Waiting on the outside

I have been doing some research into SCPOs.  No, not the gold chap from “Star Wars” – I mean Serious Crime Prevention Orders.  Once a convicted criminal has served his time in prison, it is often wise not only to keep an eye on him via the probation system, but also to put restrictions on his future activity in order to remind him of the foolishness of taking up where he left off.  To this end, the UK law enforcement has a programme of “lifetime management of serious and organised criminals”.  And part of that programme includes, when considered necessary, applying to the courts for offenders to be handed Serious Crime Prevention Orders, Financial Reporting Orders and Travel Restriction Orders – all examples of ancillary orders, as they are extra to the main sentence.  For those of you interested in criminology, the purpose of these three orders is purely preventive – they are not viewed as punitive (although those subject to them might disagree).

Those of you committed to the fight against financial crime – including the biggest baddie of all, money laundering (boo hiss!) – will be pleased to hear that SCPOs and FROs are targeted specifically at our enemies.  SCPOs can be applied to individuals and bodies corporate convicted of a “serious offence” (including drug trafficking, slavery, human trafficking, money laundering, fraud, tax offences, bribery, blackmail and organised crime) and can place prohibitions or restrictions on the subject’s financial, property or business dealings, working arrangements, association and communication with others, premises to be used, use of any item, and travel within UK and abroad.  An SCPO can last for up to five years.  FROs do exactly what you might imagine: those convicted of financial crimes (such as fraud, theft, money laundering, bribery and tax evasion) can be compelled to “make a report” of specified financial information for the duration of the order – perhaps a monthly report of all their financial activity.  In the most serious cases – for those sentenced to life imprisonment – a FRO can last for twenty years.  TROs are the most limited of the trio, in that they can be issued only following a conviction for a drug trafficking offence with a term of imprisonment of four years or more; the effect of a TRO is to restrict the travel of the offender for at least two years after release.

So why should MLROs care about SCPOs, FROs and TROs?  In short, it is handy to know whether one of your clients is actually subject to one which seeks to curtail his financial life, so that you can be sure you’re not unwittingly helping him to evade those restrictions.  It sounds like a hassle, but – although I love these orders and the balance they restore to the world (if someone commits a financial crime, you make their financial life more awkward) – there are not that many in operation at any one time.  In fact, if you have an idle moment with your elevenses, why not take a look at the current list?  That’s right: it’s all public and very easy to understand: it tells you who has an order against them, when it started and when it finishes, and what sort of restrictions it places on them.  If it says “dormant” rather than “live”, that means the order is poised, ready to come into force once the subject is released from prison.  Do you think it turns up at the prison gate in a battered old Mercedes wearing a tatty fur coat and clutching a bottle of cheap champagne – or have I been watching too many episodes of “Minder”?

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Free for all

If I were sitting in a mountain-top lair, twirling my moustaches and cackling evilly, I don’t think I could devise an environment more conducive to financial crime than the UK in late 2020.  Put to one side the spinelessness of our government as its leaders line their pockets, promote their friends and ennoble their backers.  Ignore if you will the incredulous reactions of other jurisdictions as we berate them for lack of transparency while we hobble our own beneficial ownership register.  No, the topic which has given me today’s leg-up onto my high horse is freeports.

It may surprise you to learn that I am a financial simpleton.  I work, I earn money, I fill in a tax return and I pay what I’m told to pay.  My most thrilling financial adventure of recent months was buying some premium bonds.  As a consequence, I tend to go back to basics when confronted with a financial innovation.  If someone suggests to me, for instance, carving off a bit of land from a country and giving it a different financial status so that people can move stuff through that bit of land without having to comply with the law of the land to which it is attached and belongs and is governed by for all other purposes, I wonder what’s up.  Sure, I can see the benefits for the importers and exporters – they’ll make more money.  And they’ll like the government of the country which has carved out this special bit of land for giving them that extra money for doing nothing at all.  There’ll be a few jobs in the carved-off bit, but how does it help the country beyond that?  Not at all. On the contrary, I think it makes it appear suspicious in the eyes of countries that have not carved off bits of themselves and pretended that they are somehow different and exempt.

