People sometimes ask me how I can bear to stick with one subject for so long. The answer, of course, is that it’s not really the same subject for very long. True, the aim of money laundering is fairly predictable (trying to hide the criminal origins of assets so that they can be preserved and enjoyed) – but the crimes and methods change all the time, necessitating our defences to change as well. It’s one of the most vibrant and fast-moving subjects in the world.
This was brought home to me recently when I read about horsemeat. I have seen a connection between money laundering and horses before: the bloodstock market (sale of live horses, for racing and/or breeding) is traditionally quite cash-intensive, and those who conduct the trade are usually therefore considered to be high value dealers and to come under the AML umbrella. (Someone once asked me whether stud activities were included, as hiring out your stallion to cover mares is a service, not a product. The answer is that if you send the stallion to do his duty, then it’s a service and not included. If, on the other hand, you – how to be delicate? – extract his stallion essence and sell this for mares to be artificially inseminated, then you are selling a product and if you do that for cash, you are included. I bet you’re glad you asked.)
But what I read recently was about the trade in dead horses. It seems that a Europe-wide criminal network under the control of a Dutchman living in Spain has been slaughtering horses in Portugal and Spain that had been deemed not fit for human consumption, and then fraudulently labelling the meat and selling it anyway. The story initially broke in the UK in April 2013 (when edible horsemeat was found to have been fraudulently mixed with beef in burgers), but at that time the Dutch ringleader could not be found – and now he’s been arrested in Belgium. What I find interesting – of course – is that he and his sixty-five co-accused have been charged with crimes including animal abuse, forgery, racketeering – and money laundering. Even better, the authorities have already seized bank accounts, properties and luxury cars. You see: a whole new crime to talk about. I always try to find crimes that will strike a chord with trainees, outraging them at the dastardliness of criminals, and scoffing horses should fit the bill in England.