ML Terms and Concepts News

Money Laundering 101: Willful Blindness

Welcome to topical post 2: “Willful Blindness.” Last time, we learned that an integral component of the definition of money laundering is the “knowledge” that the money is of illicit origin. However, in the United States (and other jurisdictions around the world), the concept of willful blindness now can be employed by law enforcement.

For those of you old enough to remember “Hogan’s Heroes,” Sgt Schultz with his “I know nothing” is the epitome of willful blindness. He would totally disregard all facts and circumstances around him, preferring to live in his world where there were no problems, no issues.

But with money laundering and the concept of willful blindness, if even a cursory view of the facts and circumstances could lead one to believe that the money being dealt with is illegal money, it is the same as “knowing” that it is illegal money.

This concept can have far-ranging effects, from tellers who don’t question the circumstances of dubious deposits from “friendly” or “best” customers to major corporations like General Electric, Bell Helicopter and Phillip Morris who all were unwittingly involved in money laundering on an international level. Time, fines and forfeitures (plus hefty legal bills) can await those who do not remain vigilant.

Next time, I will discuss some of money laundering’s potential effects on society.

Until then, thank you for reading.