ON THE MONEY
STUART THEOBALD: Credit banks in war on kleptocracy
Banks are far from perfect policemen. Closing accounts has to be weighed against the benefit, in terms of income, of keeping them open
Years back, when banks were first being forced to combat money laundering, I was sympathetic to the argument that they should not be made to play policeman. Now I am extremely grateful that they were. In some ways, I suspect they are too. It means they are empowered to protect the integrity of the whole financial system, without which their institutions couldn’t exist. It is the banks that are the biggest obstacle to the epidemic of corruption that has infected our country. The criminal justice system has been compromised and is failing us. Banks, both here and in the rest of the world, are taking on the task that they once resented, in flagging transactions and closing accounts that might be linked to corruption. The more effective they are in doing so, the harder life will be for the kleptocracy.The Guptas have been the most public target of banks’ actions but only because the family went public in an effort to use political clout to force the banks to continue servicing them. Whe...