As I reach the final weeks of my career in AML, several people have asked me what I will miss the most. My husband – used, I suppose, to hearing the unvarnished version of events – has also asked me what I will miss the least. And this is it: explaining to people why money laundering is wrong. I am perfectly happy to spend time – hours, if needed – explaining why AML is a good idea and why certain businesses are well-placed to spot dodgy money and all the rest. But I do find it baffling/vexing to have to justify my view that money laundering is bad. It just is, OK? It’s the enabling crime that allows criminals to profit from all their other crimes – it’s the Donny of the Osmonds, it’s the Michael of the Jackson 5. The others would be nothing without their headliner (sorry, Alan, Wayne, Merrill, Jay, Marie and little Jimmy, and Jackie, Jermaine, Tito and Marlon* – it’s the truth).
Only last week, someone asked me during training, “Why do we bother with prosecuting for money laundering as well as the underlying offence? If someone is charged with fraud, why do we charge them with money laundering as well – isn’t that just overkill?” I pride myself on accepting every question with equanimity, but internally my dander was rising. The act of money laundering suggests pre-meditation and planning. It’s a deliberate attempt to keep the proceeds of the predicate crime, to continue benefitting from them. And if it works, it is an incentive to repeat the offence. The opportunist thief who sees an unattended wallet, fillets it and then spends the cash on Jaffa Cakes (just saying…) is one thing, but someone who opens a second bank account or sets up a shell company or coerces the owner of an online casino in order to have a route for their proceeds, well, that’s different. Agony aunts everywhere might advise you to forgive a partner who strays in a moment of lust- or alcohol-fuelled madness that they quickly regret and vow never to repeat – but who would pardon someone who plans their cheating, who builds alibis, creates alternative email addresses and gets a second phone? In some ways, the forward-planning and the determination to conceal wrongdoing is as bad as the actual wrongdoing – hence the hefty sentences for money laundering.
So no, I won’t miss that – I won’t miss explaining what should be perfectly self-evident: that I hate money laundering!
A final reminder, please, to consider taking part in my auctions for MLRO mugs and MLRO cufflinks – the mugs are being particularly keenly fought over, and I’d love to be able to send a hefty donation to Book Aid International. Here are the links to the mugs auction and the cufflinks auction. To take part, follow the auction link and then click on the photo on the right of the auction description (the one showing the current auction value and number of days left to run). Both auctions end on 12 December 2021 – with a fair wind, your bounty will be with you by Christmas!
* I knew those names and birth orders without even checking – I’m a child of the 1970s.