The Cross-Colonization of Finance and Security through Lists: Banking Policing in the UK and India

By Amicelle, Anthony; Jacobsen, Elida Ku | Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, February 2016 | Go to article overview

The Cross-Colonization of Finance and Security through Lists: Banking Policing in the UK and India


Amicelle, Anthony, Jacobsen, Elida Ku, Environment and Planning D: Society and Space


Abstract

Targeted financial sanctions regimes and regulations on 'dirty money' put banks on the front line in securing financial circulation. This is the context in which banking actors face the challenge of juggling with hundred of sanction, watch and regulatory lists. In light of that list mania for banking policing, list appears to have become the security device of choice in the everyday life of the financial industry across the world. Instead of reducing the complexity of security-finance dynamics to a zero-sum game (securitization of finance vs financialization of security), the article rather aims to question the critical role of lists in the cross-colonization of finance and security. Drawing on empirical research in the United Kingdom and India, the article adopts an 'analytics of devices' to think of and analyse banking policing practices through the instrumentation that makes these practices possible and stable over time. It argues that banking appropriation of security lists both (re)configures lists 'social identity' and banking actors' power-relations in the fields of finance and security. Ultimately, the analytical focus on lists appropriation sheds new light on what securing circulation means in finance.

Keywords

Security device, financial security, list, targeted sanctions, anti-money laundering, counterterrorism

Introduction

Screening lists? With our own intelligence systems, at the moment we run 35 pages of names of lists, twelve lists on a page, and that's just the titles of the lists. (1) Targeted sanctions regimes and regulations on 'dirty money' put banks on the front line in securing financial circulation. This is the context in which banking actors face the challenge of juggling with hundreds of lists. With regards to targeted financial sanctions, they are legally required to comply with asset-freezing mechanisms.

The US Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the European Parliament, the United Nations, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), among others, issue lists of thousand of entries (companies, countries, vessels or individuals) for which financial transactions must he blocked. (FircoSoft, 2014a: I)

With regards to money laundering and terrorist financing regulations, they must implement what is colloquially termed KYC ('know-your-customer') programme. KYC includes procedures for customer acceptance, customer identification and on-going monitoring of business relationships, in particular with 'high-risk customers' such as individuals falling under the category of 'politically exposed persons' (PEPs). (2) There is no official registry of PEPs but commercial companies make and sell 'PEP lists' for banks that may consist of over 1.3 million entries in 240 countries and territories. (3) They also supply business services for monitoring over 400 sanction, watch and regulatory lists. (4)

In light of that list mania for banking policing, list appears to have become the security device of choice in the everyday life of banking industry across the world. This state of affairs may lead to different, sometimes contradictory assumptions about current connections between fields of finance and security that both 'share a claim to universal applicability in (all) other social spheres, resulting in various forms of financialization and securitization' (Boy et al., 2011: 115).

On the one hand, lists proliferation can be interpreted as another kind of securitization of the financial system inasmuch banking activities are rendered and governed as security problems (Amicelle, 2011; Langley, 2013). Financial circulation has become subject to further control and surveillance in the name of national and international security, especially for the protection of states against 'terrorist networks'. More generally, the global banking and financial crisis has been increasingly phrased as a threat to national security, both in the United States and across the European Union (De Goede, 2010). …

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