But my opinion is neither here nor there.  What matters is the opinions and plans of those in charge.  And recently HMG has announced its plans to “turbo-charge post-Brexit trade” through the introduction of ten freeports, some of them to be open for business by the end of 2021.  This response marks the end of the consultation process, with the next step being the launch of the bidding process for potential freeports to apply for this status.  It’s full steam ahead, apparently, with “a package of tax reliefs on investment by businesses within Freeport tax sites [and] new measures to speed up planning processes to accelerate development in and around Freeports”.  As for concerns about “illicit activity”, apparently there was a mixed response in the consultation: “A majority of non-governmental organisations believed the risk of illicit activity in Freeports was high or very high.  However, some respondents, notably port operators, felt that the risk of illicit activity was low or very low.”  Well, colour me surprised.

And the government response?  “The government can confirm that: (a) Freeports will have to adhere to the OECD Code of Conduct for Clean Free Trade Zones, (b) They will maintain the current obligations set out in the January 2020 Amendment to the UK’s Money Laundering Regulations 2017, and (c) As part of the authorisation process, checks will be conducted on Freeport operators and businesses operating to ensure they do not present an undue risk and that Freeport operators have adequate policies in place to ensure control over the movement of goods.”

Marvellous, sings my little AML-ish heart: the Regs will apply. But always best to check the detail, and it turns out that the reference to freeports in the amended Regs applies only to the operator of a freeport when it “stores works of art in the freeport and the value of the works of art so stored for a person, or a series of linked persons, amounts to 10,000 euros or more”. And the plan is not to limit freeport activities to artworks: the consultation document mentions fuel, alcohol, tobacco – and, in the stirring introduction, wines and olive oil.  Reference is also made of “raw materials” and “hotbeds for innovation” – neither of which sounds very arty to me. In other words, there will be the lightest of light touch regulation – yet another item to be ticked on the money launderer’s shopping list when scouting for welcoming jurisdictions.

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The word from on high

Right, let’s get ready for a quick test of AML TLA [three-letter acronym]: what do the RBA, BRA, RAS and NRA all have in common?  Bravo for shouting out “the letter R” – standing, of course, for Risk.  As in: risk-based approach, business risk assessment, risk appetite statement and – the grand-daddy of them all – national risk assessment.  Those of you who are avid subscribers to Money Laundering Bulletin will already have spotted my take on the subject of the NRA a couple of months ago.  In short, the NRA is a government’s take on its own jurisdiction’s vulnerabilities to money laundering and terrorist financing, and on the effectiveness of the measures that have been put in place to guard against those vulnerabilities.

Interestingly, although many jurisdictions put into their AML legislation something along the lines of “businesses must put in place AML/CFT policies, procedures and controls that are appropriate and proportionate, taking into account the national risk assessment”, it is often the NRA that is the last thing to be completed.  Although we have had a risk-based approach to AML since the Third Money Laundering Directive (that’s 2005,when Charles married Camilla and Hurricane Katrina hit the US), NRAs have been very tardy: the first one in the UK appeared in 2015, Guernsey’s first one hit the news-stands in January 2020, and Jersey’s arrived on 30 September 2020 (and that was only the money laundering bit of it – the terrorist financing half is due next year).  The poor old FATF has been doing everything possible to prod governments into action: they issued an initial helpful strategy document in 2008, then new guidance in 2013, then an encouraging “here’s the benefits of an NRA” document in 2016, and have now published a webpage of links to NRAs, pour encourager les autres.

Despite this embarrassment of NRA guidance riches, the end products are remarkably dissimilar.  I know size shouldn’t matter, but why – when a jurisdiction the size and complexity of the UK can explain its money laundering and terrorist financing NRA in 91 pages, and Guernsey can manage with 111 – does it take Jersey 242 pages to cover just its money laundering concerns?  I’ll be blunt here: having done my best to read it, I think the Jersey NRA is designed not so much to enlighten as to beat into submission.  If the purpose is to provide the MLRO with a clear and digestible picture of the situation in his jurisdiction, then some NRAs are much more effective than others.

Meanwhile, we wait with bated breath for the latest UK NRA: we had one in October 2015 and then October 2017, but October 2019 came and went with no comment, then someone suggested it might put in an appearance in July 2020.  The latest buzz is from HMT, which said in August 2020 in its “AML/CFT: Supervision report 2018-19” that “the 2020 NRA, to be published later this year, will serve as a stocktake of our understanding of these risks, including how they have changed since the 2017 NRA”.  I’m hopeful; it’s not as if Treasury staff have much else to occupy them in the dying months of 2020.

