Senate To Highlight Case Studies of Corruption Tomorrow

February 3rd, 2010

Tomorrow, the Senate Subcommittee on Investigations will hold a hearing to illustrate the problem of money laundering and how the US legal and financial systems help move dirty money in and out of the country. In addition to hearing testimony from officials in the State Department, Immigrations and Customs, and the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the committee will release and examine a report of four case studies where foreign political figures circumvented US anti-money laundering laws.

One such case study was revealed by Global Witness in 2009 in their report The Secret Life Of A Shopaholic, which tracked an official from Guinea ostensible using millions of dollars in corrupt dollars from his own country to buy a private jet, a mansion, and an array of luxury toys here in the United States. He pushed his money into the United States, despite the knowledge of the State Department, through a series of legal and well-known banks. However, State never denied him a visas.

These kinds of case studies provide learningĀ opportunitiesĀ for those already alerted to this terrible problem and a wake-up call for those not yet on board with reformers. I’m hoping that tomorrow’s hearing illustrates this problem to both the public and law makers, and it seems primed to do so. While anecdotes aren’t real evidence, they do a great job of raising awareness and putting a face on big problems.

One last thought: I think that what this hearing may best accomplish will be to demonstrate to lawmakers that there is low-hanging fruit in the money laundering world that our system can immediately correct and prosecute. Instead of corrupt foreign officials being case studies of failure, we can turn them in to examples for future criminals to be afraid of.

Written by EJ Fagan

Follow @FinTrCo