For a while now I have been meaning to do a post on the laundering spouses of criminals (“Dastardly Housewives”, perhaps), but events have rather overtaken me in recent days as three stories have hit the news about laundering not by wives but by daughters. I’m not talking about dozy girls with more money than sense who flash the cash and get caught (although we all enjoyed witnessing the fiscal come-uppance of Filipina Jeane Napoles last October). Rather I mean women who, by dint of being the daughter of a PEP are themselves categorised as PEPs, and then prove us all right to take extra caution with them by (allegedly) abusing their position to (allegedly) launder money.
The first is, of course, Infanta Cristina of Spain. Daughter of King Juan Carlos, the Infanta is married to Inaki Urdangarin, the Duke of Palma, who is suspected of misusing millions of euros in public funds that were given to a charitable foundation he ran. Last month the Infanta was summoned to appear in a Mallorca court to answer questions about what she knew about her husband’s financial dealings, and rumours continue to circulate that she helped him move money around when the suspicion is that she knew something dodgy was going on. Neither the Duke nor the Infanta has been charged.
Today the Swiss authorities announced that they are investigating Gulnara Karimova, the eldest daughter of the president of Uzbekistan, on suspicion of money laundering. The investigation involves the business activities of Swedish telecoms firm TeliaSonera, which was accused in a 2012 Swedish television report of paying an intermediary company, Takilant, $300 million for 3G mobile phone rights in Uzbekistan. Karimova had her diplomatic immunity lifted last year when she lost her post as Uzbek envoy to the UN (although she still works as a businesswoman and pop star back home in Uzbekistan), and the Swiss started looking into her financial affairs almost immediately.
And the third story is a good illustration of the difficulties of applying PEP status. President Obama (PEP, for sure) used to attend a church where the pastor was Jeremiah Wright (PEP by association?), and Jeremiah has a daughter called Jeri (PEP by being related to a PEP by association?). Last week Jeri was found guilty of laundering thousands of dollars from a $1.25 million state grant for a Chicago-based job-training programme. Well, my friends with children always say that boys are more trouble for the first ten years, and girls forever afterwards.