As we all come to terms with the feelings stirred up by having spent more time than usual in close proximity to our nearest and dearest, and as we crawl our way towards the implementation of the Fourth Money Laundering Directive and its expanded definition of a PEP, it is interesting to reflect on how often (male) criminals will use their wives to help them launder their loot.
Scott Rothstein was a lawyer in Florida, and the mastermind behind a massive Ponzi scheme that bilked its victims of about US$1.2 billion – a crime for which he is currently serving fifty years. And he was married to a sweet young former cocktail waitress called Kimmie. When investigators went to the Rothsteins’ residence to seize jewellery, watches and other items purchased with dirty money. Kimmie assured them they had everything – but in fact she, her lawyer and a friend had hidden some key pieces and later tried to sell them. In a suicide text message that he sent to several people, Rothstein wrote: “Please protect Kimmie – she knew nothing” – but she certainly knew enough about how the system works to hide valuable items, and then lie on oath about it. And in November 2013 she was sentenced to eighteen months for hiding $1 million of jewellery.
Another example of someone keeping the laundering in the family (albeit a rather extended, might one say Hollande-ish definition of family), is James Ibori. This hyper-corrupt Nigerian former governor is serving time in the UK for fraud and money laundering, and sentences for laundering have also been handed to his sister Christine Ibie-Ibori, his wife Theresa Ibori – and his mistress Udoamaka Okoronkwo. I wonder whether the authorities saw fit to send them to the same jail.
All humour aside, one of the regular readers of this blog is herself the ex-wife of a money launderer, and periodically she does Internet searches on her own name. It’s not vanity: she’s doing it to check that he hasn’t used her name for another company formation. And often he has. It seems that when it comes to money laundering, no relationship is too precious, or too distant, or too finished, to be exploited.