Show Me the Money… a great piece in The Australian this weekend (p9, The World, April 6-7, 2013) about corporate fraud and money laundering confirming what a lot of characters in my novels say – that crime and fraud is the world’s biggest business. The figure being touted by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (an organisation new to me) is $US 32,000,000,000,000 – yes, that’s right, 32 Trillion.
This tidy sum, which would go a long way to solving the World’s Financial Crisis has been amassed over thirty years by a lot of bad guys: bankers, lawyers, accountants; along with politicians – no surprise there – drug lords, arms dealers, con-men and fraudsters… all aided and abetted by the aforementioned bankers, lawyers and accountants.
What interesting though is the naïve surprise expressed that places like the British Virgin Islands are helping criminals. I was investigating this stuff in the eighties and BVI and the Caymans and the Netherlands Antilles were all doing a roaring trade. Nothing has happened in the last thirty years to diminish it; quite the opposite. While we ordinary folk have to prove our identities to any jumped official who demands it… the bad guys flout the rules easily.
All my novels including Money for Nothing have a background of corporate fraud, money laundering and bent banks, not only because the people involved in these things are so dirty but also because they don’t hesitate to have people killed. When you are protecting half a billion dollars, spending ten thousand on a hit-man to eliminate awkward investigators is really just a minor expense – it’s the cost of doing business.
What has moved on in thirty years is the ease by which the bad guys accumulate the ill-gotten gains. WA’s very own spectacular fraud, Firepower is featured in The Australian’s piece. Yet even before the story of ‘Australia’s Biggest Fraud’ (by which they mean Australia’s biggest uncovered fraud – up to now) broke, those of us who had been even halfway round the block were smelling something dodgy.
A pill to lower fuel consumption and reduce emissions… an offshore holding company… big names beyond reproach associated with the company… the promise of millions in sports sponsorship? It looked like a con; acted like a con; smelt like a con – yet for years no one in authority thought it was a con. And when the authorities did catch up – thanks to a free and unfettered press, please note – the money had disappeared. Now it’s part of that $32 trillion.
Nice one. Just another example of Money for Nothing