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Fighting Money Laundering - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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There is a difference between asking “where did you get that from?” and “how the hell did you get that!” The former clearly echoes calls for fighting corruption and forbidding the exploitation of positions and authority for personal or financial gain, whereas the latter, of course, is just banter and is merely hypothetically attempting to fight money laundering.

Bahrain took a very bold step, and one that was suitable for it as a remarkable and firmly-established financial centre with a legacy of respectable government and legislations, when it dismissed one of its ministers after being detained on charges of money laundering (as well as other charges). The investigators in Bahrain set up special bases for information on the man’s movements and meetings and they are in possession of decisive evidence against him.

Such significant development comes at a time when the Central Bank of Bahrain, through its public prosecutor, is investigating, prosecuting and charging a well-known Gulf economic figure for money laundering and fraud. This is evidence that Bahrain has intensified efforts to fight money laundering, the money of which has been obtained from drug trafficking, prostitution, weapons, alcohol, gambling, and counterfeit goods and contraband.

With such a positive step, Bahrain moves from the “hypothetical” domain to dealing with this issue directly, legally and practically. Bahrain believes that by dismissing one of its executives, charging him and “openly” confronting him with the evidence brought against him, it will gain points in the future with regards to its transparency and government rather than keeping secrets and remaining silent, which might be comfortable in the short term but will certainly be costly later on.

Methods of money laundering have evolved with the development of mechanisms for monitoring and uncovering cases of money laundering whether manually or electronically. Consequently, money launderers are now in need of more “suitable” covers that would primarily fulfil their goal of money laundering and, at the same time, win over the sympathy of the public by launching large projects such as [opening] hospitals, schools, universities, associations or even “companies.”

But these “companies” are in fact nothing more than warehouses where equipment and machinery are accumulated without any real purpose or project! Of course, all of this is done in a highly professional manner; media consultancy companies and public relation experts are appointed to “fake” all of this so that they become acceptable to the public and are viewed as a “legitimate” body.

A friend of mine from an Arab country once told me about a dubious character who exploited the death of his son in an accident by using his son’s name for his company so as to gain public sympathy while in fact “his real business was money laundering,” he said.

Bahrain did well to take this recent positive and bold step, as it is a push to raise the level in the way we deal with modern crime.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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