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February 28, 2012

Comments

Steve Williams

This one shouldn't be too hard to work out, should it? It's an Asian head of state, current or last ten years, with obvious Al-Qaeda sympathies and a loaded ex-wife. That's gotta be a pretty short list, I'd have thought.

jamie

Well, it's a certain SOB. But I think it's some guy's fantasies made real by the attempts to stop them getting publicity.

john b

Hehe at Jamie. Michael McGurk might be able to shed some light on who we're talking about, if he hadn't been murdered shortly after a business deal with some royal family or other went wrong.

(I suspect it's an interesting mixture of truth and fantasy, with enough truth to be of significant public interest. If I were properly conspiratorial, I'd suggest that Burby was an intelligence plant who'd been deliberately hired to mix up insane salacious nonsense with horrible truths in order to discredit the latter... )

Dan Hardie

Let's see. Imagine I am the (fabulously rich) head of state of a small but resource-rich country and I pay the British Government approximately £40m per annum in order to have a British Army Gurkha battalion plus supporting troops stationed in my country.

I do this in order to deter both my rather aggressive nearest neighbour, who have previous in sending their army into small nearby states, and any more coups d'etat like the one the British defeated in 1961. Let's say that the Gurkha battalion, and the implicit promise of British support if anyone starts shooting at them, is in fact pretty much the mainstay of my internal security and defence policies.

Yes, if I was such a person, the very first thing I'd do would be to throw a few grand at some Al Qaeda cell looking to murder civilians on the streets of London. And I'd make sure that evidence of the same was available to any dodgy businessman floating around my court and acquiring grudges. Makes perfect sense.

Sounds to me like our friend the Sultan has had some rather bad legal advice from his London lawyers: it would have been much better if they'd said 'ignore this loony, and then everyone else will'.

Strategist

>>This one shouldn't be too hard to work out, should it?

>>>> Last night, the document at the centre of the order was still available on the Parliamentary website and could be read by anyone in the world.

C'mon folks, the name must be out there somewhere

Dan Hardie

Precisely which small, oil-rich Asian monarchy that pays HMG for a battalion of Gurkhas can we possibly be talking about? This really isn't a case for Sherlock Holmes.

dsquared

The thing about being impossibly, stupidly rich is that sometimes your money ends up in places where you really don't remember telling it to go, and which can occasionally be horribly embarrassing to you.

Dan Hardie

Maybe. But a certain small, oil-rich Muslim Asian monarchy is, given its history, extremely sensitive about a) possible coups d'etat and b) invasion by its rather unstable and aggressive neighbour. And it's chosen to counter those threats by hiring a British Army battalion, and making sure that everyone understands that Uncle Sam will be happy to back the Gurkhas up if things get nasty.

So, for that monarchy, paying the sworn terrorist enemy of its two most important allies to murder civilians in one ally's capital city, goes beyond 'horribly embarrassing' and most if not all of the way towards 'actually suicidal'.

nick s

The thing about being impossibly, stupidly rich is that sometimes your money ends up in places where you really don't remember telling it to go, and which can occasionally be horribly embarrassing to you.

And the thing about absolute monarchy is that sometimes your extended family and hangers-on end up taking the initiative on things that you really don't remember telling them to do, and which can occasionally be horribly embarrassing to you.

CMcM

the thing about absolute monarchy is that sometimes your....hangers-on end up taking the initiative on things that you really don't remember telling them to do, and which can occasionally be horribly embarrassing to you.

Exhibit A, M'lud.

ajay

I take Dan's point, but let's not forget that the Sultan of Kinakuta (for it is he) is in a very similar position vis-a-vis the British government and its Gurkhas to the Gulf monarchs vis-a-vis the US government and its armed forces, and that hasn't stopped a fair amount of support going to AQ from senior Gulf royals.

But I think a more likely explanation is a combination of these three:
support going from the Sultan of Kinakuta to various Islamic charities of varying degrees of dodginess;
money going from members of his family to businesses or charities with AQ links;
sheer fantasy.

ajay

Precisely which small, oil-rich Asian monarchy that pays HMG for a battalion of Gurkhas can we possibly be talking about? This really isn't a case for Sherlock Holmes.

This reminds me very strongly of the defence company rep who told a colleague "We've signed one contract on this product so far. I can't say which government it's with, but it's a predominantly Jewish country in the Middle East."

