The sniff test

The relationship between jewellers and the AML regime is a complicated one.  For several years most jurisdictions have recognised the concept of the “high value dealer” – under UK legislation, that’s “a firm or sole trader who by way of business trades in goods (including an auctioneer dealing in goods), when the trader makes or receives, in respect of any transaction, a payment or payments in cash of at least 10,000 euros in total, whether the transaction is executed in a single operation or in several operations which appear to be linked”.  But the Fifth Money Laundering Directive has extended the AML family (regardless of method of payment) only to bring in “art market participants” – and this does not, for the most part, encompass jewellers.  In short, jewellers are in only if they accept large amounts of cash.  And boy oh boy, do Trotters Jewellers of Bethnal Green accept large amounts of cash.

Did you see it?  Did you watch the Channel 4 documentary called “Diamond Dealers and Cockney Geezers”?  If not, you have a fortnight left to watch it on catch-up – go and feast your eyes.  If bling’s your thing, Judd, Kallum and Alex are the chaps for you.  You may even be tempted by “the chandelier” – a normal watch sent to Hong Kong to be plastered with 100 carats of diamonds and then priced at £100,000.  For my part, I was drawn in by the artfully angled shots of their cash-counting machine, and – with this visible evidence of their HVD status – I looked forward to a detailed explanation of their CDD procedures and source of funds enquiries.

I can report that this seems to consist mainly of asking customers, “What do you do, then?” as the customer hoicks great wads of cash from their holdall (or even from a McDonald’s bag, apparently).  One such customer, Radley, explained that he’s a brickie and was buying himself a £12,000 watch as a reward for “grafting my arse off”.  (And only, I am sure, after paying the required tax on his earnings.)  Of course, CDD does not make riveting viewing for most people and perhaps the trio were doing more behind the scenes, but as they boasted of their customers being “city boys, gangsters, travellers and local crackers” – as well as “local amateur horticulturist” (aka cannabis farmer) Grizz – perhaps not.  None of the lads admitted to being the MLRO.  And as for source of funds, they observed that “you can tell where the money’s from by smelling it – if it stinks of weed, well, that’s standard”.  I assume this documentary is required viewing at HMRC…

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9 Responses to The sniff test

  1. Well this sound downright suspicious to me. Is it just me?

  2. patersonloarn says:

    That’s tonight’s TV sorted! Thank you.

  3. Robert James Long says:

    I am sure the moment any of Her Majesty’s Constabulary, Revenue Collectors or other earnest servants arrive to discuss this documentary with the owners they will fall over themselves to say they where just play acting for the camera, just a bit of fun and it was all puff. Of course their clients are all respectable people not gangsters’ at all. What is that? You would like to see the records…

    IN a sane world anyway…

  4. They can play-act all they like – wealth managers do something similar at the other end of the scale, when they name-drop about their clients and parties in Gstaad – as long as they’re doing the required (and non-cinematic) AML stuff behind the scenes. I can’t tell you how much I hope they didn’t think of that when they made this documentary and are taken aback when the taxman turns up.

    • patersonloarn says:

      Purely as entertainment, I loved the programme. I’m not convinced by their ‘common people’ pose. There were moments when they came across as very sharp businessmen. I’d have liked to hear more about the father who previously ran the shop.

      • Oh, I have no doubt at all that they are excellent salesmen – they know their market and they have the patter that pleases their customers. And I suspect that they do know the score with regard to AML – but wouldn’t it be fun if they didn’t?

      • patersonloarn says:

        It’s fun whatever way you look at it!

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