The other day I read an article on the BBC website that made me laugh out loud. Apparently the recent recession is having a particularly devastating effect on the wooing habits of Italian men, who can no longer afford to wine and dine even one woman in grand style, let alone maintain a mistress as well. As an Italian journalist explains: “Who can afford a double life today? Think about it – two Christmases, two apartments, two dinners, double holiday – it’s impossible!”
With my mind ever-tuned to money laundering, I wondered how earlier Casanovas accounted for themselves during due diligence questioning. After all, we train our staff to look out for the usual lifestyle expenses – rent, utility bills, seasonal holiday outlays – but what if all of that is doubled (or, for the particularly energetic) tripled up? Was the explanation “Well, you see, I have a mistress and a second household to pay for…” accepted at face value? Did the questioner look the client up and down and make a value judgement as to how likely it was that he was, well, particularly popular? Was evidence of this double life asked for? The mind boggles.
And looking at it from the other side, is “I’m rather a naughty boy and I have lots of women, children and associated expenses” a good cover story for a complicated financial life involving frequent (and seemingly duplicated) transactions? It ties in with the old dilemma about unfaithful politicians – if an MP lies to his/her spouse, can you trust them not to lie to you? And if a client is maintaining multiple (and presumably mutually unaware) households, is he also maintaining multiple financial lives? He may not be a criminal, but can you trust a word he says?