I recently celebrated a landmark birthday, and over the past year I have been reflecting on, and considering the future direction of, my career. Don’t panic: I am still obsessed with, dedicated to and fascinated by money laundering, but I have been trying to think of ways to develop my own understanding of it, and more particularly to extend my usefulness to the AML community. To this end, last year I had some interesting conversations with friends in the law enforcement and regulatory world, as I did not want to take this next step without their input and support.
Whenever I speak at a conference and am introduced as the “money laundering expert” (rather than anti-), I make a joke of it and say that those talks actually cost much more. Well, my levity has come back to bite me, as last summer I was approached by people high up in the UK AML community and asked if I could indeed offer such training as bait. A select group of us spent several weeks in the autumn designing materials outlining money laundering techniques that could work in the current international regulatory framework. Once they were ready, we used some “underworld contacts” (as the law enforcement representatives in our group so vividly phrased it) to put out the word and encourage interested parties to sign up. And they did. Obviously such a gathering could not happen here in the UK, as our strict border controls are unwelcoming to many who would want to attend, but a wealthy man who owed HMRC a favour agreed to allow his remote country home in an eastern European jurisdiction to be used for the event.
As you can imagine, I was a little nervous, but I was assured that my personal security would be of the utmost priority – and it was certainly the first time that I have delivered training flanked by (discreetly but comprehensively) armed men. It wasn’t quite “Spooks” or “The Night Manager”, but it was a deal closer to the action than I had ever imagined I would have the chance to be. You can appreciate that I can’t divulge any specific details, but I am promised that, once all relevant information has been sucked dry of investigative value, I will be able to write about it – now there’s a plan for my retirement!