Well folks, it’s Christmas. The time when many traditions come to the fore, and one of the more palatable traditions (in my opinion, at least) is the TV being flooded with Christmas movies, some good, some bad. One of the best of the lot though has to be Home Alone. You know the one, where that young kid, Kevin, gets left at home by his family, and whilst alone, manages to thwart the attempts of two (admittedly, completely inept) burglars looking to rob the family home, by using a series of complex, yet utterly necessary, booby traps. Cue lots of falling over on slippery steps, large nails being stepped on by bare feet and of course, a man having the top of his head set on fire. Comedy gold of the family variety, not topped before or since.
However, being the consummate professional that I am, and not being able to completely forget about work whilst watching this televisual feast, I can’t help but wonder where Kevin’s Dad, Peter McCallister, gets all his money from. I mean, consider the facts.
- The family live in a mansion – not a house – a mansion. It’s so big that Kevin, sleeping in the attic room, doesn’t hear the commotion created by 14 other people frantically (they overslept) getting ready in the same house before leaving without him.
- Not only is it a mansion, but it is also located in one of the wealthiest suburbs in Chicago, Winnetka. Look it up, honestly, it’s really posh.
- The McCallisters are footing the bill for a vacation to Paris for 15 people – 4 adults and 11 children…at Christmas.
- The 4 adults are travelling first class from Chicago to Paris. This, alone, would cost an insane amount of money.
I’ve found myself discussing these points with my six-year-old son who has watched the film with me. He doesn’t really share the same suspicions as I do, he’s far too busy laughing at the bit where Marv has the iron fall on his face.
But let’s get back to the source of wealth. The movie leads us to believe that this is a normal, wholesome, American family. So, maybe Mr McCallister is involved in some sort of criminal activity. Organised crime, money laundering, fraud, bribery, corruption: you name it he’s doing it. Surely, this is the only explanation – or maybe I’ve been working in financial services regulation for too long!
You might be reading this and thinking exactly the same thing. I mean, seriously, how can he afford to pay for these things? Has any source of wealth checks been made? Perhaps his bank has asked about this and simply accepted his explanation that all his money has come from ‘investments’, or ‘business deals’, or ‘an inheritance’. Generic descriptions such as these are not sufficient. It’s crucial to verify the source of the investment/business deal/inheritance as part of any due diligence process, in order to gain assurance that the wealth has not been obtained from any criminal activity.
Here’s some questions to consider when verifying a customer’s source of wealth:
- are you convinced that the funds and wealth can be reasonably established to be legitimate?
- can you independently obtain the evidence of the customer’s source of wealth for higher-risk accounts and relationships?
- are you able to establish the relationship between the customer and the third party where accounts are funded by a third party?
- do you continue asking and persist in seeking clarity wherever the circumstances are unclear or account structures are complex?
The best way to get the answers to these questions and to further corroborate the source of wealth would be through in-depth interviewing, collecting documentary information, and referencing publicly available information.
As the film finishes I can only reflect on how resourceful young Kevin is, and conclude that he may have inherited that resourcefulness from his father. This could go some way to explain how Mr McCallister has got away for so long without any criminal connections being found… or maybe he just won the lottery and decided not to tell anyone.
By the way, don’t even get me started on Home Alone 2….!
Merry Christmas everyone.
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