Coming from the land of roses to become the coolest adventurer and an activist on Human Trafficking

Nathalie Schinzig

The multicultural and Financial Crime Compliance Nathalie Schinzig, is an inspiration for those who already know her. She was born in the land of roses and rose oil, Bulgaria. Due to her parent’s professional life, Nathalie left Bulgaria when she was 10 years old. She lived in different countries and has triple citizenship – Swiss, French and Bulgarian.

Being a holder of three nationalities, how do you identify yourself?

I identify myself as a multicultural person,” – smiles Nathalie. – “I lived in six different countries embracing the cultural diversity from early age. These multicultural experiences are incredibly valuable to me. They have shaped me into the person who I am today. I would say that the multiculturalism is in my DNA. My family is pluri-cultural, we have different nationalities and religions, each one of us is fluent in at least three languages and for myself, four. Combined together we speak ten different languages.

My second homeland is Switzerland – the country with direct democracy where every single person has the right to say something in politics, as the Swiss vote on almost every law that gets passed, at the federal, cantonal and local levels; the country ranked with one of the highest quality of living and one of the most beautiful places on Earth. 

I am extremely proud to be a citizen of a country which is signatory to all relevant international human rights instruments and to be part of one of the world’s most prosperous nations.

Nevertheless, wherever I live or travel now, Bulgaria will always hold a very special place in my heart with its picturesque landscapes of mountains and rivers on one side and sun-kissed beaches and azure sea on the other, with beautiful towns and villages that continue to fascinate me with their own charm and aura.

The country has been related to roses for centuries and today is world number one producer of rose oil from the rare rose type Rosa Damascena. This is why Bulgaria is called the land of roses. 

It is also the oldest country in Europe existing under its own name and is the heir to the famous ancient civilisation of the Thracians. 

Nathalie is passionate about aviation, mountains, cold water swimming and the fight against financial crime and human trafficking.

Her love affair with Monaco began in 1998 when she visited the country for the first time.

I think it started the moment I had my first meal on the terrace of the mythic Café de Paris surrounded by the “Belle Époque” buildings. In the afternoon as I drove past buildings in Monte Carlo with luxurious facades, gorgeous views and old-style exteriors, it reminded me of Paris and I thought: 

“Wow, it is one of the most charming countries in the world! I would love to stay here forever”

But for various reasons I couldn’t realise my dream at that moment.

Nevertheless, for many years, she traveled to Monaco for business and private trips and noticed how the Principality’s urban landscape changed since her first visit.

I love this unique combination of urban sophistication and small-town charm that the Principality of Monaco offers. I adore that its provincial markets, cobbled streets, and quaint cafes sit side by side with designer boutiques and chic restaurants that make for a truly sublime lifestyle.

Until 2020, Nathalie lived in her second homeland, Switzerland, which is a dream country for a lot of professionals in the financial industry. 

However, she wanted something different, a place that is known in the financial world yet not a big city, a sunny place that is not far from the mountains and the sea, a place that is synonymous with glamour, therefore Monaco.

So, when at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 one of the most famous Executive Recruitment specialist in my field in Switzerland, Dominic Thatcher, contacted me asking if the position of Head of Compliance in Monaco could be of interest to me, I immediately said yes of course,” – giggles Nathalie.

Once the conditions were agreed and the job contract signed, Nathalie left Switzerland and started her new position in one of the oldest and biggest Trust and Corporate Service Provider companies in the Principality.

What impressed you the most when you moved here? 

There are three things: safety, famous people and the real estate prices in Monaco per square meter.

Monaco is the safest country in Europe and maybe in the world whether it be during the day or at night time. The entire country is covered by a 24-hour CCTV system and has one of the world’s best police forces. 

There are police officers everywhere, and many are plain clothed. So, no criminal activity can go undetected. Everyone feels totally safe in Monaco. It is impressive!