Chris Williams

In the C17th or C18th, if a condemned prisoner wanted to delay his execution, one good way to try it on was to claim knowledge of a Plot Against The Monarch. This sometimes led to a stay of execution while the allegations were investigated and found to be baseless, since the Sherriff in question probably didn't want to go down as the guy who let the regicide happen. Worth a fortnight, though. Sometimes.

In the modern world, the equivalent of mentioning high treason is mentioning Funding The Trrrists! It's a good way to get your story, _whatever_ it is, into the news cycle. Especially if what you actually want to do is bolt some additional salacious slander onto your somewhat mundane story in order to smear and annoy your adversary in an otherwise rather boring lawsuit.

So since Businessman X _needs_ to say this in order to get airtime, I suspect that it's not true.

Richard J

This reminds me very strongly of the defence company rep who told a colleague "We've signed one contract on this product so far. I can't say which government it's with, but it's a predominantly Jewish country in the Middle East."

I'm having fun right now with 'working on literally the highest profile building in London.'

dsquared

It could of course turn out to be the case that when he said "funding the 7/7 bombers", this guy actually meant "buying some pirate DVDs", since I have learned from the trailers at my local cinema that these are literally the same thing.

Barry Freed

I'm having fun right now with 'working on literally the highest profile building in London.'

? I feel like I missed something there.

ajay

The Shard, I presume?

Barry Freed

Just missed the context. I get it now (I think). Jeez, my 3PM meeting today should be fun.

Richard J

Yep, ajay. I keep on asking (only semi-jokingly) if I can have a trip up top. Sadly, no.

ajay

That would be my first question too, I have to say...

Phil

I have learned from the trailers at my local cinema that these are literally the same thing.

I assume everyone's seen this.

The interesting thing about that particular claim is that it is based on some research - and what the research actually says is "pirating DVDs, yeah, definitely, the Provos are into all that stuff, all those illegal rackets, they do that stuff like literally all the time, that's what I heard". But since it's written in police-speak it sounds a bit more authoritative.

Cian

But isn't that true of all data on 'black markets'. Much of the data comes from people with a vested interest in hyping it (police, dodgy consultants). Much of the rest is, at best, based upon a small sample size from which the researcher will wildly extrapolate. Double, triple and quadruple counting abounds.

Then you have the bizarre assumptions about business (apparently black market criminal organisations have very low overheads). The inability to think logically (why would a terrorist organisation need to launder money in order to fund terrorist acts).

Normally when you trace most of the claims to their source, there's zero data. So one example that you see repeated everywhere. Apparently it was drug money that saved the world financial markets in 2008 by providing liquidity. The source for this claim. Well some guy in the UN said it was possible...

ajay

Apparently it was drug money that saved the world financial markets in 2008 by providing liquidity. The source for this claim. Well some guy in the UN said it was possible...

Yes, I read that report. It was the head of UNODC, wasn't it? Madness.

The inability to think logically (why would a terrorist organisation need to launder money in order to fund terrorist acts).

I can't see how you launder money through selling illegal DVDs anyway. The whole point about money laundering, surely. is that you start off with a lot of cash from an illegal business and you set up a restaurant or a nail bar or something, with a bank account: then you pay all your drug cash into the bank account and say to the taxman "this is all the takings from my entirely legitimate restaurant". The money then looks legit, and you can move it around the banking system and buy stuff with it. But the cover business has to be legal!

I can see why a terrorist group might want to get into money laundering. Most of its expenses will be legal (plane tickets, chemicals, living costs etc) but it might well have sources of income that are illegal, or that it wants to conceal for other reasons (Sheikh Whatever won't want too clear a link between his charitable donation and all those dead people). But, again, you can't launder money through an illegal business.

Alex

I can't say which government it's with, but it's a predominantly Jewish country in the Middle East

I have been doing this all week. "The client is confidential, but I can say it's an emerging market Asian GSM operator, not ultra-low cost but middle-income, and international makes up over 50% of its voice MoU as many of their customers work abroad. Social network engagement among their customer base is unusually high relative to world standards..."

Cian

Well the argument is/was that dodgy DVDs help finance the IRA/UVF. This is probably true, but then so do protection rackets, drugs, smuggling... There's an even loonier one, which is that dodgy DVDs finance drug gangs. Get your head round that one...

