Sitting in court (I’m a magistrate) a little while ago, I listened to an “ex-alc” (someone charged with driving with excess alcohol in their system – drink-driving, in other words) explain how she came to be behind the wheel that night. She had a 19-year old daughter who had gone to a party and become rather overly-refreshed. The father of the party boy called our woman and asked her to come and get her daughter, who was being very sick in his garden. No taxi company would take her in that state, and the last trains and buses had gone. The only option, said the woman, was for her to collect her wayward child. But, having expected her daughter to get home under her own steam, the woman had tucked into the wine and was definitely over the limit. Backed into a corner, and very reluctantly she said, she drove anyway and collected upchucking child. Why were you so reluctant, asked her lawyer in court, doing his best to demonstrate his client’s remorse. “I knew I could lose my licence!” she wailed. Not “I knew I could kill someone because of my drink-impaired driving”, but “I knew I could lose my licence”.
This is what happens when we focus on the what of the legislation rather than the why. Yes, you lose your licence for drink-driving, but why? Because you are a danger to yourself and others when you drive a large metal weapon with impaired perception and reflexes. Yes, you go to prison for money laundering, but why? Because your actions allow criminals to flourish. And this distinction goes to the very heart of my attitude to AML training. Much as I support heavy (if not heavier) penalties for driving under the influence and for money laundering, I would much prefer people to want to comply than to fear not complying. I have always thought that the way to make staff (and directors, and MLROs for that matter) care deeply enough about AML to want to do it properly is not by making them scared of the possible penalties if they don’t, but rather by making them outraged at the possible social consequences if they don’t. I want them to think not, “I could go to prison for fourteen years”, but rather “I could enable people traffickers to flourish” or “If these tax evaders continue to cheat, that’s hospitals and schools that aren’t being built”. I suppose it’s all about taking personal responsibility for doing the right thing, as opposed to doing it because you’re forced to. (And that’s why I don’t have weighing scales in the house: I’ll cut down on the Jaffa Cakes when it’s the right thing to do, and not when a silly number suggests it.)