One laundering strike and you’re out

Continuing my theme from earlier in the week, I have been thinking further about financial forgiveness.  A few days ago, the Charity Commission’s chairman William Shawcross said that he thought that Islamic extremism is a deadly threat to charities in England and Wales, and also that it is “ludicrous” that people with convictions for terrorism or money laundering are not automatically disqualified from setting up charities or becoming trustees.  Moreover, he has written to David Cameron to ask for changes to the law.

As you may know, I am a magistrate.  And when we are sentencing someone, their list of “previous” (convictions) is always taken into account.  But not just as a simple number; the nature of the offence is also pertinent.  So someone who has a history of, say, shoplifting but has just pleaded guilty to their first assault will (all other things being equal) get a lighter sentence than someone with a history of shoplifting and assault offences.  In other words, as you would expect, if they’ve done something like it before and are just not learning their lesson, the punishment grows stronger.  And when we are talking about their “previous”, we categorise them into, for instance, offences of violence, or offences of dishonesty – so someone’s defence lawyer will often say something like this: “I cannot hide my client’s colourful past, Your Worships – but you will see that he has never before been convicted for an offence of a like nature.  He has a history of bad temper while in drink, but never before has he robbed a bank.  And he loves his mother very much.”

When someone has served their penalty for an offence, the general expectation is that – after a certain period – the record is wiped clean.  But there are already (perfectly sensible) exceptions to this: those with convictions for violence against or abuse of young people are barred from working in schools, for example.  Looking closer to home, an FCA fact-sheet on “Applications for approval – our approach to adverse disclosures” gives no hard and fast rules but says this:  “Occasionally we receive applications for approval to perform a controlled function [such as director, or MLRO] for an individual candidate who has a criminal conviction… We consider several factors when we assess the fitness and propriety of an individual candidate to perform a particular controlled function.  The most important considerations include the individual’s honesty, integrity and reputation and to help us assess this, we will look at any criminal convictions.  We take all criminal convictions seriously.  However, crimes where the individual has acted with dishonesty are of particular concern, even when the convictions are ‘spent’.  This is because we must assess whether to approve someone to perform a controlled function(s) relating to other people’s finances.  Parliament has recognised this by giving us a specific exemption to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.”  So what do we think?  Should someone with a conviction for (let’s be specific here – and it’s my blog and my favourite subject, so there) money laundering be barred automatically from certain jobs?  Simply working in a casino, for instance, or only actually managing one?  Any job where he will be handling money – and actually physically handling, or overseeing/directing the handling of?  Any job at all with an element of trust?

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3 Responses to One laundering strike and you’re out

  1. Claire says:

    Yes, I think they should be barred from certain jobs, unless they can prove they have changed their life and contributed significantly to the community. I am just thinking of a case on which the movie “Catch me if you can” is based.

  2. Daniel Rose says:

    I don’t think Charities are protected enough at all and I don’t believe the commission is the body who should be looking at extremeism in charities, this should continue to be with the police and other specialist forces. Any powers of the commission to investigate or prosecute such matter are already established inlaw yo enable them to delegate power.

    The commission sits too quietly and issues of security and extremism are Mr Shawcross’ personal interest, as we can see from his books, this should not have been brought to the commissions door and far too much president is fixed on this subject as we can see from their inquiry reports!

    For the last two and half years we’ve been exposing the decipt and corruption in a local charity! Which was even on a BBC under cover TV show Week In Week Out (BBC Wales – 12 December 2016) evidence of lies, financial abuse, plethera of constitutional and governance failures and the commission even allowed an illegal AGM to happen providing validity to charity corruption, right now theyve not answered any questions and even ignored my emails for now 60 working days. These corrupt indivifuals are still in power of this charoty yet Mr shaecross believe the commissions abilities should focus on extremism and verge on racism.

    • Thank you for your comment, Dan, and welcome to the blog. In many areas it is difficult for supervisory bodies – whether that be the Charity Commission or, for instance, the FCA or HMRC – to recruit staff with the current and high-level expertese they need to truly understand and monitor the activities of those whom they supervise. It is an ongoing cause for concern in many sectors and jurisdictions.
      Best wishes from Susan

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