Back in 1993 the UK introduced its first “in your face” anti-Money Laundering laws in the face of increased global terrorism and drug running. Oh, and let’s not forget tax evasion – that was the bit they didn’t say much about, but they did say a lot about the other two.
Since then the laws have got tougher and tougher so that nowadays you can’t do anything financial without jumping through a load of hoops first. Even Bryant Homes has a warning on their website about it if you want to buy a house from them.
But does it make any difference? Well, yes, it takes ages to open a bank account now. Making an investment is a real pain. But the terrorists? Do these people who insist on killing themselves or others “in the name of God” really care diddly squat about a small white lie on an anti-Money Laundering form?
“How did you come by the money?” is one of the standard questions. I mean, really! The bad guys aren’t really going to say “Well, it’s from a protection racket…” or “We robbed a Post Office” are they? I do have some pharmaceutical sales people who want to put down “Drug dealer” for their profession though!
Another good question is “Is the money your own, or does it belong to someone else (please say who)?” to which we all expect the bad guys to say “Nah, it’s a stash for Al Qaeda”. Right. What planet are the authors of these questions from?
Talking of Al Qaeda, they are reputed to work with uncut gems as currency, and use a strange Islamic system of financing that doesn’t involve any more than simple trust between people. Man A in Country X wants to give USD 5,000 to his associate, Man B, in Country Y. So he goes to his local Mosque and speaks to someone. He then gives the money to a stranger, who rings up a contact in Country Y who gives the money directly to Man B.
No electronic transfer. No paper trail. No bank involved – after all, banks are anti-Islamic, aren’t they? They work on interest, and that’s the spawn of satan.
So why the hell do we have to go through all the rigmarole of filling in all the anti-Money Laundering forms? That’s like trying to deter suicide bombers with the death sentence. It’s totally irrelevant.
Anti-Money Laundering forms do perform some useful function – helping the government to raise more tax money. Ah, so that’s what it’s all about… now I get it!