I am not good with violence – certainly not dishing it out, but not even watching it. I nearly keeled over into my popcorn during the chair-whipping scene in “Casino Royale”; after all, I had grown up with Bond films where violence is suggested rather than shown, and usually mildly comic (remember the multiple uses of the piranha pool, and the metal-floor-that-turns-into-a slide?). On many recommendations I bought the boxed set of “Breaking Bad”, but I am afraid that I have had to cede it to my husband, instructing him to watch it alone (the body-dissolving bits are just beyond me) and make a careful note of which parts of which episodes feature money laundering. And I have just finished reading “Suspicion” by Joseph Finder, which should required reading for anyone considering – even for a nanosecond – joining the ranks of what the UK’s National Crime Agency has taken to calling the “professional enablers”. In this thriller (don’t worry: no spoilers coming up) an investment manager is working for the Mexican Sinaloa cartel and things start to go wrong. Who would have guessed it, with such level-headed and charitable employers? In one scene (look away if you’re having elevenses) they tie a man to the rear bumpers of two cars and drive in opposite directions – he survives… And in another, their tame surgeon injects someone with a drug to heighten pain sensations, then sets to work with a scalpel. The truly horrifying thing? These are known, real warning “techniques” used by the drug cartels to ensure “loyalty”.
Once I had recovered my equilibrium (my favourite fictional character is Paddington Bear, so you see that the Mexicans are rather outside my comfort zone), I realised that we who work in AML need to know that this goes on. Understanding the true ruthless, callous and vicious nature of criminals – as opposed to the cuddly rogues of “Minder” and “Only Fools” – will make staff immeasurably more reluctant to do anything that might be construed as helping them. As our investment manager finds out, working with such people rarely ends well. And if you know what they do to “earn” their money, you would be mad to launder it. I might start suggesting screenings of “Casino Royale” for update AML training – I bet you would have no trouble at all getting full attendance.