Fighting Money Laundering ‘Pirates’

Countries Uniting in Anti-money Laundering Efforts


By BY RICHARD HURLEY, PH.D., J.D., CFE, CPA, AND TIM HARVEY, CFE

richard_hurley-50x50.jpg   tim-harvey-50x50.jpg   Global Fraud Focus 

Global money laundering has been a problem for those navigating international waters with ill-gotten gains since the piracy days of Edward Teach (“Blackbeard”) and John Rachham (“Calico Jack”). Although perhaps not as familiar, British citizen Henry Every (known as “Long Ben” to his crew), was the captain of a pirate ship named Fancy. In 1695, somewhere in the Arabian Sea, Captain Every and his men captured the Indian ship, Ganj-i-Sawai (rough translation: Exceeding Treasure). The stolen loot was indeed an exceedingly large treasure trove of precious metals and jewels, and 500,000 gold and silver pieces. In today’s U.S. dollars, the value of the heist was in the range of $200 million to $400 million.

The heist was successful, but Every and his crew had two problems: 1) The British Privy Council and the East India Company had placed a massive bounty on the heads of Every and his crew. 2) How could they spend the wealth and avoid the hangman’s noose?

Some believe the first problem led to the first worldwide manhunt, and the second conundrum led to the first worldwide money laundering attempt. Every probably made it back to England, but he lost his share of the loot when he transferred it to local merchants who conveniently forgot the transaction.1 So let’s zoom ahead 400 years and talk about today’s Somalian pirates.


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