As an attractive destination for some of the most notable people worldwide, from sporting legends to Hollywood stars. It is easy to rub shoulders in Monaco with famous people no matter where you go – on the street, in a café, or at an event. 

And when you’re lucky, you might be invited to a celebrity dinner to get up close and personal with some of Monaco’s most famous faces.

I thought that real estate prices wold be similar to those in Switzerland, but I quickly understood that buying a flat in Monaco is not forthcoming for me as Monaco’s real estate is the most expensive market in the world.

Is there anything that still impresses you in Monaco?

Monaco is one of the most expensive countries in the world and I am still blown away by how luxurious it truly is. 

I think that the most in-my-face signs of wealth in the day-to-day life in Monaco are the cars. 

This is especially true in front of the casino where many flashy cars are parked – customised Lamborghinis, Bugattis, and Ferraris, but these types of cars are all over the city too, on most streets, in parking lots, and driving around. 

Beside that, the population is extremely friendly and actually very helpful, much more than I ever expected. People care about each other and do what they can to help. It makes me feel at home.

The Aviatrice

Relocating to the South of France, Nathalie quickly became a member of the Club Alpin Monégasque and Monaco Diving Club (C.E.S.M.M.) and she enjoys a lot of their events – hiking in mountains or a sea trip.

Despite the fact that she is working in a completely different industry and profession, Nathalie has been passionate about aviation since her childhood. 

Nathalie Schinzig
Nathalie Schinzig

Although she had excellent grades in high school, the surroundings and the environment at that time did not allow her to study aeronautical engineering and flying. That is why she did engineering studies as her first degree and she has a M.Sc. in Engineering with Honors from the Kharkov Polytechnic University.

Years later when I met the man who became my husband, a former fighter pilot from the Swiss army, my “Top Gun”, I discovered a fascinating world of aeronautical enthusiasts. With my husband and his friends I was involved in the restoration of our Fouga-Magister CM170 former plane of the Patrouille de France. 

We spent weekends in Beauvais, France dismantling and restoring parts of the plane and finally we started to redo the blue white red colours of the PAF. At the same time, we were doing maintenance on the full composite plane that my “Top Gun” built himself in the 90s.

Together with our son we have been doing interesting and fun flights for almost 20 years. We traveled in Europe between Sweden, Austria, Switzerland and Italy with its wonderful island of Sicily. 

We love to take our small plane, a Piper PA28 Turbo Arrow IV and to fly to Gstaad (Saanen airport) in Switzerland then a short walk and we are in our chalet for a weekend in the Swiss Alps, or to have a romantic weekend in Venice.

Since I have been working in Monaco, our center of interest has moved south and with that our aeronautical activity as well. Now I am flying from Cannes Mandelieu airfield. 

Often I fly an hour away to the St. Rambert airfield to meet the happy team of friends from the AéroRétro Association, which is the second largest flying museum in France after La Ferté Alais. Here I find pleasant relaxation by taking part in the restoration of our Russian plane, the Yakovlev YAK-11 (NATO reporting name: “Moose”). 

I also participate with them in air meetings throughout France with our collection of fabulous planes, like the Swiss Pilatus P2 with which the association was involved in Steven Spielberg’s film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” or even the North American T6 that played in Spielberg’s movie “Empire of the Sun”. 

These two planes are often accompanied by the rest of the collection such as the French aircraft, the Caudron Luciole that is unique in the world, and the two Boeing Stearman, or the Russian Yakovlev YAK-18. Here we spend evenings with friends and talk about our current projects, such as the restoration of another unique aircraft the Caudron Aiglon, the Nord Alpha, the Fieseler Storch or even future projects, such as the reconstruction of the famous and formidable German aircraft of World War II, the Focke Wulf 190. 

Personally, I am involved in finding funding for the purchase of the iconic North American P-51 Mustang which is one of the most famous fighters of World War II. Powered with a British-designed Rolls-Royce Merlin engine it is called The Plane that won the War!

