The same old, tired old objections

I get a monthly magazine called “Business Brief”, which concerns business matters in the Channel Islands.  A regular columnist has this month devoted his page to an oh-so-familiar diatribe against money laundering checks.  You can read it for yourself by going to this website (, clicking on the vertical bar to read the current (July) issue of the magazine online, and then turning to page 60.  The article is entitled “Rules is rules, however stupid” – which gives you the flavour of the piece.

In short, the writer is annoyed because he went to his local foreign exchange bureau and was asked to provide proof of his identity.  Now, foreign exchange is covered by AML legislation in Jersey, as it is in most jurisdictions, and so the bureau staff were doing exactly what they were supposed to do.  He is then further incensed when he tries to cash in his Co-op stamps and again is asked for ID.

I cannot tell you how many times I have been collared at dinner parties by people who want to vent their frustration at having been asked for ID documents when performing a financial transaction – the inconvenience! the cheek of suggesting that they are criminal!  And yet these very same people would be the first to turn on a financial institution if it turned out that the place had neglected to conduct due diligence and so allowed criminals into the financial system.  As this writer says, “it’s not like burglars in the comics of my youth who always wore a striped sweater and carried a large sack marked ‘swag'” – and it is precisely because of this that AML checks must be done on everyone.  Even journalists from Jersey.

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