As some of you may know, I am a magistrate. (Yes, we do sit on a raised platform. No, we do not get to wear fancy wigs and gowns. Yes, people do sometimes get confused and call us “Your Majesty”. Which I like enormously, as you can imagine.) What often surprises me is how loyal women can be to, let’s be honest, totally undeserving men. (I’m not talking about standing by your man when he has made a one-off error of judgement, and one reader in particular will know why I draw this distinction – I mean women who stick by complete scumbags. Technical legal term.) I once sent a man to prison for six months for drug dealing, and a perfectly nice looking woman at the back of the court called out as he was led away, “I’ll wait for you, babes!”. I wanted to grab her and say, “No! Whatever you do, do not wait for him – run as fast as you can in the other direction and make something of your life without him dragging you down.” It’s a mystery. And it’s on my mind because several stories in the press recently have illustrated what appallingly bad taste we women can sometimes exhibit.
Ruth Madoff, for instance. OK, so she and Bernie were childhood sweethearts, so there was a lot of history, but when he finally confessed to her – and only after it was all coming out anyway – that he had been a bit naughty with money, she agreed to enter into a suicide pact with him. What sort of a man lies to his wife for years and then asks her to kill herself with him? Thankfully, it seems that Ruth has realised the futility of her loyalty, and has cut ties with Bernie – but only after finding out that he had been having an affair for years. Earlier this month and closer to home, we had the story of great-grandfather George Evans and his drug dealing. Wife Anne helped with the laundering, and is now serving her own prison sentence. James Ibori, the corrupt Nigerian cashier-turned-politician managed the double: both his wife Theresa and his mistress Udoamaaka Okoronkwo were convicted of laundering money for him. Do they have neighbouring cells, I wonder?
Personally, I find it baffling. The money may be attractive, and we know that some women like bad boys. But the logic is flawed: if someone is a dedicated criminal, they make their living by lying and cheating and abusing. Why risk being with someone who may well bring those “skills” into their personal relationships? And from an AML perspective, it all demonstrates why we have to be so vigilant about joint accounts, and accounts sharing the same address, and close relatives (spouses, partners, mistresses) of PEPs.