With this ring, I thee exploit

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.

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2 Responses to With this ring, I thee exploit

  1. Claire says:

    Well, Susan, you know me… Yes, my ex used my bank account once to launder a certain amount of money. At that point, I still had no clue to what he was doing. The bank manager (whom I had worked for in the past) kindly told me not to do it. But I trusted my husband… That is what you want to do, what you long for: being able to trust the man you married, the father of your children. I still have that bank slip.
    There were many opportunities where someone could have taken me aside and explained money laundering to me. But no one did. Other than the bank manager telling me I shouldn’t date that man, or his ex-business associate warning me that one day I’ll have to bring him oranges, no one bothered. My ex had an explanation for everything. When you live in a fiscal paradise, you live in an unreal world.
    I know that some of his friends were, and still are, actively involved in his schemes. I also know one of his brothers refused (the ex-business partner told me when I spoke to him).
    So what can I say? If you notice something suspect in your friend’s, colleague’s life, don’t be afraid to ask questions, or to educate about (fiscal) crime. Sometimes the feeling wanting to trust someone overrides the feeling that something is wrong.
    Oh yes, I googled myself again 🙂 The directorships have gone down to page 2 at least… The busier I get in this life, the more my old life goes down!

  2. Thanks for your detailed comment, Claire – it is absolutely vital for MLROs and others concerned with AML to get real information about how money launderers work. And when there is a personal connection – spouse, sibling, child – it can be almost impossible for the victim to see clearly what is going on and how they are being abused. You did so well to get away from this criminal.
    Best wishes from Susan

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