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Ethics girls and boys

With the recent headlines concerning Mr Trump’s tax arrangements and Mr Johnson’s awarding of government contracts to chums, you can imagine that the issue of morality has been much on my mind.  I come from mixed stock: one half of my family was capitalist to the core while the other half spent most of their time on good works and community projects.  No, my parents’ marriage did not last long.  And now I find myself something of a moral mongrel: I make my living in the financial sector, but from telling them how to be law-abiding, altruistic citizens.  But again and again I wonder how we can make AML (and other issues, of course, but everything else is way less interesting) something that people want to do rather than something they have to do.

In an article earlier this month in the Economist, columnist Bartleby made some helpful observations about cheating, fraud and other morally suspect behaviour within organisations:

  • “Individuals are not very good at assessing the purity of their own motivations” – on the other hand, we are pretty expert at what are known in our household (thanks to an enduring obsession with the movie “The Big Chill”) as “juicy rationalisations”, whereby we are remarkably creative when presenting our own decisions and actions as morally defensible
  • Within companies, “a culture of cheating can spread quickly” – or, as we like to say in the worlds of corporate governance and AML, it’s all about “tone from the top”
  • “Individuals are more likely to lie, or commit fraud, when they are set excessively difficult and specific goals” – now, I have long railed against the bonus culture, where a proportion (sometimes a significant proportion) of people’s pay is based on performance. In the sales side of finance, this can (I believe) lead to people taking on business that they would otherwise reject, in order to “make the target”.  Moreover, as Bartleby puts it so well in reporting the findings of a 2015 study by academics at Columbia and Harvard business schools, “under pressure, people do not efficiently analyse information that could otherwise keep them on the straight and narrow”.

Now I don’t often resort to capital letters to make a point but today I shall: we need to GIVE PEOPLE TIME AND SPACE TO BE ETHICAL.  One tactic suggested by those academics would work well in the AML environment: if you signal clearly that ethical issues may arise, people are more likely to take them into account when making decisions.  So perhaps a little reminder about your corporate ethics code of conduct at the top of your take-on/onboarding paperwork will pay dividends – apparently even just mentioning the word “ethics” has a positive effect.  Ethics!  (Has it worked?)

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Latest leak lessons

This is a tricky time to write a blog post, as everywhere is swirling with stories from the “FinCEN Files”.  I have explored the leaks on the ICIJ website, read the reputable (and disreputable) press sources and watched the “Panorama” programme on the BBC (“Banking Secrets of the Rich and Powerful”).  I shall leave the dissection of the details to them, but a few things have struck me.

First, I am disappointed at how the SAR process is being, well, misrepresented.  I am always delighted when money laundering hits the headlines (if a little embarrassed that the UK is always, but always, involved) because it tells the general public about what we AMLers do, and why we ask for identity documents, and why we might be concerned about that large payment they are making to a lovely chap they have been chatting with in Afghanistan or Nigeria or China.  But sometimes the educational opportunity is squandered with inaccurate or incomplete information.  For instance, the BBC newsreader, breaking the story on the late-night news on Sunday, said: “SARs are how banks can report their wealthiest clients if they do anything suspicious.”  This makes it sound as though SARs are for PEP/rich people only – not for all clients.  And it seemingly restricts the system to banks.

Then on Monday morning I opened my Economist Espresso update [I can’t stomach full news first thing in the day – this little digest is all I can tolerate] and read this: “SARs are to be filed to the American government when a bank suspects a client’s assets have been acquired nefariously.  They also indemnify the banks from taking further action – thus allowing them to move trillions of dollars in suspicious transactions, which facilitates money-laundering.”  For now, I shall put to one side my ongoing battle with the Economist about the hyphen that they insist on putting in “money-laundering”.  But SARs do not indemnify anyone – unless this is an American flavour of the system…?  (I don’t work in the US so have only a passing acquaintance with the niceties of their AML legislation, such as it is.)  In the UK, making a SAR is far from a “get out of jail free, well done for spotting that and now you can launder to your heart’s content” card: it may provide you with a defence to a charge of failing to disclose, but as for indemnifying the reporting institution so that it can carry on without doing anything else about that dodgy money, well, that’s not my view of how it works.  I’d be grateful for any clarification re US or UK “indemnification”.  And none of the sources so far has mentioned that SARs must also be submitted by lawyers, accountants, TCSPs, etc. – they make it sound as though all the responsibility lies with the banking sector.

