solutions to Fortune 50 executives, as well as to the senior executive service, senior leader/technical and director levels of the US Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Treasury and intelligence agencies. Previously, he was a principal at Lockheed Martin’s Information Systems and Global Solutions practice where he designed an entity resolution and financial intelligence capability. He has also served as a senior adviser for program planning and coordination at the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), where he was a key part of the multiyear modernization of the agency’s technology, data, and analytical capabilities.

Donald C. Semesky, Financial Operations Consultants, Baltimore
The widely-acclaimed architect of pursuit structures and procedures to attack money laundering, he conceived and developed the Drug Enforcement Administration’s Office of Financial Operations where he launched initiatives that led to the forfeiture of more than $1.7 billion from drug trafficking organizations worldwide. He boasts decades of law enforcement experience, including service as a Special Agent of the US Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division. Now a private sector consultant and advisor, he is the principal of Financial Operations Consultants, LLC in Washington DC, and often testifies as an expert witness in federal courtrooms throughout the United States.

Delena D. Spann, US Secret Service, Chicago
A Special Agent of the US Secret Service, she is a senior member of the Electronic and Financial Crimes Task Force. A financial analysis expert in commodity flow and net worth analysis, she often serves in high impact financial crime cases involving the analysis of voluminous transactions and use of a wide range of other sources and data to establish patterns of crime. Her expertise includes processing complicated sources of information and interpreting it clearly and concisely to enhance the prosecution of criminal cases. She is the author of Fraud Analytics: Strategies and Methods for Detection & Prevention.

John F. Walsh, SightSpan Inc., Charlotte 
An industry leader in financial crime risk management, financial institution and corporate security, anti-money laundering and combating terrorist financing, he founded SightSpan Inc, in 2007, and serves as CEO. He has held several high-level positions in the financial services industry, including leadership roles at Wachovia Bank, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and international trading entities. With more than 25 years of experience in the financial services sector in the US and the Middle East, Europe and Latin America, his expertise and insight into international business management, compliance, security and overall operational risk management distinguish him as a leader in financial crime detection and control.


 ACFCS awards the Certified Financial Crime Specialist (CFCS) certification to qualified specialists who pass a rigorous examination offered at some 700 authorized testing centers worldwide. ACFCS provides its worldwide members and other financial crime specialists with training, including an annual conference, news, analysis and networking. The CFCS certification is the first professional credential that tests competence and skill across the financial crime spectrum, including money laundering, corruption, tax evasion-FATCA and other fields. Persons in 56 countries have earned the certification or are registered to take the CFCS certification examination.

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