When I first started working in the world of AML, decades ago, Asil Nadir was the big news. He was accused of theft and went on the run to northern Cyprus to avoid going on trial. (Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always thought that running away from a trial sort of incriminates you.) Anyway, he came back two years ago to clear his name – those in the know say that he has health problems, and perhaps has an eye on his eternal reputation. According to BBC home affairs correspondent Dominic Casciani, who spoke to Nadir a few weeks ago, “he is exceptionally clever – so clever in fact, that he convinced himself that he could outwit the Serious Fraud Office and its thousands of pages of evidence”. He won’t be best pleased with the guilty verdicts and the ten-year sentence, then. He was actually given two five-year sentences, and they could have run concurrently, but the judge chose to order them consecutive “to mark your persistence in offending repeatedly over a lengthy period”. Nadir declared himself “most disappointed” – oh, and innocent.
You know where I am going with this. In the immortal words of little Tom Cruise: “Show me the money!” If the SFO was fairly certain of being able to prove theft, why did they not bung money laundering onto it as well? But perhaps a money laundering investigation involving Northern Cyprus – a self-declared state recognised only by Turkey, and considered by the rest of the world to be occupied territory – would be just too gruesome, cumbersome and ultimately doomed to failure. It’s hard to find much information on a jurisdiction that does not exist, but according to the US State Department’s International Narcotics Control Strategy Report 2012: “The Turkish Cypriot community [aka Northern Cyprus] continues to lack the legal and institutional framework necessary to provide effective protection against the risks of money laundering, although significant progress has been made in recent years with the passage of ‘laws’ better regulating the onshore and offshore banking sectors and casinos [although] the offshore banking sector remains a concern… The Turkish Cypriot community is not part of any FATF-style regional body and thus is not subject to normal peer evaluations. Turkish Cypriot authorities have taken steps to address the risk of financial crime, including enacting an ‘anti-money laundering law’ for the area and formally establishing an FIU equivalent.” I think I may have answered my own question: it’s hard enough getting information from a “normal” jurisdiction with laws instead of ‘laws’ and an FIU instead of an equivalent, so perhaps I should just be grateful for the ten years, and hope that the Financial Circumstances Order that Nadir is required to submit before the compensation and costs hearing on 27 September gives us all a good laugh.
Of course, the question remains about where the money has gone. I understand that Nadir made certain political donations between 1985 and 1990, and that calls have been made for these donations to be returned. If they are not, is that laundering? The money was apparently received in good faith, but now that its criminal origin has been proved in court….