Publication Date28 Oct 2020
AuthorBarry A.K. Rider
SubjectAccounting & finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial compliance/regulation,Financial crime
The thin line
History and those who make great contributions during their lives are recorded if at all by
those privileged to survive them. Therefore, in the best of times whether an individuals
contribution is applauded let alone remembered, after they are gone, is a precarious process. In
a time of pandemic, the situation becomes even more unpredictable. In recent months, three
individuals who have made major contributions to the development of our understanding as to
the signicance of addressing misconduct and crime through focussing on the wealth it creates
and taints, have passed away. Two were real and dedicated scholars who not only did much to
establish this journal but also made a real contribution to ghting money laundering and
related issues in other and perhaps more practical ways. The third helped to establish the
capability that we have in the UK to ght money laundering.
I have been impressed to see how the study of money laundering and its control has
particularly in the past decade become a real and viable area of research and study in
several disciplines. Although this was very much at the heart of our intentions, when we
established this journal in 1998, given the inherent conservatism, indeed, parochialism of
many in the academic world, I doubted whether we would see the quality and quantity of
intellectual thoughtdevelop and manifest itself so quickly and dramatically. Of course, there
are other major contributorsto this, not least the Cambridge Symposium on Economic Crime
and the pioneering work of a few institutions and in particular the Institute of Advanced
Legal Studies in London. Nonetheless, money laundering as a concept was not widely
articulated until the 1970s.
It is true that there are examples where, for a variety of reasons, people have found it
expedient to obscure the source of wealth and create methods for its covert transfer and
retention. In war and in societies where protection of private property is limited developing
mechanisms for the transferof wealth for business and other socially acceptable purposes is
a sensible response. Those concerned with advancing the interests of their rulers and then
states particularly by nefarious and discreetmeans, needed access to secret money and the
ability to transfer it to where it might be best used. Intelligence and defence security
agencies also recognised that to frustrate the objectives of their competitors, it was
necessary to develop an ability to discover such machinations and disrupt them. Revenue
authorities particularlyin societies where reliance is placed on indirect taxation also needed
to develop an expertise to enable them to identify hidden wealth and as, for example, in
India, with the Directorateof Revenue Intelligence disrupt gold smuggling whichfuelled the
hidden economy. Themore that governments used economic sanctions or becameconcerned
about penetration of their economy by enemiesor those who may harbour adverse
objectives, expertiseneeded to be developed in exposing covert wealth and itsuse.
Notwithstanding the fact that hidingwealth and trying to nd it is nothing new, it is the
case that outside revenue related crime, governments did not recognise the important
contribution that following the cash and discoveringsecret wealth can have for combatting
ordinary crime, until the late 1970s. Of course, the Americans started to appreciate the
signicance of wealth in ghtingdrug related crime in the mid-1960s and had laws which to
a degree were aimed at money laundering in the early 1970s. The real potential that asset
interdiction hadfor attacking enterprise crime was not, however,widely recognised until the
mid-1980s and was not promoted as the nearest thing we would have to a silver bullet
until a decade later. For many reasons, most not really particularly relevant to greater
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.23 No. 3, 2020
pp. 541-543
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-07-2020-107

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