The “Panorama” programme contains the usual mix of “can you believe it?” and “we told you so” stories.  Diligent MLROs will already be well aware of the dangers of using “box-ticking, lawyer-ish reasons why they haven’t done anything wrong” (Edward Lucas of the Center for European Policy Analysis).  But one lesson they could take from the programme is that of Christopher Harborne aka Chakrit Sakunkrit.  Mr Harborne holds a British passport in that name, and a Thai one as Mr Sakunkrit.  (Which means that any financial institution he uses which is unaware of his dual identity cannot be certain that they have the full picture when it comes to exposure to their client.)  In recent years, thanks to the explosion in golden visas and passports for investment, I have been advising MLROs to ensure that their CDD procedures include the question: “Is this your only nationality?”  It seems that we should then ask a follow-up/variant question: “Do you hold a nationality in any other name?”  Or perhaps just go for it, Senator McCarthy-style: “Are you now, or have you ever been, a money launderer?”

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Sixth sense

Right, here’s a little quiz for you: as of today, it’s 78 days until what?  Points deducted if you simply say, “Thursday 3 December” – although points added if you know that that’s my mother-in-law’s birthday [note to self: remind husband].  In all the excitement about MLD5 and Brexit and the thrill of breaking international legislation (oh, plus a pandemic – and please can we stop calling it a “global pandemic” because pandemos already means everybody…), we have clean forgotten to get worked up about MLD6.  And MLD6 requires that “Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 3 December 2020”.

As you doubtless remember from the giddy days of October 2018 when MLD6 came into being, this is a slightly different MLD to the usual ones: most of the others have dealt primarily with AML concerns – who is in the AML family, what CDD they need to do, what the risk-based approach means, who should be considered a PEP, and so on.  But MLD6 is all about the crime itself: what exactly is money laundering, who can be punished (and how much) for doing it, and what to do about that pesky dual criminality.  And yes, you’re right: these are Big Topics.  Which have been entirely overshadowed by MBILP*.  And no self-respecting MLRO can go a moment longer without putting MLD6 firmly back on the radar – remember, it’s only 78 days away.

I can’t possibly go into all the detail here, but (a) MLD6 is only sixteen short Articles so doesn’t take long to read in full, and (b) oh, go on then, here are the highlights:

  • Article 2 provides a harmonised list of the 22 offences that are considered to be criminal activity [i.e. a predicate offence that can lead to money laundering] – a Member State can add more, but this is the minimum, and the list includes trafficking in almost anything, environmental crime, tax crimes and cybercrime
  • Article 4 confirms that “aiding and abetting, inciting and attempting” money laundering are also criminal offences
  • Article 6 talks about aggravating circumstances [no, not being a liberal Englishwoman alive in 2020, although that is pretty aggravating], including being a member of an organised crime group, or being an “obliged entity” (i.e. a business covered by AML obligations) and still indulging in money laundering, bringing us to…
  • Article 7, which drops the bombshell that “legal persons can be held liable for any of the [money laundering] offences”, and
  • Article 10 introduces information-sharing requirements between jurisdictions so that a criminal prosecution for connected offences can take place in more than one EU Member State.

Yes, it’s quite the directive.  As for what the UK is doing about it, your guess is as good as mine (and almost certainly contains fewer swear-words).

* MLD5, Brexit, international legislation and pandemic

Thanks to James in Cornwall for reminding me to get my dander up about how MLD6 has been overlooked

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AML for the autodidact

I’m a big fan of surveys and reports: give me a sniff of a group of compliance types being asked for their take on AML, and I’m there with my hand in the air, begging for the results, like the girlie swot I am.  So when LexisNexis recently published “What Keeps AML and CFT Professionals Awake at Night?”, I downloaded like a demon.  Turns out it’s not – as it so often is for me – trying to figure out why all the women in “Mad Men” love Don Draper when he’s so obviously a cad marinated in Brylcreem, but rather matters more professional in nature.

[A tangential observation, if you’ll permit.  When people ask what I do, I struggle to find the right words.  “AML consultant” is a bit watery, while “AML expert” is boastful.  But the foreword to this report is written by someone described as a “financial services regtech pioneer and expert”.  Now there’s someone not unduly troubled by pesky modesty.]

Anyway, I’ll leave you to read the report yourself, as everyone will take something different from it.  For my part, you’ll not be surprised to hear, I was particularly interested in what the “300 financial crime compliance professionals from a variety of different types and sizes of financial institutions across the UK & Ireland, including banks, asset management firms, fintech and challengers” had to say about staff [AML] training.  And here it is:

  • 77% of respondents “have a formal training process in place to keep staff updated on new criminal methodologies”
  • 72% of respondents expect that staff will seek external training
  • “Half of banks also expect their staff to independently seek external training to supplement their understanding of emerging financial crime methodologies, resulting in inconsistency across the sector”.

