Those of you who are familiar with my training style will know that what I aim to do is to make people care about money laundering. I think that if they care, then they will become angry that it happens, and eventually they will take responsibility for turning away from their door. One of my main methods for making them care are is to show them that money laundering allows criminals to get away with and profit from the crimes that they (the trainees) find most abhorrent. This means that I need to research my audience, find current examples of relevant crimes, and tell the stories in an engaging manner (all of which I enjoy). On top of this, however, I like to get the point across to people who think in numbers rather than emotions (and they are probably over-represented in the financial sector) – and I do this by talking about the size of the industry of money laundering.
This is nowhere near as easy as it sounds, as money launderers tend not to fill in tax returns. Thankfully, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has put out a rather large study into the flows of criminal money, which finally confirms the estimate that the IMF made waaaaay back in 1998 – that criminal proceeds account for 2-5% of global Gross Domestic Product. Now, that’s a big range, and the UNODC report reigns it in to a more specific 3.6%. Taking the most recent stat available, this 3.6% in 2009 was US$2.1 trillion – in other words, $2,100,000,000,000. I don’t know about you, but that large number leaves me a bit googly, and not actually much the wiser. So we need to get down to a figure that actually means something, and my preferred shock tactic has always been the “criminal earnings per minute” figure. There are 525,600 minutes in a year (although it feels like more if you’re watching a Steven Spielberg epic), so $2,100,000,000,000 divided by 525,600 gives us a whisker under $4,000,000 a minute. Now you’re talking: telling staff that criminals make – and therefore need to launder – $4 million a minute tends to get their attention. That’s another $12 mill added to the pot while you’ve been reading this blog.