20140206 of trees, forests, sound, a cat in a box and black holes

1500 words on philosophy and quantum physics and how they apply to the decision making process in financial institutions when trying to identify financial crime.

Not a bad morning’s work.


The book on identifying suspicion in money laundering is coming along nicely. Now I have to try to reign in my tendency to find entirely new subject areas to include, write some additional practical stuff and get the thing finished. Two months late 🙁 .

The trouble is that it’s an absolutely fascinating subject. Where else in a text book aimed at banking, insurance and securities professionals as well as lawyers, judges and those that draft legislation would you find Einstein cheek by jowl with Edmund Burke, black holes and the questions of trees in a forest and a cat in a box? And that’s just in one chapter.

I am enjoying this project way too much.

But it’s not only what I find that I can add into the book that’s interesting: there’s lots of stuff that is fascinating that is of no relevance to the book but is nevertheless interesting in a more general context. For example, I was looking around the official records of the UK from 1791 (don’t ask, or rather do ask and buy the book to find out why).

Two things came up: first was that the South Sea Company (that is the company of the South Sea Bubble) paid taxes and duties of about GBP200,000 out of a total government revenue of (I think: the accounts are a bit confusing) GBP15 million. That’s a big disincentive to a government to ask too many questions.

Secondly, the government earned thousands of pounds each year from the sale of commissions in the army, a practice that would be regarded as corrupt today.

Perhaps this is why the book is two months late and there’s still quite a lot to do. Perhaps it’s simply that I keep finding new things to learn and think about, like that robot in a children’s film from the 1980s – was it called Short Circuit? It needed to be constantly fed with new information so it kept repeating “data, give me data.”

Then again, as Edmund Burke almost said, we need to filter the information we use because if we try to learn everything, we end up learning nothing.


When writing a book about “facts” it highlights how often the expression “in fact” turns up in my work. Even though it’s correct, it decreases comprehension. Sobering reality check over my writing style.


I’m having a debate with myself over which makes the better subtitle:

Identifying suspicion of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing


Decision making in AML/CFT SAR/STR reporting

© 2014 Nigel Morris-Cotterill
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