After my post on redemption for erring financial institutions, someone has raised an interesting related point. What about clients with spent convictions in their past? And, even more tricky, what about such employees? Under various pieces of legislation (e.g. the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 in the UK), cautions and convictions (apart from the most serious sentences) in most jurisdictions eventually become spent, and the ex-offender no longer has to declare them. But – particularly in small towns and small jurisdictions – word gets around. And Google searches quickly turn up local news stories and court reports. If someone has something dodgy in their past, and if that dodginess is financial in nature, what is the risk-aware MLRO to do?
On the other hand, our entire justice and prison system is built on the concept of redemption: you pay your penalty and move on. And redemption is the bedrock (indeed, the major selling point) of many major religions: repent and you shall be forgiven. But faced with a potential client who, years ago, perpetrated a fraud against his bank, or an employee who, when much younger, embezzled from her boss, what would you do? Take them on with super-ultra-über-enhanced due diligence and extra-vigilant monitoring? Or is it just not worth the risk?
Some people who have had a brush with the law go on to live successful, meaningful, honest lives. Just ask Simon Weston, Alan Charles and Bob Ashford. It is human nature to mistrust (as it is human nature to push the boundaries as far as you can) but surely as a society, if someone shows redemptive qualities, we should embrace them. Serial offenders, yes, I agree, why would you trust them again. Someone who may have made a major error of judgement and paid the price…… give them the benefit of the doubt. But then I would say that wouldn’t I.
Hello Otto’s Mummy
I had you in mind as I wrote this post, and I very much hoped that you would comment, so thank you. (Otto’s Mummy’s husband is currently serving a prison sentence for white collar crime.)
And I think that it is a very interesting distinction that you make, between someone who displays a one-off error of judgement and a serial offender.
I suppose an interesting question is: what can society and the criminal justice system do to ensure that the former does not turn into the latter?
Best wishes from Susan
Hi Susan, yes, it was a red rag to a bull!
I have been thinking about your post, and the more I go through day to day life, having someone you love inside makes you very alert to any hint or suspicion of crime. I truly believe that we all have it within ourselves to commit crime, especially white collar crime. It is so easy to get away with, appears victimless, justified in some cases. It’s almost a non crime in many people’s eyes. I personally think that the whole experience of going through the criminal justice system is enough to stop a misguided, one-time-only white collar criminal doing anything illegal again. This is also why I tell my story to others at the drop of a hat – it is easy, quiet, unnoticeable, but the ramifications upon discovery are volcanic. Unfortunately, serial offenders will always exist, even in the business world and I’m afraid to say, no amount of time inside will ever stop them.
Hello Otto’s Mummy
That is an interesting comment – friends have also told me that when they are pregnant, they can tell who else is pregnant, even before they show!
But back to crime. Like you, I think many people see white collar crime as a non-crime, a victimless crime – sometimes against an organisation or a system that “deserves it”. As you know, I deliver anti-money laundering training and, with your permission, would like to quote from your comment in that training, as a way to encourage people to keep their eyes open and to report anything suspicious. I wouldn’t identify you – just “a woman whose husband went to prison for white collar crime”. Would that be OK? (I’ll understand if not, but it’s just such a heartfelt comment – and people might respond to the realisation of the wider damage their actions can cause – turning their crime from victimless to victim-full.)
Best wishes from Susan