Friday, February 15, 2008

Every one a suspect these days

My second Lent Lecture today, to an even smaller handful than last week. Is anyone downloading the talks? I haven't the courage to look at the web statistics.

Spent an hour in the bank, setting up a charitable giving account for CBS Ltd's Diverted Giving scheme, filling in a long questionnaire, checking identities, registering passwords. Twice, because the bank clerk got advised of the wrong form the first time.

The Financial Services Authorities anti-money laundering regulations are a straight-jacket of distrust. If you can't comply with their information criteria, they won't take your money and make a profit with it for themselves, (with a little bit of interest for you, maybe). How noble of them. How irritating.

We're all equally suspect under the regulations. It's supposed to be reasonable precaution, but it's really quite ridiculous - like the supermarket which refused to sell alcohol to a pensioner who refused to prove his age. Compliance gone mad.

Unless of course, you are very rich, when you can pay someone else to jump through the hoops prove who you are, and how worthy of the bank's attention you may be. Even then, amazingly, it seems banks can still get it wrong and fail to spot rich bad guys. The poorer of us just have to wait until we've been processed.

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