Way back in the mists of time, I attended (yes, attended rather than presented) my first-ever anti-money laundering training session. I was wide-eyed with wonder, bitten by the AML bug on my first exposure, and listened spellbound to all that was said. “Actually, the first money launderers were the Crusaders,” said the speaker, and I dutifully noted it down. I have even repeated this tidbit of information on a few occasions – although you’d be surprised how infrequently skirmishes over the Holy Land in the eleventh and twelfth centuries come up in conversation these days.
Recently I was trying to write an article about the early history of money laundering, and as I was about to commit to paper this slur against Richard the Lionheart and his cronies, I thought I had better check my facts. And do you know, I couldn’t find any mention of it anywhere. I am a pretty nifty Googler, adept at rooting out even cached references, but there was nothing. (I never self-Google, by the way – not through any false modesty, but because I don’t need to have it confirmed that everything I do, I do it for you – my AML community.) So if anyone out there is an expert on early Christian history and what they did with their money, please let me know – and meanwhile, I will stop calling the Crusaders money launderers. Although I bet they did.