The cost of not wanting to know – the professions, money laundering and organised crime

Author:Kenneth Murray
Position:Forensic Accountancy, Police Scotland, Glasgow, UK
Pages:218-229
SUMMARY

Purpose This paper aims to advocate the development and re-emphasis of “epistemic virtue” in relevant professional ethical codes so that attention is re-focussed on the responsibility of relevant professionals to close windows of opportunity for financial wrongdoing and money laundering that are left open through the widespread practice of “wilful blindness”. Design/methodology/approac... (see full summary)

 
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The cost of not wanting to know
the professions, money laundering
and organised crime
Kenneth Murray
Forensic Accountancy, Police Scotland, Glasgow, UK
Abstract
Purpose This paper aims to advocatethe development and re-emphasis of epistemic virtueinrelevant
professional ethical codes so that attention is re-focussed on the responsibility of relevant professionals to
close windows of opportunityfor nancial wrongdoing and money laundering that are left openthrough the
widespreadpractice of wilful blindness.
Design/methodology/approach This study is an exploration of the duty to knowor nd out in the
accountancyprofession via discussion and illustration of how failures in this eld contributed to the nancial
crash; a relation of these failures to seek the truthto the conceptof epistemic virtue; and a discussion of
how a lack of epistemicvirtue is a necessary condition for the successfulpractice of money laundering.
Findings This paper considers the case for establishing a new framework for recalibrating the
professionalethic model so that the primacy of outward looking attitudesto knowledge is re-established at the
heart of professionalethics.
Research limitations/implications The paper advocates the adoption of specic training on
outward lookingepistemic values in all nancially related professional bodies.
Practical implications Review of ethical standards in the professionsis required to ensure epistemic
virtuesare given due weight and prominence within them.
Social implications The accumulation ofcriminal capital under legitimate guises by seriousorganised
crime requiresposes an ongoing threat to the integrity of economic markets.A key step to improving defences
againstthis threat is the elevation of epistemic virtue in the professions.
Originality/value To raise awareness and prominence of epistemicvirtue as a necessary component of
professionalintegrity.
Keywords Money laundering, Epistemic virtue, The professions
Paper type Viewpoint
Introduction
The global nancial crisis of 2008 exposed an attitude to knowledge throughout nancial
services which proved calamitous. This attitude was not only connedto opportunistic and
unscrupulous tradersbut also professionals whose service offeringwas delivered and costed
on the basis that it embodied obligations of condence and trust traditionally associated in
the public eye with those claimingprofessional status. The reasons why that happened can
be explained in facile termsby a collective inability to exert professional judgementagainst
prevailing perceptions of commercial advantage, which ultimately turned out to be false
perceptions. A recent study has contended that to blame it all on greed is to misrepresent
what occurred, because at core, the principal reason for what occurred was a lack of
competence, not in terms of capabilities or technical expertise, but in terms of ability or
The views expressed are those of the author alone and should not be read as representing those of
Police Scotland.
JFC
25,1
218
Journalof Financial Crime
Vol.25 No. 1, 2018
pp. 218-229
© Emerald Publishing Limited
1359-0790
DOI 10.1108/JFC-11-2016-0071
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/1359-0790.htm

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