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!