Ambassador Michael Skol is a leading expert in U.S. diplomatic relations and international business practices. He is a pioneer in the growing fields of anti-corruption and financial compliance services and training, and active as an advisor to governments, multi-national institutions and private firms.
Since 1996 he has engaged in ethics, governance, and counter-money laundering work for governments and private companies, primarily in the Western Hemisphere. For most pro-jects, the ambassador operates in consortium with Carlos Mario Serna of Bogotá (Colom-bia).
The 'Skol & Serna' consortium has become a recognized hemispheric leader in counter-money laundering training and firewall services for banks, government regulators and pri-vate companies. Counter-money laundering due diligence and system development ser-vices include the latest international risk management-based standards. ‘Skol & Serna’ has had joint venture agreements with the United Nations Office of Drugs & Crime (UNODC), the Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA), and the University of Salamanca (Spain) for compliance training of Latin American professionals, including a certification program in counter-money laundering/anti-terrorist financing risk management.
Before entering the private sector in 1996, the ambassador completed a distinguished ca-reer of more than 30 years in the U.S. Foreign Service in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as in Southeast Asia and Europe.
Ambassador Skol was Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs from 1993 to 1996. In that position, he was Washington's premier 'trouble-shooter' for crises in a number of Latin American countries, including Colombia and Paraguay. He negotiated the agreement with Cuba which ended the 1994 Castro-induced exodus of thousands of Cubans in rafts towards the U.S., and led the U.S. effort toward mediating the disputed Dominican presidential election that same year. He took a major role during this period in inter-agency deliberations on Latin American drug policy, a process which later led to the very successful 'Plan Colombia'. Ambassador Skol also developed, in coopera-tion with a group of hemispheric presidents and cabinet ministers, the "No to Corruption" initiative agreed to at the December 1994 Summit of the Americas in Miami, an interna-tional agreement which led directly to the Inter-American Anti-Corruption Treaty two years later.
From 1990 to 1993 Ambassador Skol was United States Ambassador to Venezuela, where he was credited with successful efforts in defense of Venezuelan democracy, on behalf of American exporters and investors and in support of opening the oil industry to direct foreign participation.
From 1988 to 1990 he was Deputy Assistant Secretary for South America, where he played a key role in the Chilean transition to democracy and in the development of the U.S. Andean drug and counter-guerrilla policy. Other Foreign Service postings were Buenos Aires, Saigon, Santo Domingo, Naples, Rome, San Jose and Bogotá. Honors from foreign governments include Venezuela's Order of the Liberator and Paraguay's Order of National Merit.
Ambassador Skol is a frequent conference speaker and has appeared as an expert com-mentator on U.S. network radio and television, as well as on the Voice of America, the BBC, the Australian Broadcasting Company, TV and radio stations in South America, and the online FREE VENEZUELA. He has testified before Congressional committees on themes ranging from communications security to contraband money laundering. His arti-cles have appeared in publications from Bogotá’s EL TIEMPO and THE MIAMI HERALD to ARCHIVOS DEL PRESENTE, the Argentine journal of foreign affairs, and the DIARIO LAS AMERICAS. Ambassador Skol was also the co-creator and original co-host of the weekly CNN-Spanish Television Network talk show, "Choque de Opiniones."
The Ambassador is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was the founding chairman of the U.S.-Colombia Business Partnership, created in 1996 by the major Ameri-can companies doing business in Colombia. He has also served on the Editorial Advisory Board of LATIN TRADE Magazine.
Ambassador Skol is a graduate of Yale University.