Imagine his surprise

Mulroney’s apparent total naiveté about corrupt international business practices prior to “1996 or 1997” is hard to understand.

Bribery and corruption in international business had been a matter of public knowledge since at least the 1970s. The Lockheed scandal — which exposed widespread use of bribery of public officials to win contracts in several European and Asian countries — led to passage of the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act in 1977, prohibiting American companies from offering bribes overseas. Two decades of subsequent discussion culminated in adoption of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention in 1997. (Canada’s Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act was proclaimed in December 1998.) It is hard to believe that Mulroney would have heard nothing of this, whether as a lawyer, a successful businessman or in nine years as prime minister.

It is all the more remarkable in light of his own involvement, as prime minister, in the crusade against corruption’s kissin’ cousin, money laundering.

For example, Mulroney would have been an attendee at the 1989 G-7 summit in Paris, which created the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on Money Laundering. According to its website,

The Task Force was given the responsibility of examining money laundering techniques and trends, reviewing the action which had already been taken at a national or international level, and setting out the measures that still needed to be taken to combat money laundering. In April 1990, less than one year after its creation, the FATF issued a report containing a set of Forty Recommendations, which provide a comprehensive plan of action needed to fight against money laundering.

And it was the Mulroney government that first made money-laundering a crime in Canada in 1989, after similar legislation in the United States (1986) and Australia (1987). It was followed by passage of the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) Act (1991), which “required financial institutions to introduce a system to keep records and to identify clients in order to preserve financial trails for large financial transactions (over $10,000.)” The regulations went into effect in 1993 — a year that was also significant for another reason:

Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the RCMP and the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA) signed. This MOU called for voluntary reporting of all suspicous transactions that might indicate money laundering activities.

So if his government was taking all these vigorous steps to control the use of, inter alia, cash transactions to conceal evidence of crimes, how could he been so innocent of Schreiber’s possible motives for dealing in $1000 bills? And why was he personally so allergic to depositing the money in a bank account?

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