The Laundry Man by Kenneth Rijock ( Penguin/Random House UK)

Saturday, April 27, 2013


With an increasing number of wealthy Syrians exiting the country, due to the expanding nature of the civil war, compliance officers at international banks that serve a Middle Eastern clientele might want to look a bit more closely at any new high net-worth Arab clients, because they may not be exactly whom they profess to be. As Gilbert & Sullivan so aptly put it, "skin milk masquerades as cream."

 In short, rather than be rejected by your bank, a sharp Syrian PEP will obtain proof of nationality from some country other than Syria, such as Lebanon, or take out a EU passport he may have acquired earlier, to avoid any questions about whether he is unsuitable due to Syrian sanctions. Ask your Arabic-speaking staff to interview him, and ask them to give you the answers to these questions:

(1) What about his language, does he use the vernacular, slang and accents from the country that he claims to be from ? Could he be a Syrian concealing his nationality, or claim to be an expat when he is not ?

(2) What was his former occupation/profession ? Could he be a military man, or the former president of a government-controlled (and sanctioned) company in Syria ? Bodyguards, perhaps ?

(3) Source of Funds and banking references ?

Please ensure that your new affluent client is not a sanctions risk.

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