CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
A careful pair of hands?
Article Type: Editorial From: Journal of Money Laundering Control, Volume 13, Issue 3
While it has to be admitted that there has been little discussion in the run up to the General Election on 6th May about money laundering, other than in the context of Members of Parliament’s own expenses, there have been a few less than impressive remarks about terrorist finance and the significance of financial intelligence in disrupting the Taliban and inhibiting the manufacture of improvised bombs in Afghanistan and increasingly Pakistan. Of course, there are few politicians that have had any real experience of the issues and an increasingly limited number who can remember back to the time when we were actually training the people who became the Taliban on the discreet management of their financial affairs! The issues involved in addressing the financing of subversion and terror are different, albeit highly related, to those involved in addressing profitable crime.
While some and by comparison with other important initiatives, a relatively significant investment has been made, particularly by the Ministry of Defence in attempting to develop intelligence packages, training and systems that might be helpful in impeding the wholesale manufacture of IEDs, this funding is now threatened. While much of what has been developed remains untested, several recent “interventions” have disrupted the support that insurgents are receiving from outside Afghanistan. Indeed, those close to the operations consider that, notwithstanding the profound difficulties of interdicting the flow of targeted funds through informal and often underground systems, results are obtainable. It remains to be seen, however, if these initiatives will survive – at least in the MoD, the inevitable cuts. There are similar concerns about other “flagship” projects in organisations such as SOCA.
It is clear that there have been significant improvements – at all levels of law enforcement in the UK, in the identification and interdiction of criminal property. The days when commentators could with justification describe the results of our proceeds of crime regime as pathetic have gone. Having said this, the really serious targets have not been any where near as amenable to financial disruption as the politicians were led to believe mainly by the “spooky side” of SOCA. The impact of human rights laws and competition between agencies – particularly internationally, has taken its toll. The suspicions of some that SOCA would not necessarily be a welcome or comfortable heir to ARA and its civil powers have not yet been wholly dispelled.
Of course, there is always very real potential for mixed messages, given the fact that even within the context of traditional proceeds of crime work, there are at least four – possibly competing (within a given period), objectives. Politicians tend to focus on seizure and interdiction of criminal funds. While we have become quite good at confiscating the conventional proceeds of crime and related wealth, the results in regard to criminal lifestyle remain problematic. Second, we are concerned to prosecute those offences relating to money laundering and in particular ensure efficient suspicion reporting. Third, there is the creation and management of financial intelligence and fourthly the disruption of crime. Of course, there are other issues – such as facilitating financial investigation, revenue collection and the enforcement of economic sanctions. The problem for an organisation such as SOCA is that it must address all these objectives and although quite properly for a variety of reasons, there will be different priorities it is at risk of criticism for a failure (or lack of enthusiasm) in any one. Finally, it is to be hoped that whoever is in power after 6th May, careful and adequate consideration is given to the nurturing and management of these resources. The record is tentative, their reputations fragile and morale – somewhat ephemeral.
8 April 2010.
Barry A.K. Rider