ICT Views

Money Laundering: missing the point?

by: (Associate Director, Research and Development) on

Apologies in advance - this is only going to be a short blog, and is also a bit of a rant.

(FYI - I write blogs in one of two ways – planned and considered, or as a response to something I’ve read. This is firmly a case of the latter. I have even used CAPITALS for emphasis, which I normally don’t like as it looks kind of abrasive).

It’s not fine

Today I saw the report that Standard Chartered had been fined.


This time it’s because the monitor (in place after the last ML/Sanctions enforcement) identified that the Bank (SCB) had failed to live up to its commitments to improve money laundering controls – apparently SCB had ‘failed to detect a large number of potentially high risk transactions’.

It was reported SCB have agreed to pay a further $300m penalty. And have also been banned from accepting new dollar clearing accounts without the state's approval.

Yawn, you might say. Old news. No surprise. We see it all the time. There’ll be another next week.


dollarsIf you have a look at the article I have hyperlinked above, you might notice the same as I did. There DOES seem to be an element of blasé creeping in. Banks are bad, pay the fine, etc etc. Same old same old?

If you consider impact, the article talks about impact on the regulators, impact on the bank, even impact on some customers. There are a lot of words used like “small proportion” and “not significant issues”. And that’s what has prompted me to blog today.

The media don’t (to me) seem to be mentioning WHY we need robust AML controls any more. The average ‘man on the street’ seems to be the one group who is missing from those considered under ‘impacts’. It only takes ONE TRANSACTION for criminal money to be moved internationally, a terrorist attempt to be successfully funded and (innocent) people’s lives to be changed forever.

Yes, it’s massively complicated.

Yes, it’s massively expensive.

And yes, it will sometimes go wrong.

But it’s not about numbers, share price, fines and publicity. It’s about maintaining the security of ordinary people.

I don’t think we should lose sight of why we are doing it. I hope we don’t anyway.

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