I dream of flying in this legendary plane. By the way, the P-51 Mustang can be seen in the first and the last scenes of the film « Top Gun: Maverick » and it’s owned by Tom Cruise in real life. I dream of flying in this legendary plane on patrol with Tom Cruise.

Financial Crime Compliance & MONEYVAL

Nathalie Schinzig
Nathalie Schinzig

When it comes to her daily job, Nathalie is qualified in Financial Crime Compliance and has many years of experience in the wealth management industry, private banking, and advisory services. 

Currently, she is the Head of Compliance of one of the biggest and oldest Trust and Corporate Service Provider (TCSP) in the Principality. 

Being a Compliance leader isn’t for the fainthearted. It’s a tough job with high risks that I never take lightly. Penalties for non-compliance often fall squarely on the shoulders of the Compliance leader and personal liability should be a concern. 

I have to say that being a Compliance leader takes nerves of steel and copious amounts of patience and persistence, not to mention high levels of functional organisation and self-motivation.

I love this job as there is absolutely no typical day, no routine! My role as head of Compliance is extremely diverse and, as the compliance burden increases and families become more global, the challenge of the position becomes ever greater.

What does compliance do in Monaco?

From an Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) perspective, the Compliance Officers (COs) in Monaco do the same as their colleagues in other jurisdictions as the requirements are the same for everyone. The job of CO depends on the industry and the level of the position. 

As a few example, a CO in a TCSP field  gives advice to colleagues regarding financial and AML/CFT regulations, the on-boarding of a new client, the screening of existing clients, assessing regulatory risks, reviewing client files, reviewing press articles, preparation and revision of procedure manuals, organising training sessions with client-facing staff on AML/CFT regulations, and the list goes on.

I would say that today, keeping abreast and keeping staff informed of the ever-evolving and changing environment is one of the most challenging aspects for each Compliance team.

It’s important to mention that we have the Monégasque Association of Compliance Officers, AMCO, with the purpose of bringing together all the Compliance Officers of the Principality. 

I am a member of the Association and can say that it is very active, and is a great space for meetings and collaboration, where the Monégasque COs can exchange best practices, discover new approaches, and actively contribute to the implementation of effective compliance measures.

Founded in 2000, today AMCO has more than 220 members who represent more than 12 different professional sectors (Banks, Wealth Management Companies, TCSP & Multi Family Office (MFO), Lawyers, Legal Advisers, Accountants, Real Estate Agents, Yacht Brokers, Sports Agents, Insurers, Casinos, Consultants, etc.). 

We have five different Committees split per sector, I am the Administrator of the TCSP & MFO Committee.

Can you describe a typical workday?

A day may consist of preparing and presenting compliance reports to the management; interacting with regulators (local and in other jurisdictions) on compliance issues; coordinating efforts related to audits, reviews, and examinations; developing policies and programs that encourage managers and employees to report suspected fraud and other crimes, without fear of retaliation; coordinating internal compliance reviews and monitoring activities, including periodic reviews; independently investigating and acting on matters related to compliance; preparing and filing Automatic Exchange of Information reports (CRS/FATCA); monitoring external review processes; providing guidance, advice, and Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism training to the staff.

Amongst those mentioned above, my responsibilities include staying abreast of the many changes in tax and international fiduciary structuring developments.

Every day brings a new challenge, which I am always ready to meet.

What do you think about the recent MONEYVAL report?

The latest Moneyval report encourages Monaco to intensify its efforts in the investigation and prosecution of money laundering, the confiscation and recovery of proceeds of crime, and strengthen its supervisory system, adding that the country has demonstrated a moderate level of effectiveness.

I agree with the conclusions of the Moneyval report on this point. 

This is the reason why the government passed various texts of legislation in December 2022 and this year allowing Monégasque legislation to comply with European standards in this area, in particular, the law on the fight against money laundering, the financing of terrorism, and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the law on the preliminary investigation, on the seizure and confiscation of criminal assets or international cooperation in criminal matters. These texts will enter into force very soon.