In theory, this expectation for staff to seek external training should be positive (knowledge = good, more knowledge = better), but unfortunately I see several problems.  For a start, regulatory expectation across all sectors is that AML training should be tailored specifically to the business and to the job role of the trainee – and any training that a member of staff sources independently is very unlikely to achieve this.  Then if staff are left to their own devices to research “new criminal methodologies”, who knows what rabid, prejudiced or plain wrong accounts they will read, with click-bait and spam lying in wait.  And just how does this DIY, pick-and-mix approach to learning fit with the risk-based approach for the firm, where decisions about who is taught what is supposed to be decided in a cool-headed manner against a background of risk assessment?

Of course, I imagine that most firms will provide in-house training and hope that staff will then augment that (rather than replacing it) with their own reading and learning.  But – back to the survey report – the numbers suggest that there are still plenty of firms (23% of respondents) with no formal training process for keeping their staff abreast of “new criminal methodologies”.  Surely the least a financial sector employee can expect is to be given the information he needs to be able to do his job to the correct legal standard.  Thank heavens for the “training defence” (e.g. section 330(7)(b) of the UK’s Proceeds of Crime Act 2002) – you might need it.

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Osh Ghosh begone

I have had no legal training, but on the plus side I have a high boredom threshold and I love reading – both of which are, I believe, essential for lawyers.  This means that I can generally work my way doggedly through any piece of legislation.  I remember that the first one to give me real pause for thought – and several lovely lawyers did try to explain it to me – was the Mareva injunction.  (That’s a freezing injunction, for those of you too young to remember the original “Crackerjack”.)  But my legal understanding has been rocked to its shaky foundations by a recent ruling by the (UK) Court of Appeal that for nearly four decades we have been using the wrong test to decide whether someone has acted dishonestly.

Dishonesty is one of those peculiar concepts: you feel that everyone should know what it means, and everyone probably does on an instinctive level – but courts cannot act on instinct and so a way has to be found to define what is almost too obvious to be defined.  For years, I have been applying – in my AML capacity, and also as a magistrate here in the UK – what is cheerfully called the Ghosh test of honesty.  It is named in honour of Dr Deb Baran Ghosh, a surgeon who defrauded the NHS.  He appealed his guilty verdict in 1982 on the grounds that the trial judge had instructed the jury to use their common sense to determine whether Dr Ghosh’s conduct had been dishonest or not.  His defence team argued that the judge should have instructed the jury that dishonesty was about the accused’s state of mind (a subjective test) rather than the jury’s point of view (an objective test).  From this was derived the Ghosh test of dishonesty, which features what lawyers like to call two “limbs”:

  • First you have to decide whether what the defendant did was dishonest according to the ordinary standards of reasonable and honest people (which is an objective test) – if not, that’s an end to it.
  • But if the answer is yes, then you have to decide whether the defendant realised that reasonable and honest people would regard what he did as dishonest – so it’s not a matter of what he personally thought, but whether he realised what ordinary and reasonable people think.

(So if you organise a collection in the office to buy someone a wedding present and instead spend it on a slap-up lunch for yourself, the jury would be asked if ordinary people regarded that to be dishonest, and if so, did you know that ordinary people thought that way.)

Does your head hurt yet?  Congratulations if you’ve just about grasped the Ghosh test… but it turns out that we’ve been doing it wrong for 38 years, because in R v Barton and Booth 2020, the Court of Appeal decided that the correct test of dishonesty is not Ghosh, but Ivey – specifically, Ivey v Genting Casinos (UK) 2017.  And now we have a different pair of two limbs:

  • First you have to decide what the defendant knew or genuinely believed the facts to be – which is a subjective test (never mind whether we would have thought the same – what did he believe the facts to be?).
  • And then you have to consider whether, if ordinary decent people knew or believed those facts, would they consider what the defendant did was dishonest?

(So the greedy office collector might say that he thought his colleagues would be thrilled to see him having a lovely lunch rather than wasting the money on a fondue pot, and the jury would have to decide whether he really thought that.)

The key change seems to me – and again, I’ve had NO LEGAL TRAINING – to be that the defendant’s state of mind is the primary issue to be considered, rather than the attitudes/beliefs/prejudices/hopes/dreams of Ghosh’s “reasonable and honest people” or Ivey’s “ordinary decent people”.  And what difference will this make?  Well, I’ve spent the morning reading various papers written by barristers, law schools and other legal experts and they all agree: only time will tell.  At least they’re honest.

