You know how there are some words you find yourself saying dozens of times a day – diligence, laundering, chocolate. Well, one I use more than most is “guidance”. I must have said it a hundred times yesterday, when I was running a workshop for MLROs: the JMLSG guidance, guidance from the authorities, weak guidance, untested guidance… And like all words when you say them often enough, it started to sound a bit ridiculous – and I started to question its real meaning.
According to my trusty OED, guidance is “advice or information aimed at solving a problem or difficulty” (and, interestingly, is found on the same dictionary page as “Guernsey – a breed of dairy cattle”). So this suggests that the very existence of AML guidance issued by the JMLSG, the ICAEW and others presupposes that the subject they aim to illuminate is a “problem or difficulty”. Personally, I have never thought of the money laundering requirements that way: they are certainly a challenge and at times a puzzle, but “problem or difficulty” is way too negative. They are things that you try to overcome, whereas the AML regime should (to my mind) be something you try to support and enhance. I know: I’m touchingly naive and Pollyanna-ish about it all.
As to the guidance that is actually on offer, well, that’s another story. Does the JMLSG guidance “solve” the AML regime? Does the more recent Ministry of Justice guidance “solve” the Bribery Act 2010? Would that it were so.