Compliance professionals in all sectors are under huge pressure and we are doing our best to prevent the Principality of Monaco from being placed on a grey list.

Human trafficking

Nathalie Schinzig
Nathalie Schinzig

Many years ago, at one of the European Conferences in Amsterdam organised by the Compliance Week (a business intelligence service on corporate governance, risk, and compliance magazine published by Wilmington plc), Nathalie participated in a one-day workshop related to Financial Intelligence and Human Trafficking. 

Why are you passionate about human trafficking?

In this training program, Grahame White, a former Senior Detective at the National Terrorist Financial Investigations Unit at New Scotland Yard and Former Head of European Operations for ACAMS (Association of Certified Anti-MoneyLaundering Specialists, taught us on real cases (already closed), how to identify the financial flows of one of the most lucrative illicit businesses in the world – human trafficking and how the proceeds of this crime are laundered and re-injected in the financial industry, how lucrative a trafficked person and newborn babies can become, etc. I was shocked at what I heard, and once I was back home in Switzerland I started to learn as much as possible on this matter.

There is an estimated number of 40 million people who are currently trapped in conditions of modern slavery globally. Despite a blanket ban on such practices, modern slavery remains a big business, generating an estimated USD 150 billion in illicit funds each year.

Human Trafficking is a global problem and one of the world’s most shameful crimes, affecting the lives of millions of people around the world and robbing them of their dignity. Nearly every country in the world is affected by human trafficking, as a point of origin, transit or destination.

Human Trafficking is a crime, it doesn’t matter who is the victim – an adult or a child, woman or man, but I am more concerned about children. They account for 27% of all the human trafficking victims worldwide, and two out of every three child victims are girls. 

They are primarily trafficked for forced labor and sexual exploitation. It’s a crime and represents the tragic end of their childhood… they are forced to drop out of school, risk their lives and are deprived of what every child deserves – a future.

If, with my actions, I can help to make a change in the lives of at least a few people, I will be satisfied.

Based on your opinion, would Monaco be a good place for such a conference on human trafficking and how this could add value to the Principality?

The Principality like a lot of other countries should raise awareness and train professionals focusing on victims’ rights. Taking into account that the promotion and respect of human rights are key aspects of Monaco’s foreign policy, in my opinion, this country is the best place for an international conference on this matter. 

Moreover, Monaco is an important international financial centre with numerous banks, financial companies, portfolio and asset management companies, which has become one of its economic strong points. 

The financial institutions may be connected to modern slavery and human trafficking through their own operations, or through their business relationships without their knowledge. 

As the financial sector is so intertwined with the rest of the economy, action in this sector can help change the way the whole global economy works.

As a professional coming from the financial sector, I am convinced that the financial industry can lead the transformation of the global economy to address modern slavery and human trafficking. 

Monaco and its financial institutions can be part of the fight through such events as an international conference which can raise awareness not only for professionals in the financial field, but from other sectors of the economy as well.

A project dear to her heart, Nathalie is going to organise next year the International Compliance Conference dedicated to the fight against Human Trafficking, Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing and their relation to the financial world, as these three are intimately related.  

Internationally recognised experts in each of these fields will highlight awareness of these global problems and will enable Monaco professionals to exchange and learn from the experience of international specialists.

Living in Monaco

How would you describe women in Monaco? 

Women in Monaco come from all over the world. They are multicultural, outgoing, intelligent, creative and entrepreneurial. They are present in each sector of the economy – finance, fashion, art, real estate, legal firms, etc. 

I am often impressed how these women manage a busy professional life, family life and find time for themselves being always looking confident and elegant. 

However, it’s not a secret that in Monaco many women do not work as their family life does not require them to be breadwinners. Maybe this situation is comfortable for them, I don’t know.

And how about in the field of your profession?

