I live compliance officers!!!

I love compliance officers!!!

The world over. Because this is now a basic characteristic on all 5 continents: the banks are no longer run by the bank manager, but by the compliance department. I expect the mother-in-law and Irishman jokes will soon be replaced by „Have you heard the one about the compliance officer…?” I’m afraid these will fall into the black comedy category for me.

During our meeting here at LAVECO Ltd. this morning, one of my colleagues mentioned that the compliance people in one of the European banks couldn’t say exactly what companies they open accounts for. It’s not the first time I’ve come across this. Some years ago, one of the large banks defined offshore companies as „companies which are registered on islands.” Brilliant! Great Britain is an island, but that hardly means that all the companies registered there are offshore companies. And then there’s Australia – practically a whole continent in one country. But I also came across a case where a large Swiss bank didn’t open an account for a comapny from the BVI because, according to compliance „the BVI is too close to America.” After that the same bank opened an account for the same client for a company registered in the Bahamas. I wanted to send an atlas to the bank’s compliance department, but in the world of Google maps and GPS that somehow seemed rather tacky…

But today’s case wasn’t bad either. By the way, they only open accounts for European countries with the necessary licences. On their part, this is a completely transparent definition, and at the same time reveals just how much they know about the system. Generally, the formation documents of European companies allow for a wide range of activities, the majority of which are not subject to licencing requirements. Licences are only normally required for activities which, acoording to the compliance people at least, are considered sensitive. These include, for example, financial services, medical services, employment agencies etc. The majority of banks don’t tend to like these activities. If, however, we try and follow the logic of the bank’s dear compliance team, then if we take a company registered in, say, Hungary, with a licence from the Ministry of Defence to deal in weapons, then this should fit the bill, as it is European and has a licence… So, I take it you understand what I fail to grasp?

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