One of the most critical questions that has to be asked in light of yesterday's revelation that among the banks providing banking and asset amangement services for Libya were Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Citigroup, is just how did Libya get an exemption for anti-money laundering provisions both in Europe and the US. Oddly enough, this future mainstream debate arises not in the US, where any form of critical thinking appears to be immediately curbed by SEC Rule 201 (for all those calling for a hike in the SEC's budget, we suggest the following contrarian thought experiment: let's cut its budget to zero and see how long before anyone notices) , but out of the UK, where a reader writes in to the FT (oddly enough, partially owned by the Libyan Investment Authority) with the following very simple question: "It seems to me entirely implausible that Col Gaddafi could have earned billions of dollars through legal means. And yet if the AML procedures, to which we are all subjected, have not been applied rigorously to the likes of Col Gaddafi and his family, one is forced to ask what purpose they really serve." Or what purpose any regulation serves in general when fraud results in surging stock prices, and companies that adhere to the rules are promptly wiped out in this bizarro capitalist world.
From the FT:
Sir, I read with interest the news that the UK government is freezing billions of dollars in assets belonging to Muammer Gaddafi and his family. I would also be intrigued to know whether the banks and other financial institutions handling these assets have applied the same anti-money laundering (AML) procedures to these assets as are applied to every other “normal” banking client in the UK.
I am less interested in whether Col Gaddafi and his family were able to supply passport copies and utility bills but more interested in what evidence they were able to present as to the source of the funds.
It seems to me entirely implausible that Col Gaddafi could have earned billions of dollars through legal means. And yet if the AML procedures, to which we are all subjected, have not been applied rigorously to the likes of Col Gaddafi and his family, one is forced to ask what purpose they really serve.
Charles L.M. Horner,
h/t Dylan Grice and Lizzie