Editorial: the price of effective international co-operation

Date21 May 2021
Published date21 May 2021
Subject MatterAccounting & finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial crime
AuthorBarry Rider
Editorial: the price of ef‌fective
international co-operation
One might be forgiven for assuming that during the pandemic and in particular the
lockdown(s), no one has bothereda great deal about money launderingand the industry that
has grown up around it. Although it is true that many of us have focussed on our
perceptions of survival(both professionally and personally), there are those who have seized
the opportunity not only to exploit the generosityof governments and many others but also
to defraud the weak and vulnerable whether in selling them a duff face mask or miracle
blessed oil to defeat the evil virus. I do not intendto attempt to chronicle let alone comment
on such sadly predictable and deplorable opportunism. What is perhaps more relevant and
of interest to readers of this journal andpotentially even more controversial is the impact of
the disruption that has taken place in international cooperation between law enforcement
agencies, and I am not speaking about BREXITon this occasion!
Whether we like it or not China is a player in most commercially and f‌inanciallyrelevant
transactions in the modern world. Although the future relationship betweenChina and the
Westin the immediateto medium term does not look like being characterised by good will
and harmony, the reality of Chinas economicpower is clear for all to see. Chinas leadership
has shown a fondness for usingits economic power to bully others into line. The deployment
of soft power has been well illustrated in recent years in regard to those who deal with
Taiwan in a way that China disapproves of. Historically Taiwan has had a lot to offer
countries across the world, in terms of intelligence and legal assistance. Indeed, until
relatively recently, the Taiwaneseagencies were one of the very few who had any ability to
address serious Chinese organised crime. This, at least at an intelligence level, became all
the more important after 1997 and the gradual redef‌iningof police priorities in Hong
Kong. Although it is now recognised in many circles that the assumption that the Chinese
establishment and triads were if not good bedfellows on speaking terms was at least a
miscalculation, the political history of Taiwan has necessitated a complex and obscured
relationship between government and some perhaps dubious networks. Thus, while not
always as candid and as independent as might have been hoped, agencies such as the
Taiwanese Ministryof Justices Investigation Bureau have been in the main, willingto assist
foreign agencies. Indeed,there was a period under the presidency of Dr Ma Ying-jeou,when
this was extended on a mutual basisacross the Straights to the PRC.
China has for the past 30 or so years been keento emphasise its willingness to assist and
cooperate with foreign law enforcement and in particular judicial agencies. The f‌it, given
Chinas civilian traditions, has not always been cosy, and there are many in western
agencies who distrust at least the conf‌identiality of communications. There is also the
perception that the Chinese Communist Party has a too greater interest in what happens,
and before the most recent crusade against corruption, the threat of encountering corrupt
off‌icials was considered to be too great. For example, in a relatively recent case, an
individual, who allegedly has close associations with the Snakes Head triad and operated
within senior levels of the British commercial, f‌inancial and even political establishment,
was alerted within 20min of a request for information relating to him being received by
off‌icials in Fujian.
With President Xi Jinpings anti-corruption campaign, things have changed and
generally for the better. The level of corruption perceived or otherwise, has dramatically
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.28 No. 2, 2021
pp. 321-323
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JFC-04-2021-259

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