Q&A with Roger Matthews

Roger Matthews is a senior director at Dechert.

Roger Matthews1. What was your first job?

At 18, I worked in the bar in an Austrian ski hotel.

2. Career highlight?

Representing the EU at meetings of the Kimberley Process; a fascinating insight into the rough diamond trade, and the differing dynamics of the countries represented.

3. If you hadn't become a solicitor, what would you have done?

Like many solicitors, I have no idea.

4. 19 May – watching the Cup final or the Royal Wedding?

I have no plans to watch either, but I suspect somehow I’ll end up watching at least part of the wedding.

5. How do you relax?

I love going camping, but in the meantime, playing tennis (badly).

6. What's your pet hate?

Bad grammar, and work jargon.

7. Favourite city?

Prague.

8. What book is on your bedside table?

Fall out by Tim Shipman – I generally prefer reading novels, but somehow find the whole Brexit politics strangely addictive!

9. Favourite TV box set?

A tie between Yes Minister and Game of Thrones!

10. Seaside or mountains?

Mountains, but living in London either would be nice!

11. What are the main issues for sanctions practitioners?

There are many issues that arise regularly, but I would pick out these three as among the top priorities: 

  • We need OFSI to be willing to offer clarifications to uncertainties where they arise – OFAC’s FAQs may not be the perfect model, but they are one way of achieving this. 
  • Clarification is needed as to the jurisdictional reach of sanctions – there are some indications that the UK is taking a more expansive approach to the reach of UK sanctions than previously, which is fine but it must be clear. Similarly, the US secondary sanctions recently announced are highly ambiguous in reach.
  • Some clarification is needed as to what level of due diligence is expected by firms. The fact that it is so difficult for a firm to be sure that its due diligence will be accepted by OFSI as sufficient causes businesses real problems.

12. Why did you want to join the Money Laundering Task Force (MLTF)?

I have been very aware over the years that there is not enough communication between those who develop, draft and regulate sanctions laws on the one hand, and those who must comply with them on the other. There is a real need for such communication on an ongoing basis. The MLTF offers a valuable opportunity to be part of improving this communication.