While casting around for an idea for this final blog post before Christmas (as you know, money laundering is something of a passion of mine, but even I have to admit that it’s not what you would call festive…), I came across an advert for a Santa in Indianapolis. This gentlemen makes his living appearing as Santa at parties, shows, conferences and ceremonies. He does not claim to be the real Santa – he is a Professional Santa. And I just love how professional he is. He went to Santa School. He constantly upgrades his “Santa suit and accessories”. And (true dedication, this) as he is now retired he has let his beard and hair grow to “a full long Santa length”. The words that caught my eye in his ad were “due diligence”: “It is unfortunate, but in today’s society, it is important that you do your due diligence in making sure that your Santa is safe to be around your children and/or guests. I provide you with a copy of my background check from IntelliCorp Records that I must obtain to purchase my entertainer’s insurance.”
As for doing your own due diligence on the man in red, you might like to consider some rather worrying facts. For a start, he uses several aliases, which he changes according to local preference: Saint Nicholas, Father Christmas, Santa Claus, Kris Kringle and Papa Noel are among those most frequently employed. His place and date of birth are fiendishly difficult to establish, let alone verify – modern representations suggest that he is from northern Europe, but earlier images show him to be of Middle Eastern origin, and he is centuries old, if not millennia, so the reliability of his own memory might be in question (although his record-keeping of the behaviour of the world’s children seems to be exemplary). His PEP status is uncertain: can his influence be considered political, or merely social? He certainly mingles at the highest levels, as this article proves. His usual garb features a very obvious and elaborate white collar. He is an employer of note, providing seasonal employment to individuals from a specific ethnic minority – which rings some alarm bells about discriminatory practices. Rumours are that the working hours for his staff in December in particular are very long, and almost certainly in contradiction of modern legislation.
Which of course brings us to the greatest concern of all: source of funds and source of wealth. At a modest estimate, there are 1.9 billion children in the world, and Santa claims to deliver a present to each of them. Even allowing for a small proportion of those children being too naughty to deserve a present, and even if many of the presents are home-made, there is still a great deal being spent on toys. And yet Santa’s usual form of recompense is a glass of sherry and a mince pie. I just hope the world’s FIUs are ready for the inflow of SARs on Boxing Day.
I am taking a little festive break, and will post next on 5 January 2015. Merry Christmas, one and all!