You cannot make this up. So much for that rule of law thingie. Hat tip Guido Fakwes via Richard Smith:
This was the argument used to justify giving Members of Parliament and their families a free pass from money laundering. Note that the Daily Mail clearly signals its skepticism in this story from January:
Britain’s banks have been accused of hounding MPs’ children, parents, grandparents and even in-laws in a crackdown aimed at curbing fraud by corrupt African dictators.
They have threatened to shut the bank accounts of MPs and their relatives – on suspicion of being linked to terrorism and international money laundering.
And up to 150,000 people – those with any family link to all national and local politicians, civil servants, Army officers, City workers, financiers and diplomats – could have their money seized.
That is the remarkable claim made by senior Conservative MP Charles Walker.
He led a Commons debate last Thursday to demand action to stop ‘heavy-handed’ British banks using new international anti-money laundering rules to threaten people who happen to be related to someone in public life…
Mr Walker said last night: ‘It is ridiculously heavy-handed for banks to treat British MPs and their families in this aggressive way. They should be targeting crooked despots and dictators, not MPs’ grannies.’
Ahem. I consider myself to lead a sheltered life. Even so, I know two people personally who were charged with securities fraud, and both used relatives to perpetrate it, one a cousin, the other a mother-in-law. To act as if it’s unreasonable to investigate relatives is barmy. As a normal retail customer, I find it remarkably cumbersome to transfer money overseas when I want to pay someone who writes for the site. If I were in the UK and in a similar position (needing to wire money abroad from time to time and made to go through all kinds of hoops to do so), I’d be particularly upset at the double standard. Needless to say, the commentariat at Guido Fawkes is none too happy.
Osborne accepted the amendment to the “Bank of England and Financial Services Bill”.
Update 6:20 AM: Guido Fawkes is mixed as a source, but our Richard Smith vetted this story. In case you have any doubts re veracity, The Mirror now has an article up. Key section:
The Chancellor has caved under pressure from influential Tory Charles Walker, who last week refused to reveal his tax returns
George Osborne has agreed to make MPs exempt from anti-money laundering checks under pressure from moaning Tory backbenchers.
Tory MP Charles Walker claimed MPs and their families were being treated like “African despots”.
MPs appear on automatic watch lists of “Politically Exposed Persons” (PEP), used by banks to prevent money being funnelled into criminal gangs or hidden in offshore tax havens.
It means MPs and their families could be subject to extra checks on their bank accounts.
But the Chancellor said banks could go too far and become “disproportionate.”
Ministers will now move to exclude MPs from the watch lists in the forthcoming Bank of England bill.
Mr Osborne caved under pressure from influential Tory backbencher Charles Walker, who has been pressing for the change for some months.
Mr Walker, who chairs the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, last week threatened to table a bill banning curtains if he was forced to publish his tax returns.