[Dave Birch] While I was frittering away my time trapped on a train parked at West Byfleet the other day by reading the fascinating biography, “Roberto Mancini: A Footballing Life: The Full Story” (Luca Caioli), I came across an interesting phrase. Telling the story of Roberto’s transfer to Sampdoria in 1982, the Bologna coach says that the fans were angry because they thought the fee disclosed for their star forward “The Boy” Mancini way too low. Little did they know that a truckload of buckshee cash had come back back down the highway from Genoa. Hardly surprising given the murky world of football transfers, and hardly confined to Italy (since the same sort of thing was going on here in England at the same time, with bags of cash being delivered via motorway service stations). The reason it caught my eye, though, was the language. The Italian raconteur referred to it as a “Black & Decker” transaction. Why? I can’t fathom it, but if any Italian blog readers know the origin of the phrase please do let me know!

I’m not entirely sure that the Black & Decker transactions are in football’s past, and cash is still a menace corrupting the beautiful game despite recent off-the-field innovations such as KYC, AML and ATF regulations. Incidentally, it seems that football-related persons are not subject to the same stringent AML provisions as mere peasants such as you and me.

Section 5.B is entitled “Foreign Exchange Undertakings” and states that the government must provide for “the unrestricted import and export of all foreign currencies to and from the UK, as well as the unrestricted exchange and conversion of these currencies into US dollars, euros or Swiss francs”.

[From Fifa’s demand to be exempt of UK money-laundering legislation | Football | The Guardian]

I hate to say WTF, but seriously WTF? Why on earth should they even want to import and export unrestricted amounts of currency? Churlish observers might see this as a provision relating to tax evasion, in which case shouldn’t their senior officials be arrested for conspiring to defraud the national tax authorities? Footballers aside, though, I’m sure the AML laws (and the high penalties imposed on non-US banks by the US authorities) have virtually eradicated the problem. I’m sure someone, somewhere, has the cost-benefit analysis for AML, don’t they?

I’ve complained many times about the pointless nature of anti-money laundering laws. They impose very high costs and force banks to spy on their customers, but they are utterly ineffective as a weapon against criminal activity.

[From World Bank Study Shows How Anti-Money Laundering Rules Hurt the Poor – Forbes]

Well, perhaps the problem is that the authorities don’t enforce the AML rules rigorously enough (and, bizarrely, continue to print high value banknotes). Time for a crackdown.

U.S. customs agents will soon start testing prepaid scanners in order to stop money laundering. The device comes as part of a move to comply with U.S. Treasury rules that say individuals crossing the board must declare when they are in possession of more than $10,000 in prepaid cards.

[From Scanning Prepaid Cards At The Border Won’t Stop Money Laundering – PaymentsJournal]

This is in equal measure hilarious and pointless. I have to say, on my numerous visits to the US I’ve often wondered why the customs form asks you to declare if you are carrying more than $10,000 into the US (most Federal Reserve notes, about two-thirds of them in fact, have gone the other way and are unlikely to ever be repatriated) but not whether you, for example, have a debit card linked to an offshore bank account or a bank account in a jurisdiction known for lax enforcement of money-laundering controls and a track record of covering up the movement of funds for decidedly unsavoury characters (such as the UK, for example).

You have to suspect if that if the US customs agents were able to invent some sort of magic box to detect smuggled cash and prepaid cards with a balance exceeding $10,000 then the people who are actual criminals would simply shimmy.

“The Chinese market is really big on money laundering. The good thing about art from that perspective is you can always say I bought it for $100 and now it’s worth $10 million. It’s very difficult to argue with that because of poor transparency of the art price.”

[From Chinese Businessmen Are Purchasing Art To Launder Their Money – Business Insider]

Well, the US continues to print $100 bills while complaining about money laundering, but it’s nice to know that some people out there are taking the problem seriously though.

Switzerland is proposing to ban cash payments in excess of 100,000 francs ($107,500), including on watches and real estate, and wants to tighten the due diligence requirements for banks to prevent money laundering.

[From Swiss to Ban Big Cash Purchases to Curb Money Laundering – Bloomberg]

Did you see that? What a crackdown. They are banning the cash purchase of watches costing more than $100,000. Who says we’re not all in this together?

These are personal opinions and should not be misunderstood as representing the opinions of 
Consult Hyperion or any of its clients or suppliers

1 comment

  1. I’m not sure what your point is here, dave, but you seem to be mentioning only the most petty kind of illegal money laundering. The laws are put in place by the banks, for the banks, then broken by the banks without penalties. This involves much more money than you could physically take through an airport. The scandals break frequently enough but then media attention just moves on.

    And you, Dave with your geek-dreams of a cashless society are directly serving the interests of these criminals. We shouldn’t see the world through google-glass until we are confident that such data won’t be used against us, advertising being the least pernicious of those dangers.

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