Really clean, or just nearly clean?

Over the past few nights I’ve been watching a television mini-series called “The Kennedys”.  There was a hoo-hah before it was broadcast in America, with doubts expressed about its historical accuracy, and indeed it was shown first in Canada – where perhaps there is more appetite for a bit of mud-slinging at the quasi-Royal Family of the USA.  I was glad to see that they show JFK’s drug addiction, and allude to his, well, rampant sexual appetites, but disappointed – although not surprised – to see no reference at all to the original source of the Kennedy wealth.

To be clear, I am not saying that the Kennedy money came from crime.  Papa Joe was certainly a smart operator, and sailed pretty close to the wind on almost every occasion, but the evidence of actual criminality is circumstantial.  (In 1973 mob boss Frank Costello said that he and Kennedy had been bootlegging partners, while other underworld figures have also claimed that Joe was in cahoots with them.)  It may just be that he was a past master at taking advantage of a situation.

However, the Kennedy situation does raise a troubling question: is it actually possible to launder money?  (It sticks in my craw to ask it, but there you go.)  Can the proceeds of a crime filter through so many generations and so much legitimate activity that eventually they are, to all intents and purposes, clean money?

This entry was posted in General thoughts, Money laundering, Organised crime and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Really clean, or just nearly clean?

  1. Paul Coleman says:

    An interesting insight and one which I have never really considered in the AML training I deliver within my organisation. Discussing the integration stage as the final piece in the money laundering cycle tneds to give the impression that the criminal is in the clear. No! (as a result of the posting) it is now clear in my mind that it only has the appearance of being clean – once dirty always dirty is the way it shoud be described.

  2. Hello Paul
    Sorry for the slow reply. I agree with you that the term “integration” suggests that the money is now normal again, part of acceptable financial life. As you say: once dirty, always dirty – and spreading filth as it goes, as everyone who touches it is contaminated. Well, I did say I hate money laundering!

  3. Paul Coleman says:

    Thanks – greatful for you taking the time to respond. I continue to follow your thoughts with interest.

  4. Philip says:

    I am sure if you got some lawyers and economists together you could have a long and meaningful debate on this subject. This issue is not dissimilar to “is a PEP always a PEP?”. I believe that it is possible to regularise money over a period of time, for example if the statute of limitations kicks in and it is no longer possible to prosecute someone for an historic act then you cannot convict them and as such there assets never legally become the proceeds of crime.

  5. Philip says:

    I would just like to add that although I believe it is possible to regularise money overtime, I do not agree with it.

    • When I do my training, I often tell people that as far as I am concerned, the money is always dirty and should always be reported. If law enforcement then decides not to pursue the case (perhaps, as you mention, because of a statute of limitations), that is their decision – but the reporting institution cannot be held responsible. It’s not a case of covering your backside – it’s just a simpler mantra to drum into staff: once dirty, always dirty – and report!

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