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

Sunday, January 19, 2014


Much has been been made of the fact that Americans who wish to protect their privacy, are flocking to private postal facilities, which are privately-owned and run shipping offices, complete with post boxes, where one can have mail sent. Although I understand the logic behind this trend, especially in light of the disclosures about widespread surveillance of Americans by their government, looking for terrorist activity, there is a problem with the use of private post offices: it can effectively hide the location of criminals involved in white-collar, as well as narcotics, crimes.

If a bank client wants to use a postal box, that is his or her option, but you need, for CIP purposes, a true residential address. Your compliance department should always check the listed address of a new client online, to insure that it is not a private postal facility. Here's how;

(1) Run the address through a search engine; many private postal facilities have websites.
(2) Use a map program, like Google Map. If you zero in on the building, you can generally learn whether it is a residence, or an office building. Many private postal facilities are located in freestanding buildings, or in shopping centers that are easy to identify.

When I, as a young lawyer, represented American, Canadian and French narcotics traffickers, operating in the United States, I saw that most of them availed themselves of private post offices. Some of them actually purchased these businesses, to serve as fronts, and I observed that many of the sellers were also, themselves, involved in criminal activities.

If you find that a client is using a private postal facility, I recommend that you conduct Enhanced Due Diligence immediately, to make sure that they do not pose an unacceptable risk to your bank.

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