One of the amazing aspects of the anti-money laundering (AML) and countering terrorist financing (CFT) activities of governments and ‘investigative’ journalists, is the complete absence of a serious discussion on the quality of the underlying concepts. Also astonishing is the acceptance of a non-democratic, non-supervised organisation (FATF) making laws.
A strong AML/CFT-marketing campaign is taking place in which the policy makers do not acknowledge the grave problems around the duties that are imposed on the private sector (‘obliged entities’, e.g. banks).
Peculiar is that governmental agencies play an important role in these campaigns. One of the actors is the European Banking Authority (EBA) that today published EBA calls for strengthening the connection between the EU legal frameworks on anti-money laundering and terrorist financing, and deposit protection. Yesterday the Dutch financial newspaper published an interview with the new Dutch EBA-director, Mr. Elderson, Vertrekkend DNB-bestuurder pleit voor deltaplan tegen witwassen en verlagen bankbelasting.
The many articles on AML/CFT-legislation show the complete disrespect for the citizens that are harmed by the legislation. Harm is done to the clients of the obliged entities, like:
- the ‘Accidental Americans’ that are refused bank accounts;
- the difficulties that everyone with an Iranian connection experiences (illustration);
- customer black list abuses;
- the organisations (e.g. in the not-for-profit) that are confronted by impossible and inadequate information requests by compliance departments of the banks.
Harm is also done to the obliged entities that have to comply with one-size-fits-all legislation that is quickly changing and incomprehensible. If banks are evolving into governmental agencies, expropriate them and put them under democratic supervision!
It is time to contradict the gatekeeper-mantra. Let’s start today before more harm is done.