by D.J. Webb
Personally, I do take cash. I love it. I wish I had sacks of it. Unlike those shops that refuse £50 notes, I would take bags stuffed full of them. No one has ever given me bags of £50 notes, but it is not for want of my trying to persuade them. Cash is king, for me, at any rate.
What is this nonsense about money laundering? Such laws are a nuisance for the law-abiding. If the authorities really wanted to check into money laundering, all transactions over £1 million in the London market involving Greek, Russian, Chinese or Arab money could be looked into. It seems absurd for smallish transactions to require reams of documentation, under the pretext of anti-money laundering, and my presumption is that the authorities are really interested in preventing us from collapsing fiat money by keeping our money under the bed.
I’ve been reading an interesting thread on the House Price Crash forum about imperious behaviour by lawyers, supposedly working for you for a fee, questioning the provenance of your money. They insist on checking line by line through years of bank accounts to determine the source of your money, but it seems totally wrong for a private person—not even a court—to look through your bank account in this way. Even worse, the presumption of innocence is totally removed, contrary to English Common Law.
The way money laundering laws should work is that the state investigates your financial affairs only after arresting you for a crime: in other words, “reasonable suspicion” of some kind of financial crime should exist, allowing for your arrest, and only then could the fishing expedition into your bank account take place. A certain amount of evidence should be required before any of this happens.
Why can’t you buy a house with used fivers? or with unused fivers, for that matter? Money is money, after all. Anecdotally, gypsies do indeed buy houses and cars with used fivers, and no one raises an eyebrow, but maybe they use law firms known to them. I’m starting to think gypsies are the ultimate libertarians.
EU law apparently requires due diligence on all transactions over €15,000. Banks are asked to enquire about the source of more than £3,000 deposited in one transaction if the customer is not known to them. Such small sums cannot really be a genuine focus of money-laundering concerns. Why are little old ladies quizzed on bringing £3,000 from under their mattresses into the bank, when Russian oligarchs buy houses for millions, with no questions raised? The salaries of Chinese officials are very low, and yet Eton and other schools allow them to send their children to their schools—it is not just possible, but a certainty that most of such money is of dubious origin. If we were really concerned about money laundering, there would be a better way of preventing it than controlling transactions involving £3,000.
It is now possible in the UK to see your money refused by the banks. Take £10,000 in cash to the bank, and they will not accept it. I kid you not, even though the banks are seeking to improve their capital ratios. Apparently, even the record of a withdrawal is not sufficient to show the origin of money. The Law Society gives this advice to solicitors handling money:
Where cash is involved it becomes more challenging, as a bank statement showing a large withdrawal does not mean that the cash the client is now in possession of was actually the money withdrawn. [Link]
To my mind, record of a withdrawal is sufficient proof of the origin of money. How else could it be proven? Money-laundering laws should not be used to prevent the use of money. In fact, there is no such thing as money laundering. The only genuine interest of the state is in preventing theft, armed robbery, and the like. It seems likely that such laws inconvenience the innocent, without preventing financial crime.
“Money laundering” is an impertinence. In truth, HMRC is a money-laundering organisation. The money they pay to themselves in wages has been purloined from the public by demanding money with menaces. The state exists to effect financial crime. Without it, the state could hardly exist.
I can only reach the view the real purpose of money-laundering laws is to prevent the widespread depositing of cash under mattresses, particularly as interest rates on bank deposits are now only slightly above zero. This reminds me of the unjust laws introduced in the US in the 1930s preventing private holding of gold. In Cyprus, residents are now realising the true significance of money-laundering laws, with bank holidays and depositor “haircuts” restricting access to their cash. If a new depression engulfs the world, money-laundering laws will ensure we all go down with the banks.