In this series host Stephen Platt, interviews key figures in the world of financial crime prevention and examine successes and failures in the global fight against money laundering and related crimes including drug trafficking, bribery and corruption, sanctions evasion, human trafficking and tax evasion.
In the most recent episode of the AML Talk Show, host Stephen Platt was joined by Jonathan Benton, CEO of Intelligent Sanctuary. Below is an excerpt from the transcript.
Your answer actually on one interpretation is extremely frightening. I guess we have seen this, I mean, this was certainly hinted at by the prime minister in responding to criticisms about the government’s really rather slow response in the imposition of sanctions against certain oligarchs, it was clear that the government was nervous that it didn’t have its ducks in a row and that it would be put at too enormous cost in the event that it sanctioned these individuals without, as it were, due cause. Now that’s another example. Just to clarify, what you are saying is that there is an inequality of alms so the question is how can that be redressed? I mean, in the US I don’t think we hear that given as an excuse. I’ve never heard anybody in the United States say, “Well, the reason that financial institutions or individuals within the sector engage in this bad behavior is because frankly they’re not afraid of the authorities.” In fact, it’s quite the opposite in the United States. Is the answer that we simply just need to enjoin the government to spend a great deal more money in this area?
I almost think sometimes the crude answer is yes, throw money at something, at a problem and hope that it fixes it, but the more sophisticated approach is to look at the systemic problems that are woven into these institutions that therefore lead to this growth in the gap in the inequality of alms as you put it. I mean, just from the basic financial … if you look at a partner in a Magic Circle firm, an equity partner and what they will earn and what they will hold in equity in the firm versus what perhaps a case lawyer in the SFO would earn, there’s such a huge disparity. Huge. I mean, sometimes … I know because I’ve employed lots of people, have looked at pay bands, everything, all the way, 10 times plus difference in salary. Even if you’ve got, say, the very best financially driven, how do you bring them into the private sector? Into the public sector, sorry.
I think that goes right across the whole investigation piece and everything. We’ve got a financial services sector that frankly pays most of its staff, particularly in the financial crime space, very well. Certainly the more experience you have, your remuneration can be very good. The public sector, my investigators, they might have gone up a bit, but they were on £35,000 a year. You’ve got PAs in the city earning twice that and you’re just not going to retain people. There is a financial bit here, but I think there’s also a much more broader, as I say, sophisticated issue here which actually… I look at the US, I’ve got many, many friends in the DoJ, they’ve got a much higher churn, when they leave they leave with a huge amount of respect and are literally snapped up immediately by the very best firms and taken into positions where they can earn the salaries that their experience demands. You don’t tend to see that quite as much in the UK.
You can also listen to the episode with the full transcript here.