Not all publicity is good publicity

A couple of days ago I received an interesting little update from the National Crime Agency, explaining their policy on publicising arrests.  As regular readers may have gathered, I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about the sensibilities and hurt feelings of money launderers, but even I will agree that it is perhaps not quite cricket to name and shame someone simply because they have been arrested on suspicion of money laundering.  (And yes, I do realise that the NCA does other things apart from investigate money laundering – but why they would bother, when ML is quite the most fascinating and important crime ever, is beyond me.)  So it is both helpful to read the NCA policy, and intriguing to wonder why they have felt the need to publicise it just at this moment.  (Come on: you’d be disappointed if I wasn’t always suspicious about these things.)

According to an NCA spokesman: “We consider publishing the details of arrests in every instance, and on a case by case basis, but it is not appropriate or practical to publicise every single one.  Decisions involve multiple considerations, for example balancing transparency with the need to preserve operational integrity or protect vulnerable people.  We also need to consider the right to a fair trial and the risk of jeopardising a prosecution in the event that charges are brought.  An individual who has not been charged, and may still be released without charge, should reasonably expect to have their details made public only when law enforcement has the evidence to bring charges against them… We do have discretion to name on arrest but there must be a sound justification to do so, for example it is not uncommon for individuals to be named where there is a threat to life.”

It is something I have wrestled with myself – no mean physical feat, but when you are a one-person business, that will happen.  On the Latest news page of my website (and on my @susangrossey Twitter feed) I try to put links to current money laundering stories.  And I have had to decide my own cut-off point: do I links to stories about money laundering arrests, or only convictions, or only sentences?  In the end, I decided on a compromise, and now I am happy to link to stories about people being charged with money laundering – on the “no smoke” premise.  Also, I think that once someone has been charged, it is an accepted fact in the legal system – there is now a charge on record.  Of course, if someone is later acquitted, I try to include that story as well, although it is rarer than you might imagine.  I think that the prosecuting authorities – wary themselves of bad publicity – are particularly careful about having their evidential ducks in a row before even bringing a charge of money laundering.

This entry was posted in Due diligence, Legislation, Money laundering and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Not all publicity is good publicity

  1. LordGidds says:

    Also this article from Ken is interesting:

    ARRESTS vs. CONVICTIONS

    By Ken Rijock,

    A decade ago, when I served as a compliance officer, a prospective American high net-worth client passed all my enhanced due Diligence tests, but something about his level of intelligence bothered me, for I had met the client, and he was no Bill Gates. When your EDD fails to uncover what you think is there, look carefully at the professionals surrounding the client; his attorney, accountant and financial advisers. If they have issues, then the client may not bee whom he or she appears to be.

    His attorney lived in the next state from his client, which bothered me, because any professional who serves wealthy clients should be prepared for late-night meetings at short notice, and being repeatedly called by the client to attend conferences with the client’s staff. This cannot happen if the attorney lives hundreds of miles away, so I immediately ran a check of arrest records, both local and Federal on the lawyer. Why not just convictions, you say ?

    You know, or course, that criminal convictions disqualify attorneys from practicing law, but some cases are dismissed, or drag on for years, while still others result in acquittals. Always look for arrests, because good lawyers can delay a case literally for years, and the fact of the arrest may not show up a traditional database profile for months, when the profile is routinely updated. That is the flaw in any database that screens by client profile, rather than by the crime, and negative information.

    In this case, the lawyer had been able to postpone his own trial on a money laundering charge for years. If I had only been looking for convictions, I would never have found it. The lawyer turned out to be an “offshore specialist,” and his client a front-man for a criminal organization. This makes the case for searching for answers through negative information, rather than a profile of the target. Use a resource that gives you results limited to negative information on your target, rather than one that merely offers a profile of the prospective client.

  2. Many thanks for this, LordGidds – that’s another facet of the decision that I had not considered.
    Best wishes from Susan

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