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GUEST COMMENT: Have you ever considered the incredibly exciting opportunities in anti-money laundering? Maybe you should

Geraint Anderson

When ambitious young folk look through this website I imagine they tend to skip over the anti-money laundering jobs section (nestled within compliance) believing it to be both tedious and pointless.

What’s more you ‘only’ get paid £40k-£70k a year and people who want to get into finance mainly do so to rapidly improve their finances. Well, I wouldn’t be so hasty; I believe that this specialist job could be about to become a lot more exciting and that anti-money laundering work may well be our next growth market … one of the few within the ‘financial careers’ sector.

As today’s £8.8m fine for Coutts shows, getting anti-money laundering practices wrong is an expensive mistake. A damning report last year from the City regulator, the FSA, revealed that the City is disregarding anti-money laundering rules and offering a warm welcome to corrupt tyrants’ cash. This detailed study showed that a third of our supposedly ‘reputable’ banks are willing to dismiss credible allegations of corruption whilst a quarter were happy to offer services to foreign politicians known to be corrupt merely because the law had yet to catch up with them.

And this report could be the tip of the iceberg. I suspect that when the truth is revealed about how willing City firms have been to deal with the blood-thirsty despots who were deposed by the ‘Arab Spring,’ yet more questions will be asked about the Square Mile’s ‘moral compass’. Indeed, such is my conviction that money laundering will be the next big financial scandal that I have chosen to make it the subject of my new thriller ‘Just Business’ (required reading, of course, for anyone thinking of working to counter money-laundering!)

It is clear that much of the wealth that those charming tyrants who’ve been pillaging Egypt, Tunisia, Libya et al for decades ends up in London. The former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is believed to have invested many of the billions he’d stolen off his people into banks, investments and properties in our great city. Likewise, Libya’s former leader Gaddafi and his family apparently always favoured London because of the ‘ease of doing business’ here and because of our ‘uncomplicated tax system’ (according to Wikileaks).

What seems clear is that our ‘law-abiding’ banks have only traditionally got the willies about dealing with bloodthirsty tyrants when they ceased to be on the winning side. But now it seems that growing pressure from the FSA will mean that this complacency will no longer be acceptable and that is why banks will surely start paying decent cash to attract lots of smart people to counter this growing scourge.

So, don’t dismiss that money laundering post so quickly. Not only will you be ‘ahead of the curve’ in focusing on this growth sector you will also be able to hold your head up high at dinner parties knowing that although you work in the City … you’re one of the good guys!

Just Business by Geraint Anderson is out this week in paperback. To buy it on Amazon click here. Follow Geraint Anderson (a.k.a Cityboy) on Twitter @cityboylondon.

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