So the Panama Papers are Out There. Hands up who has gone into the database and searched on their own name…. Of course I did, with such an unusual name – not that I have ever done anything myself, you can be sure, but because I thought some money launderer with a wicked sense of humour might have stolen my identity for his own ends. But nothing. I was checking merely out of morbid curiosity, but for one friend of mine, it was a matter of great seriousness. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a friend who used to be married to a money launderer but is now a staunch supporter of the AML cause. As soon as the database was made public, she was online, and here’s what she found (I have edited slightly to protect her identity and that of her children, but otherwise, it’s just as she put it):
“Yep, my ex is mentioned in the Panama Papers [but] I am happy to say I am not!! My son said that when he was in Monaco, he had to do some archiving for his dad – moving boxes to a cellar one street further. That is how he always has kept some more sensitive files, out of reach of an eventual search warrant. I think my ex is actually good at his ‘job’ because the real beneficial owners of those accounts (his clients) are not mentioned [in the Panama Papers]. He has a big client in Belgium [but] at the time, my ex’s best friend from his childhood years, now living in Australia, was the official owner of the company – they even used to organise official visits of this ‘owner’.
“I looked up [in the Panama Papers, and without finding him] one of his clients that we used to see a lot, [an American], [who] is so corrupt! He deals with government officials in the aviation business everywhere; I remember a Canadian minister getting $500,000 to sign the purchase of an Airbus. But the whole deal was corrupt. At the time I was working for a Lloyds of London insurance broker in Monaco, and I was allowed to quote for the insurance. But then I saw that the value they put was wrong, and I pointed this out to Lloyds of London, that it must have been a mistake (I was so innocent…). So obviously the insurance was more expensive. Oh, the client was not happy… These are just the things I know, so you can imagine how corrupt the whole deal just was.
“My ex had a whole range of friends and relations who acted as company directors. They would be living in a jurisdiction where they would be harder to touch, e.g. in Monaco, you cannot be sued for fiscal fraud, so no international warrant will ever be issued against you there. My ex is director of 175 companies… (he is mentioned only 8 times in the Panama Papers, so you see that is just a drop in the ocean).”
Thank you for always having listened to me. It means a lot. And I hope your anti-money laundering message gets out! So many people don’t care. Or are they just “afraid” to react when I tell some of my story?
On the contrary, Claire, I should be thanking you for speaking out. Your situation is an ongoing warning to all MLROs, as I am sure your ex comes across as a reliable, reputable professional, with all the right documents and all the right answers whenever he needs to.
Best wishes from Susan
Thank you for sharing not so many people can speak out.The phenomenon of money laundering, amongst other economic and financial crimes have had better success in infiltrating into the economic and political structures of most developing countries therefore resulting to economic digression and political instability.
Thank you for your comment, Paul, and welcome to the blog. Yes, it is very brave and generous of Claire to share her story with us – she has been a good friend of this blog, and now works hard to raise awareness of money laundering and the damage it causes to our communities (including, in her case, her own family).
Best wishes from Susan
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