The honey money trap

On the Stop Press page of my website, I am careful not to recirculate gossip and rumour rather than fact.  This blog, on the other hand, owes more than a little to Alice Roosevelt Longworth (Teddy’s daughter) who declared, “If you haven’t got anything nice to say about anybody, come sit next to me”.  And so I feel that I can say something about the recent hoohah concerning DEA money laundering stings.

Sadly less glamorous than Redford and Newman in a jaunty array of headwear, this is the allegation that the US Drug Enforcement Agency has been laundering money for Mexican drug cartels in order to gather enough evidence to bring criminal charges.  No-one is denying the allegations; in fact, the Justice Department has confirmed that Congress gave the DEA permission to conduct such sting operations as far back as 1984.  But one Congressman – Darrell Issa of California – has a bee in his bonnet about it and has joined forces with a colleague from Iowa to look into stings in general (I didn’t intend that pun, but it’s a goodie so I’ll leave it in).  In response, the DEA has said that the stings are producing invaluable results: Operation Pisces, for instance, involved laundering $116 million and resulted in the arrests of more than 200 drug dealers and the seizure of 11,000 pounds of cocaine.  You could make a lot of shoes from that…

This is one of those circular situations that sometimes arise in AML endeavours.  Indeed, I am regularly asked by witty delegates at training whether, by providing AML services for payment, I am in fact living off the proceeds of crime and by paying them into my bank account am indulging in laundering.  The expression “she smiled thinly” comes to mind.

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