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Is that why it’s called a PEP rally?

I am of An Age where every working surface in our house has been equipped with a cheap pair of reading glasses – who knows when I will need to read that care label, cooking instruction or baffling piece of American guidance?  But even wearing my very best pair of specs, polished robustly, and with the font size turned up loud, I am still questioning what I am reading.

On 21 August 2020, FinCEN – the American FIU – issued a “Joint Statement on Bank Secrecy Act Due Diligence Requirements for Customers Who May Be Considered Politically Exposed Persons”.  (The other parties involved are all the big hitters: the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; the National Credit Union Administration; and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.)  US banks have asked for clarification on “how to apply a risk-based approach to PEPs consistent with the CDD requirements contained in FinCEN’s 2016 CDD Final Rule” – which seems a bit late in the day to me, but hey-ho.  And three points in the clarification have me reading and re-reading in case it’s one of those situations where I have missed a crucial word, such as “not” or “must” (or “federal incarceration”).

The first is this: “The Agencies do not interpret the term ‘politically exposed persons’ to include US public officials.”  Out of step with the rest of the world, the US definition of PEP is still outward-looking only.  (Further reading reveals that there is the definition of the “senior foreign political figure” contained in the section of the Bank Secrecy Act that refers to private banking – but this is a niche concept, and only private banking services are required to take any notice of it.)

The second head-shaker is this: “BSA[Bank Secrecy Act]/AML regulations do not define PEPs, but the term is commonly used in the financial industry to refer to foreign individuals who are or have been entrusted with a prominent public function, as well as their immediate family members and close associates.”  Why on earth do those regulations not define PEPs?  Everyone else does – FATF, Basel, EU – so why not the US?

And now for the real WT* moment: “There is no regulatory requirement in the CDD rule, nor is there a supervisory expectation, for banks to have unique, additional due diligence steps for PEPs.  The CDD rule also does not require a bank to screen for or otherwise determine whether a customer or beneficial owner of a legal entity customer may be considered a PEP.  A bank may choose to determine whether a customer is a PEP at account opening, if the bank determines the information is necessary for the development of a customer risk profile.  Further, the bank may conduct periodic reviews with respect to PEPs, as part of or in addition to the required ongoing risk-based monitoring to maintain and update customer information.”

Like, dude, seriously?  Are US banks really not required even to ask the PEP question unless they fancy doing so?  Or is it my glasses?

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Happy holidays!

Well hello everyone – I’m back.  And while I was away on my hols, I did wonder whether taking time off in the summer was the responsible thing to do.  As long ago as 1831, astronomer and statistician Adolphe Quetelet took advantage of the new French habit of publishing annual crime statistics (they started in 1827) to observe that crime rates are not constant through the year but instead vary by season.  He refined his understanding in his 1831 book “The Propensity to Crime”, in which he described a “thermic law” of crime: in short, crimes against the person peak during summer months and crimes against property peak during winter months.  In 1911 Cesare Lombroso – sometimes called the “father of criminology”, and much given to reading people’s faces and skulls to detect criminal tendencies – came to the same conclusion, observing that rapes were much more common in warm weather.  (Interesting fact, for your next Italian holiday: in his will, Lombroso requested that his head be preserved after death so that it could be measured according to his own theories, and it is still displayed, pickled in a jar, at the Museum of Psychiatry and Criminology in Turin.  Go on: the kids will love it!)

Finding seasonal patterns in white collar crime is harder – perhaps because it is often perpetrated from a desk, and in our centrally heated and air-conditioned times, criminals can be comfortable all year round.  However, there are frauds that happen at certain times of year.  Big festivals – Christmas, Chinese New Year, Eid – are usually associated with big spending on food and gifts, and this offers increased opportunities for online scams, theft of credit card details and general scumbaggery.  Festivals that require heading “home for the holidays” will put travel fraudsters on alert, setting up websites to sell fake tickets and skim identity and payment details.  And once you’re on the move, hackers are on standby for when you just can’t resist using that free wifi on the train or plugging into that complimentary phone-charging point at the airport.

From an AML perspective, perhaps our biggest seasonal concern is everyone going on holiday at once.  If the office is actually closed, that’s less risky: there’s no business being done, so there’s no worry about reduced or accelerated AML checks.  But if the office is open but half the staff have already gone on leave while the other half are watching funny video clips on Youtube and mainlining the Christmas candy, well, that’s a money launderer’s best possible present.

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