Outside, looking in

Regular readers will know what a fan I am of Brexit.  I think it is the work of the devil, second only to “The One Show” for its ability to take something wonderful and then ruin it for everyone.  As an Australian friend asked me recently, “Why did the UK want to leave?  You already had a tailored membership – yes to the bits you liked (no more world wars and lots of French cheese) and no to the euro and Schengen.  What more did you want?”  Preaching to the converted – or rather, wailing with the inconsolable.  So it was salt in the wound to read that at the beginning of this month EU finance ministers agreed that they will soon be launching an EU body to fight money laundering.

Can I just explain the significance of that?  I first started working in AML in 1993 and set up Thinking about Crime Limited in 2003.  So that’s 27 years of AML-ing, woman and girl.  And mere months after I am dragged, kicking and screaming, from the EU, they are setting up what will be one of the most significant AML bodies in the world.  But hey, why would the UK want to be part of yet another centralised EU initiative?  It’s not as though money laundering is an international crime that demands an international solution.  It’s not as though sharing information and expertise will help every country that participates and produce something that is greater than the sum of its parts.  It’s not as though the new agency will benefit from economies of scale and will have international heft.  Except hold on: yes, it is.  And that’s not all: at the same meeting, the finance ministers also gave their backing for the Commission to harmonise EU AML rules and provide co-ordination and support for national FIUs of EU countries.

I feel like the little orphan gazing mournfully in at the happy smiling family gathered around the dinner table.  I can only imagine how NCA staff are feeling – all those years of co-operation, and now it’s finally coming to fruition and we’re no longer part of the gang.  I’m off to comb my family tree for relevant ancestry: I’ll take an Irish great-grandma or a Spanish third cousin – just let me and my AML obsession back in!

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6 Responses to Outside, looking in

  1. cartebien says:

    Perhaps I’m a misty-eyed internationalist, but it seems a shame if the UK, Switzerland and Australia aren’t able to manage close co-operation with the EU on AML without all having to sign up to membership of the same political union.

    In a cruel irony, I, my German-national sister, and most of my Swiss in-laws, are all entitled to Irish passports by birth or descent, but have never felt the need to have one. If it’s any crumb of consolation, you’re still free to live and work in Ireland thanks to the Common Travel Area, and I think you can apply for naturalisation after five years. (It’s necessary to be “of good character”, and apparently driving offences may count against you!)

    • I do hope you’re right, Cartebien, about the close co-operation even without EU family ties – I’ve been reading the UK government’s latest pronouncements on equivalence and I can’t make head nor tail of what they’re planning (perhaps that’s the idea…)! Although when the Chancellor says things like this, my little AML-ish heart does sink: “The government is undertaking a series of reviews to ensure regulation enhances the UK’s attractiveness to business and position as global financial hub. As part of this, the Chancellor today set out plans to boost the number of new companies who want to list in the UK. This includes establishing a taskforce that will propose reforms to the UK listings regime to attract the most innovative and successful firms and help companies access the finance they need to grow.”

  2. patersonloarn says:

    I apologise if this is a silly question – I suspect it is. I have both British and Irish passports. Does this mean that in some way I can benefit from this new EU initiative?

    • You could certainly look into it. If by “benefit from” you mean “apply to work for”, then yes, I should imagine you could. As could I – but I suspect they would look pityingly at my British passport, laugh sadly and send me on my way. If you mean benefit as a citizen of Ireland, then yes – Ireland will be party to all the shared AML goodies. *sad face*

  3. Trevor Casbolt says:

    Totally agree!

  4. Luke says:

    I get your argument; but why stop with inclusion in an EU centralised initiative? Why not champion a global initiative, with every country working together, cooperating together? Is that not the best way we can all beat/stay on top of the money laundering villains of the world?

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