Interview with Giles Brake, CEO of Alliott Global Alliance
1. What is the history behind the Alliott Global Alliance? And who has created AGA and why?
AGA was founded in London in 1979 by five independent accounting firms from the UK, Europe, and Australia. The aim was to provide competition to what were known as the ‘Big Eight’ accounting firms back then by establishing a global alliance of medium sized firms that would provide a more personalised service to privately held international companies. The AGA value proposition continued to develop and in 2004, AGA expanded into legal services. We are now the world’s fifth largest multidisciplinary services alliance, with over 300 offices in 95 countries.
2. It is the 2nd consecutive year; AGA is the Main sponsor of the Cryptoverse Summit in Mauritius. Can you please tell us the rationales for sponsoring such an event?
This area of the economy is global by nature and players within this space, whether considering cross-border transactions or holding structures etc., will need access to business and crypto savvy lawyers and accountants across multi jurisdictions. Within AGA we have an established crypto committee with colleagues from member firms who are very knowledgeable about their jurisdiction’s legal system and tax regime. Our members know each other personally, work together seamlessly to provide an efficient global solution, and have their finger on the pulse with regards to the latest developments and opportunities linked to cryptocurrency.
Through our worldwide crypto committee we can bring to events like the present one an array of professionals that literally covers the globe, as can be seen from our AGA panel at the Cryptoverse Summit, which comprises of members from Argentina, Hong Kong, Mauritius, USA, UK, and Uganda. There are very few networks in the world, especially in the field of crypto, that has the capacity of doing this.
3. How many members AGA has reached up to now and in how many countries are AGA represented? Are there some specific requirements/criteria that need to be respected to join the AGA network?
AGA member firms now offer legal, accounting, audit, and tax solutions in 300 cities in 95 countries across six continents. Each firm is required to be medium sized in their jurisdiction, offer a comprehensive range of business services across a wide range of sectors, have English speaking staff, and be able to demonstrate responsiveness, efficient, high levels of client service, local expertise, and results-driven work.
4. There are more and more regulations and legal frameworks being implemented by different countries across the world to regulate virtual assets and to set parameters for Virtual Assets Service Providers and to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Do you think that a more regulated environment would be beneficial to the crypto industry?
The simple answer to whether we need a regulated environment is a definite yes, given the ease with which virtual assets may be used to proliferate money laundering. However, we must watch out for overregulation as this may lead to de-risking which is not a healthy state of affairs for any financial jurisdiction as if may force legitimate business activities out of the regulatory radar which may in turn create openings and opportunities for bad actors.
5. We understand that an AGA fintech committee consisting of different members from around the globe has been constituted. Why this decision to create such a committee? And what will be the role of this committee?
We decided to set up the committee simply because we had many member firms which are at the apex of their respective jurisdictions and to group them together.
As hinted earlier, one of the roles of the committee is to bring to the end clients of the member firms access to multi-jurisdiction professional competence. Hence in that sense one AGA member firm can be the single point of contract for its clients involved in the space of virtual assets and blockchain in general. Over and above this, given the inherent dynamism of the application of the technology and the rapidly evolving worldwide regulatory frameworks with jurisdictions having different positionings from the other, every single day is an eventful one. The task of keeping updated, for a professional operating within the virtual asset space, is not only a daunting one but an almost impossible one. At the level of the crypto committee the members are constantly updating each other and bring to the table ongoing discussions which is a much-needed feature in this space.
6. Do you think that Mauritius jurisdiction has a great potential to become a Fintech Hub? If yes, what are the reasons?
Certainly. Firstly, it is one of the very few countries which has an elaborate and comprehensive legal framework which is supported by other frameworks such as guide notes and draft guide notes on NFTs, stablecoins, Decentralised Autonomous Organisations (DAO) and rules such as travel rules etc.
Also, Mauritius is one of the 6 countries in the world which is compliant with the Financial Action Task Force recommendations. It is largely compliant with recommendation 15, which deals with aml/cft rules pertaining to new technologies like virtual assets and blockchain. Mauritius is known to have a staunched good governance culture.
The dynamic mindset of the jurisdiction coupled with the full extent of the FATF recommendation compliance and good governance culture create a uniqueness and, in my view, an appealing feature for serious players.
7. We have noticed that a panel discussion, for the Cryptoverse Summit, has been allocated to AGA Members to discuss the ‘Importance of worldwide compliance for the Crypto industry.’ Can you please share the names and countries of the members who have been selected to join this panel?
Ashveen Gopee, Mauritius; Diego Nunes, Argentina; Audra White, USA; Anthony Marrin, Hong Kong; Greg Pooler and Max Marmor (UK) and Kenneth Muhangi from Uganda.
8. What are the 2 main reasons for a firm to join the Alliott Global Alliance?
First, by joining AGA, progressive, medium sized professional services firms immediately gain global reach and the ability to place their clients into a safe pair of hands anywhere in the world where professional services are needed. Secondly, a firm can lever this global reach to grow its revenues by expanding the range of services available to clients- collaboration with other member firms will unlock new opportunities.