A while ago, I confessed to my addiction to consultations. Give me the chance to have my say, and I’m there, all opinions blazing. This past summer there was quite a rash of them (consultations, not opinions), including one issued by the Jersey Financial Services Commission on proposed changes to the island’s AML regime, and specifically to its Money Laundering (Jersey) Order 2008. I put in a response – of course I did, despite not being regulated by the JFSC, or living in Jersey, or doing much more than liking their ice-cream (well, apart from caring really quite a lot about their AML regime).
Over the years I have responded to perhaps a dozen consultations on this same model: here are changes we would like to make to our AML regime – what do you think of them? But this one had an added dimension that jumped out at me. If you look at the initial consultation document, you will see that for every revision suggested, the JFSC compares it to what is being done in Guernsey, the UK and the Isle of Man. In other words, it is benchmarking its AML regime. It doesn’t say (otherwise it wouldn’t be a neutral consultation) whether it thinks one approach or another is better: it just lays them out. And in the feedback on the consultation, the points at which respondents pointed out similarities to or differences from the other three jurisdictions are noted. And where the JFSC has decided to follow the lead of one of the other three, this is also stated.
I have always thought that one of the simplest ways to foil money launderers would be to eliminate differences between national AML regimes – to remove all the loopholes, so that the criminals have nowhere to turn, and no-one to play off against anyone else. And seeing this very small step towards homogenisation (note use of dairy term in deference to Guernsey and Jersey readers) gives me a bit of hope that one day, perhaps one day, it could just happen.