As you may know, I have a “Stop Press” page on my website (www.thinkingaboutcrime.com). This is where I write up stories of money laundering relevance – usually tales of wicked money launderers, and news of significant legal developments. When deciding whether to include a story about a launderer, I try to observe a simple rule of thumb: has anyone been charged (good), convicted (better) or sentenced (best)? In other words, I try to make sure that I don’t have to use the word “allegedly” too frequently. I watch the story develop, and make a judgement about when to feature it on the website.
This can take a Herculean effort of self-control. At the moment, there is a massive bust going on in Miami and Spain, with the police levering up floorboards to find huge stashes of cash, and uber-luxury cars and properties being seized. But even Sky News has to admit that “all those held are accused of money laundering and drug trafficking” – not charged, convicted or sentenced. And so I track it breathlessly, making notes in my diary to “check Spanish druggies”. (Heaven help me if anyone ever finds and reads my diary.) As soon as anyone is formally charged, I’ll write it up – but until then we have to consider that they might be perfectly lovely chaps who just prefer to keep cash at home. Under the floorboards.