Coming clean

He issued the apology ahead of his address to the world’s leading financial experts who gathered in Cambridge last week to discuss the threat posed by ‘dirty money’.

It is a rare appearance for Mr Mazur, such has been the nature of his work that few people have knowingly met him in his professional capacity in the flesh and there are no images in circulation that reveal his likeness.

For 27 years he has risked his life on a daily basis to secure convictions of mobsters, a rogue south American general and former executives of a global bank in the City of London – BCCI, which offered laundering services to a colourful array of very wealthy, but corrupt clients who sought to hide their wealth.


Though not a man of the cloth, Mr Mazur’s take on the role dirty money plays in the global bank system will be both uncomfortable and uncompromising for the financial services industry, and delivered with a characteristic air of fire and brimstone. Recent scandals at Barclays, Standard Chartered and HSBC, have eroded the reputations of the City of London, its bankers and intermediaries, placing them at the heart of a global debate over how banks rebuild their reputations and stem the dirty flow of around US$2.1 trillion (£1.3 trillion) that enters the global system each year – of which $400bn (£364bn) a year alone is likely to be drug money.

Flight money, as defined by Mr Mazur, includes that of tax evaders, evaders of customs duties, drug traffickers, arms dealers, those pilfering treasuries, those seeking to evade sanctions to deal with prohibited nations, and the covert wealth of intelligence communities. But it is not just banks that are within Mr Mazur’s sights: brokers, service companies and advisers who buffer the industry provide essential expertise in manipulating the system to enable them to wash dirty money clean.

In the wake of the recent scandals, Mr Mazur said the near addiction of global banks to the liquidity provided by the marketing of dirty flight money has allowed the emergence of the nexus of a global criminal economy that finances the greatest threats to national security both in the US and Western Europe: the cross-pollination of the international drug trade and terrorism.

His message could not be more timely. Mr Mazur said those who doubt the significance of the threat should study a report from the US Oversight, Investigations and Management House Sub-committee that identified a working partnership worth tens of billions of dollars in narcotics, trafficking and financial crime each year that has been forged between Mexican and Colombian drug cartels and Hezbollah, now engaged in the Syrian conflict. And in the UK, Home Secretary Theresa May has hinted that in October she will announce that the threat posed by organised crime will be raised to the status of international terrorism, recognising perhaps that new alliances have flourished worldwide.