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20200618 Of unlocking lockdowns and nasty people: My Newsletter

Nigel Morris-Cotterill

Good morning, good afternoon or good evening depending on where you are. Sitting at 101 degrees East, I'm roughly in the middle of the day for half of the world and in the tail end of the previous day for the other half.

That's an example of how we tend to think in a very localised way, even when we are acting on a much bigger stage. But there's more....

One of the things about lockdowns is that they have narrowed our horizons. I looked it up and it's in one of my earlier blog pages. The summary is this - even one month of solitary confinement starts to have an impact on the way the brain works. There are neurological changes that actually make us start to consider that our little box is pretty much the whole world - and telephones or face to face video calls don't fix it: the walls are still there.

We end up with our world being that tiny area that we most inhabit. In my case, that's my study. Here's an example of how easy it is to fall into a routine and forget that alternatives are possible. I have four mugs of different colours but identical design and I have a mat on my desk to put the mugs on. When I want a drink, I don't look away from the screen, I just reach out and pick up the cup then put it back in the same place. Yesterday, all four mugs were in the dishwasher and so I took a different design from the cupboard and, filled with the tar I call coffee, set it down on the mat. When I reached out for it the handle wasn't where it would usually have been - I knocked it over. All because over the past three months, I'd formed a habit.

I say this because there's a knock-on effect: coming out of lockdown is, all over the world, starting to create quite worrying mental health problems. The vast majority of people will try to shrug it off, to work through it, like Marines in mud. Well, all the signs are that this isn't likely to be an effective solution, especially now that there is word of significant infection levels in places where lockdowns have been eased. It was a shock to learn this morning that deaths in some way linked to CoVid-19 in the UK have passed 46,000. I live in a country where our total deaths are less than 120 for a population about 1/3 the size of that of the UK. We locked down hard; the UK did not. We closed our borders; the UK did not.

This raises a serious question that was first raised by the President of Indonesia. Initially resistant to those measures, he said that Indonesians would not do as they were told. Is that why some countries have far lower rates of infection than others? Does it come down to a willingness to comply? No doubt we will find out more as times go by. Incidentally, I have withdrawn the course about CoVid-19 and Beyond. These days there are too many people writing what I wrote in February so it's not worth keeping it on the roster.

Change of subject.

I have a fraud warning that's a bit personal. Some horrible person has copied my son's identity and is using FaceBook, WhatsApp and Instagram to target people and suck them into frauds. The fraudster is using the name William (at least that's what's on the profile we have a copy of). Reports to all three of the above have resulted in absolutely no response whatsoever. My son's stage name is James Yang Yong Kong and it's from that Instagram profile that the stolen material originates.

And now the part you've all been waiting for - the payoff, the bit that pays the bills :)

*How the biggest little bank you've never heard of drove US attitudes to international financial crime regulation of banks.*

This is the story of a bank you might never have heard of. It's how its efforts to build its business in the face of aggressive international competition brought in rogue staff. And how, over a period of years, it was used by some of the USA's biggest financial criminals in a series of spectacular run of market abuse and more. It's also the story of how a tiny foreign bank was prosecuted in the USA while US banks go unpunished in similar circumstances and why that prosecution was at best dubious. Was one small outfit in a larger group sacrificed so its sibling might not be the subject of closer examination?

Finding the original court and prosecution documents in some of this case has been something of a personal crusade for more than 20 years. This month, they arrived in my in-box and I could at last tell the story properly, taken from original sources.

Added today for new and existing subscribers to Financial Crime Risk and Compliance Case Studies at www.financialcrimecasestudies.com

I hope you enjoy one of the most pivotal cases in the history of money laundering enforcement and the early development of US extra-territoriality.

Stay happy, safe and well.

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