The end of the year is traditionally a time for pause and reflection, for looking back and assessing whether it has been a good year or a bad. So what have been my AML high spots in 2013?
It started off very well when I received an invitation to the big EU/FATF AML beano in Brussels in March – to this day I suspect that I was invited in error, but before they could reconsider I had accepted, booked the Eurostar and chosen my outfit (memorable yet respectful – that was the note I hoped to strike). What an indulgence! A whole day talking about money laundering and AML with people who take it as seriously as I do (or at least, are paid by their Member States to put on a good show of doing so). And to hear the very latest thinking from the European Commission, the FATF, Transparency International, the World Bank and others – readers, I was in heaven. Plus, I shook hands and had a little chat with John Carlson of the FATF – not quite Donny Osmond in my rankings, but really not far off. And then I had dinner with a woman I have been in touch with for years: the ex-wife of a money launderer, she has been the source of much inspiration, information and encouragement, and it was a delight to share some frites with her.
The year continued on a high note as I bombarded the world with my writing. This blog is going great guns (278 followers and nearly 27,000 hits), Ned the piggy is selling steadily in his five jurisdictional incarnations, and my first fiction effort is garnering good reviews (and being sold in real bookshops by real booksellers – be still, my beating heart).
2013 has been a good year for convictions – at least in the jurisdictions that I serve. It’s not simply schadenfreude – although of course I take inordinate pleasure from the misfortune of money launderers. Rather, it is so much easier to demonstrate both the need for AML legislation and efforts and their beneficial effect if you can show that money launderers, and institutions playing fast and loose with their AML obligations, are found, prosecuted and punished. So my heartfelt thanks go out to Curtis Warren, Paul Ludden, HSBC, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, Guaranty Trust Bank et al for their selfless contribution to the AML cause.
And in one of my last training sessions of the year, I arrived in the conference room to the most wonderful sight: my client had so very kindly provided (wait for it) a box of Jaffa Cakes. I must be one of the luckiest people in the world, making a living doing something I love so much, and with such thoughtful people. Roll on 2014 and plenty more AML challenges – and a very happy new year to you all.