In my professional life, I have been lucky to meet women who are excellent leaders with very important positions at international levels and I have learned a lot from them. Women are extremely good performers and have a tendency to be better listeners and more approachable, better at consensus building which is important in the Compliance field. 

Nevertheless, as in a lot of European countries, in Monaco the top management positions are often occupied by men. Statistically, women hold less than 25% of C-Suite positions, which is a shame. On the other hand, in the Principality all women, regardless of their social standing or background, or whether they are locals or tourists, are very well received wherever they go which makes you feel special and very welcome.

What was the best advice you have ever received in life?

I think that the best advice I have ever received came from my “Top Gun” as he always says: “Always anticipate and never give up!” It’s used in aviation but is very useful in day-to-day life too.

There is another piece of advice that I received many years ago. It popped up  in an application on my iPhone at a crucial moment of my life:

The 3 C’s in life: Choice, Chance, Change. 

You must make the Choice, to take the Chance, if you want anything in life to Change. 

I know that a lot of people will laugh if I say that this advice was sent to me by the Universe, but I like to believe in it as I received it exactly at the right moment. So, I made the right choice and took the chance and my life changed forever in a better way.

Your passion for aviation and your professional job are very mentally and physically demanding. How do you keep yourself fit?

I try to keep regular physical activities, but I never liked to go to  gyms. I prefer outdoor activities like hiking, mountaineering, skiing, bicycling, Tai Chi, etc. 

One day, while watching the sea,  I thought “I have been living on the sea front for 3 months already and still have not swam  once. This has to change!” 

So, on the morning of 1st November, I did my first swim since living here. It has become my routine. I swim almost every morning before going to the office without wearing a wetsuit, even in the winter when the water is 11 degrees Celsius. This is how I have become addicted to cold water swimming. In the morning, as I do not have a lot of time, I swim 25-30 minutes. On the weekends 45-50 minutes even in the winter, in the cold sea.

It is a big thing for me as I used to be afraid to swim where I could not touch the seabed, and in the beginning, I thought “OMG, why am I going into the sea at 7 am in the morning when no one is around? I am not a very good swimmer and am afraid of deep water…” 

By the end of 2020, I overcame my fear and now I am very proud of myself.

Finally, about being healthy in your  body. You are vegan. Is it easy to find food options in Monaco?

100% vegan restaurants still do not exist in Monaco. Except Blue Bay which only has one, pre-set menu.

In the gourmet restaurants with Michelin stars and Japanese or Chinese restaurants you are almost guaranteed to find vegan and sometimes raw food. In the rest of the restaurants, for a daily lunch, it is still not very common, only few restaurants give such options on their menu.  

The same is valid for a gluten-free food. And I don’t  understand why. It is not complicated to prepare vegan food and in Monaco there are a lot of vegan and gluten-free customers (residents and tourists).

Of course, I can order as a starter a salad asking the Chef to take off the fish, or the meat, or the eggs and the cheese, and as a main dish to have just vegetables that are given as side dishes, and this is what I usually do. 

There are some restaurants that offer a vegan poke bowl and it’s fine to have this option from time to time, but I would love to have something more elaborate, not just pasta with tomato sauce or a plate with all the vegetables that the Chef has found in the kitchen. 

It would be great to have on the menu a choice of vegan dishes (with tofu, seitan, tempeh) that look elegant, tempting, appetizing, tasty, and are also delicious. And that the Chef with each vegan dish tells a story, whether it is a personal memory of the smell of burnt onions, or the background behind the ingredients. I am sure that vegan customers in Monaco would love this. Unfortunately, for the moment the restaurants do not do much to entice vegan people to their tables.

Nathalie is a strong role model who has never been afraid of the challenges in life, especially when it is about raising positive awareness for deeper problems. 

Therefore, we wish all the success for her International Compliance Conference dedicated to the fight against Human Trafficking, Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing and their relation to the financial world event in 2024.

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