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The Money Launderers: Lessons from the Drug Wars.

In The Money Launderers, Robert Powis provides a history lesson on the ease with which money laundering was accomplished before laws were enacted to prevent it. These laws require banking and other financial institutions to report large currency transactions and suspicious bank account activity.

The author uses actual case studies, investigated by the U.S. Treasury Department, to illustrate the issue. Powis was a deputy assistant secretary of the treasury for enforcement, and has firsthand knowledge of the investigations portrayed.

Unfortunately, the book reads like a police report, which is tedious for the reader. Meetings between agents and those individuals seeking money laundering services and other activities are described in detail. Although many facts are mentioned in the text, no source material is referenced and no bibliography is provided.

The readability of the book would have been enhanced by diagrams, which would have strengthened the understanding of the laundering transactions and the parts participants play in those transactions. This is particularly true for individuals with little or no financial investigative experience.

A glossary of terms used in the book would also have added to the reader's understanding. Terms such as pool account are not normally known by those outside the financial community.

The chapter called "The War on Drugs" is outside the scope of the book. The author uses this chapter to editorialize about his personal feelings regarding the drug policies of the Reagan and Bush administrations.

The chapter called "Lessons for Financial Institutions" is disappointing, as well, because it fails to provide the reader with the anticipated solutions. Nothing new is revealed in the chapter. The author also should have explained further how money laundering is still being accomplished in the United States.

Despite its shortcomings, The Money Launderers is a good historical reference of efforts to halt money laundering activity. It should be of particular value to those who do not understand the reason for the large administrative burden created by the laws and regulations designed to prevent money laundering.

Reviewer: Paul G. Whitlatch, CPP, CFE, is president of Paul Whitlatch and Company, an investigative and consulting firm in San Antonio, Texas. He is a member of the ASIS Standing Committee on Banking and Financial Services.
COPYRIGHT 1993 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Whitlatch, Paul G.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 1993
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