Wednesday, April 9, 2014


A columnist in a Cayman Islands publication has taken the radical position that the war on money laundering, like America's previous efforts to ban alcohol sales  between 1920 and 1933, is an abject failure, and it has resulted in increased costs to all, and a loss of personal and financial privacy, and has allowed governments to restrict liberty, and to abuse its own citizens, all the name of money laundering suppression.

The article, The Destructive Effort to Combat Money Laundering, Tax Evasion, and Terrorist Financing, which appeared in the Cayman Financial Review, makes three important points:

(1) AML laws generally only hurt legitimate business; criminal enterprises find a way to operate around, or despite, such laws and regulations, and the law enforcement agencies that seek to enforce them through arrests and indictments.

(2) FATCA has resulted in a wholesale closure of the foreign accounts, of American nationals, everywhere, as foreign banks do not want the headache, and potential civil, and even criminal, liability.

(3) Non-bank remittance services, from the developed to the developing world, have taken a huge hit due to AML/CFT laws.

His solution, and I quote verbatim:

"To many of those who have signed up for the war against money laundering are either
  obsessed with increasing their own power, or have a delusional, utopian vision, where
the rights of the individual, and liberty are not as important as the "collective," the war
on money laundering has failed for the last quarter of a century, because it had not pre-
vented terrorists, drug dealers and assorted criminals from transferring money around the
world.... What it has done is greatly increase the cost of transferring money by innocent
people and businesses, greatly reduced access to banking services for millions, destroyed
personal and financial privacy for much of the world's population, and enhanced the ability
of government officials around the world to abuse their citizens. "

While some of this may be true, if we abolish AML/CFT, then we would need to deal with increased risk of terrorist attacks on the US, and the EU, and I am not willing to let radicals blow up our world. Money laundering laws may not be perfect, far from it, but I will not accept the alternative, which is chaos.

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