You know organised crime? Well, it’s crime and – follow me carefully – it’s organised. I think this major characteristic is sometimes overlooked in all the hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth over how we’re never going to beat it. A few years ago I went on holiday to Sicily, and dragged my poor husband into the rather faded Grande Hotel des Palmes in Palermo – I even visited the velvet-draped ladies’ room with its plastic pot plants and sickly air-spray. Why was I so keen? Well, this hotel is where Mafia leaders meet every year to carve up the globe: you do this crime, we’ll do that one, and we’ll stop wasting time getting in each other’s way and having to kill each other. Cin cin! (That’s Italian for “bottoms up”.) They have done this every October since 1957 – hence the relative lack of Mafia wars in recent years.
I’m not one to glamorise crime or criminals – filthy scumbags, the lot of them (except perhaps Butch Cassidy, and then only when played by Paul Newman). But I do admire their ability to see the big picture and realise that co-operation is the way to go – while we, on the side of the angels, seem to conjure up obstacles out of nothing. We don’t have an internationally-agreed list of dodgy jurisdictions – why not? We don’t have an internationally-agreed list of PEPs – why not? We don’t even have the all crimes approach in all jurisdictions – why not?
And even down at individual company level, we are hamstrung. I do understand that there are commercial considerations, but surely protecting the world’s financial sector should override these? If everyone asked the same (tough) due diligence questions of all new clients, then there would be no weak links in the system for them to exploit. If institutions were allowed to pass on information about rogue clients and employees, those naughty people could not simply go down the road and diddle someone else. I know that I will be accused of living in Cloud Cuckoo Land (no, not the boutique in St Peter Port), but if nasty Neanderthals like criminals can sort out their differences over a few drinks at the Grande Hotel, why can’t the world’s legislators and FIUs?