Also, giving credit to Deep Throat who said to Bob Woodward, “Follow the money” made famous during President Nixon's Watergate investigation.
Borrowing from both, “it’s the money, stupid” makes a good caption for the cartoon that has been playing out in the, now ex, New York governor fiasco.
It has always been the money that gets people in trouble. Apparently, that is what snagged Elliot Spitzer.
Before I started my own company in the 80’s, I worked for a big bank for about twelve years. During that tenure, there was a major push by the government to try to curb the growing illegal drug business.
It was called “The War on Drugs.” A better name would have been, The War on Drug Money.
It is always the cash, as Mr. Profound Gullet said. Think Al Capone and the IRS. His St. Valentine’s Day message to Bugs Moran in 1929 notwithstanding, they got him for not paying his taxes. It’s the moola, always!
In the 70’s the government started requiring banks to report on cash transactions. It was called the Bank Secrecy Act or Currency and Foreign Transactions Reporting Act.
Most of us at the bank called it the money laundering law. In the early days it was a paper report sent to the IRS.
Today most people know that the cutoff was a $10,000 cash transaction.
A $10,000 cash movement in itself would not garner so much attention alone.
Think of all the businesses that could deposit that much money. K-Mart and WalMart would have it in an hour. Even the dry cleaner on the corner could have $10,000 from time to time. It is the unusual transaction that could get attention.
There was a lesser known part of the government’s Bank Secrecy Act. There was a log, Monetary Instrument Log, required on cash purchases of monetary instruments, like money orders, cashiers checks and traveler’s checks which total from $3,000 to $10,000.
In addition, there was an almost obscure part of that War, the Suspicious Activity Report.
It said a bank must report suspicious cash transaction of any amount. Tellers were given much training on this. Today there is a software program that does the “watching.” And it is intra-bank.
If you open accounts in two or three banks, deposited cash in one, then wrote a check to another, withdrew cash and deposited to yet another, moving cash around, even if they were small amounts, someone would probably be at your door.
Elliot Spitzer is a wealthy man, reported to have millions. He has old money. $80,000 over ten years, while seems like a lot, is not much to draw attention to itself within that volume of money. Still, the program works. It got him.
So, Elliot, the next time you want to launder something, try quarters at the Laundromat. It might be “beneath” you, but it won’t be illegal.