Most of its expenses will be legal (plane tickets, chemicals, living costs etc)

Legal costs are fairly low, can mostly be paid through cash fairly easily and when not are too low to really worry about money laundering regulations (I can buy a plane ticket with a credit card, and you can reimburse me with cash if necessary). Large sums are going to be black market (weapons), in which case who cares. There's a UN, or possibly US (the authors were essentially American), report somewhere that claims that Hamas is laundering loads of money in order to buy black market weapons.

Money laundering is only an issue for successful crooks who need to justify the large house/cars/whatever. Or want to diversify out of illegal stuff into legal stuff. Oddly a big part of money laundering regulation seems to be about preventing criminals from going legit, judging by the rhetoric of some of the major players.

but it might well have sources of income that are illegal, or that it wants to conceal for other reasons (Sheikh Whatever won't want too clear a link between his charitable donation and all those dead people). But, again, you can't launder money through an illegal business.

This is effectively the opposite of money laundering. Taking legit money and making it disappear. Very different process, and not one that money laundering regulations actually address, or are necessary for. Existing fraud legislation is on the books for a reason after all.

dsquared

claims that Hamas is laundering loads of money in order to buy black market weapons

not too implausible - if I were a "legitimate" arms dealer (or for that matter a former-SU defence ministry bod with a truckload of stolen guns), I might definitely want to be paid in clean money, if I wasn't set up to launder it myself.

ajay

There's an even loonier one, which is that dodgy DVDs finance drug gangs. Get your head round that one...

Yes, I've heard that too, and can only attribute it to near-terminal confusion or an instinctive belief that drug dealers are dealing drugs because they are just evil.

Your general point is correct: if terrorist groups are into money laundering, it's most likely because they are also organised crime networks.

Cian

not too implausible - if I were a "legitimate" arms dealer (or for that matter a former-SU defence ministry bod with a truckload of stolen guns), I might definitely want to be paid in clean money, if I wasn't set up to launder it myself.

If you sell weapons illegally the money automatically becomes criminal, whatever its provenance. Given that laundering is a significant overhead, it strikes me as highly implausible that a terrorist group would launder money, so that an arms dealer could relaunder it. Especially as laundered money leaves a trail.

All laundering money is, is providing a legitimate explanation for the influx of large quantities of cash. Selling weapons to Al-Hayat's all night taxi service probably isn't going to provide that.

dsquared

If you sell weapons illegally the money automatically becomes criminal, whatever its provenance.

I don't see this. If I'm a legitimate arms dealer selling to terrorists and I get a clean deposit in my bank account, then I only have to fake the paperwork to make it look like I sold those guns to a legitimate user. If I get a suitcaseful of cash, then as well as an explanation for why I don't have the guns, I need an explanation for why I do have the cash.

Cian

You also have to provide a money trail from the legitimate (fake) customer to your bank account. A customer incidentally who you have to be legally allowed to sell weapons to.

So your terrorist has to not only launder the money, but has to do so into a fake organization that can buy weapons legitimately.

There are easier methods of achieving the same result.

Richard J

It's a social engineering thing, more than anything else - even legitimate businesses will use SPVs in tax havens with deliberately anodyne names on occasion, and if you can convince someone that Targetchance, Inc., a Panamanian company, is really acting for and on behalf of a well-known organization/government, then once you're in the circle of trust of well-known lawyers, accountants and other financial advisors, then that gives you a surprising amount of free rein.

Which is partly why I seem to spend so much of my working day doing client acceptance these days rather than any actual bloody work.

ajay

Well, this is relevant:
Saudi Arabia May Be Tied to 9/11, 2 Ex-Senators Say

WASHINGTON — For more than a decade, questions have lingered about the possible role of the Saudi government in the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, even as the royal kingdom has made itself a crucial counterterrorism partner in the eyes of American diplomats.
Now, in sworn statements that seem likely to reignite the debate, two former senators who were privy to top secret information on the Saudis’ activities say they believe that the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks...

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/01/us/graham-and-kerrey-see-possible-saudi-9-11-link.html?_r=2

Barry Freed

the Saudi government might have played a direct role in the terrorist attacks

You don't say?

Richard J

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2012/501.html

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/QB/2012/496.html

These two cases may be of relevance to this. (Just reading through now.)

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