If you haven’t heard Frank Abagnale tell the story of his life on the lam, you probably haven’t ventured to a financial fraud or anti-money laundering conference in recent years, or seen Steven Spielberg’s version of Abagnale’s life in “Catch Me If You Can.” A similar tale comes from Kenneth Rijock, a former bank attorney who found himself living with a narcotics trafficker in Miami — and liking it. Enamored by the scene—lots of girls and dining at the best restaurants — Rijock soon launched a side-career as a money launderer for South American drug lords. “I was traveling to the Caribbean every week, to Europe every month, moving more and more significant levels of cash,” Rijock recently regaled a lunching crowd at Gothamedia’s “Financial Controls and Risk Forum 2008” in New York.
His glib explanation for becoming a career criminal was that he was in it mainly for the women and the parties. “You can see how easy it is for somebody who isn’t solidly grounded in ethics to slip to the other side.” Rijock eventually was targeted by the FBI and went to jail on racketeering charges. Sentenced to four years, he served less than two years in a minimum security prison. His cautionary warning about his time in prison? “It’s boring. There’s nobody trying to hurt you, but you’re bored to tears.”
Rijock is now mid-way through what his employer WorldCheck calls, not the least bit self-consciously, his “World Tour.” Rijock is hitting Rome, Paris, Singapore, Buenos Aries, New York and a handful of other glamorous spots for WorldCheck, which claims 47 of the top 50 global financials as customers of its database of high-risk individuals.
Unlike Abagnale, who collects between $20k and $30k every time he hits the stage, Rijock isn’t a hired gun intended to keep the crowd awake at a dry bank conference. He’s shilling for his employer. Either way, there’s something unseemly about applauding for guys like Abagnale and Rijock as they educate—or is it entertain?—bankers with tales of their criminal activity. It’s hard not to question the real value in having over-exposed former cons aggrandize the very crimes that law enforcement authorities and bank officials spend their days and nights trying to solve. And yet the show goes on.
The Stored-Value Loophole
One of the more interesting and controversial statements at the same AML conference came from Barry Koch, newly appointed svp in the beleaguered compliance department at Washington Mutual. Koch took on the issue of money laundering and stored value cards, saying: “You can move lots and lots of money through stored value plastic without filing a CMIR (currency and money instrument report). It’s a huge vulnerability, and it’s a gap the government should fix today.” Anybody listening? (c) 2008 Bank Technology News and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.banktechnews.com http://www.sourcemedia.com