Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 69, Issue 2, pp 207–226 | Cite as

Policing through misunderstanding: insights from the configuration of financial policing

  • Anthony Amicelle


How does a configuration of policing work regardless of the differences among its constituent members, who may relate to various social fields and range from for-profit organizations to law-enforcement and other state agencies? The article aims at providing some of the answers to this critical question in the light of financial policing, at the interface between the fields of finance and security. With the emphasis on money laundering and terrorist financing, financial policing resonates with other policing configurations that are ‘partly detached from the institutions of the police and start referring to a more general associative practice of assembling risk knowledge, technologies and agencies into networks that govern through rendering and distributing risks’ (Huysmans 2014). The paper argues that everyday financial policing is based on a misunderstanding, as both its current condition of possibility and the fundamental structure of communication between the involved parties. This focus on misunderstanding contributes to question traditional interpretations of (national and/or international) partnership against policing-related public problems. To help understand the paradoxical and controversial productivity of misunderstanding as a sine qua non condition of policing, the article draws on a transatlantic perspective with empirical research in the European Union Institutions, the United Kingdom and Canada.


  1. 1.
    Lascoumes, P. (1986). Les affaires ou l’art de l’ombre: Les délinquances économiques et financières et leur contrôle. Paris: Centurion.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Boy, N., Burgess, P., & Leander, A. (2011). The global governance of security and finance: Introduction to the special issue. Security Dialogue, 42(2), 115–122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Amicelle, A., & Jacobsen, E. (2016). The cross-colonization of finance and security through lists: Banking policing in the UK and India. Environment and planning D: Society and Space, 34(1), 89–106.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Elias, N. (1991). Qu’est-ce que la sociologie? Paris: Éditions de l’Aube.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Quintaneiro, T. (2006). The concept of figuration or configuration in Norbert Elias’ sociological theory. Teoria e Sociedade, 12(1), 54–69.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    De Goede, M. (2012). Speculative security. The politics of pursuing terrorist monies. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Favarel-Garrigues, G., Godefroy, T., & Lascoumes, P. (2009). Les sentinelles de l’argent sale. Paris: Éditions La Découverte.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Levi, M. (1991). Pecunia non olet: Cleansing the money-launderers from the temple. Crime, Law. Social Change, 16(3), 217–302.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Levi, M. (2010). Combating the financing of terrorism: A history and assessment of the control of ‘threat finance. British Journal of Criminology, 50(4), 650–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Naylor, R. (2004). Wages of crime: Black markets, illegal finance, and the underworld economy (Revised ed.). London: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Sharman, J. (2011). The money laundry: Regulating criminal finance in the global economy. New York: Cornell University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Verhage, A. (2011). The anti money laundering complex and the compliance industry (Routledge studies in crime and economics). Kentucky: Taylor & Francis Group.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Coquio, C. (1999). Du malentendu. In C. Coquio (Ed.), Parler des camps, penser les genocides (pp. 17–86). Paris: Albin Michel.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Huysmans, J. (2014). Security unbound: Enacting democratic limits. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Dupont, D. (forthcoming). The global anti-cybercrime network: Mapping the polycentric regulation of online harms. In R. Brewer & L. Chang. (Eds.), Revisiting the interface of criminal justice and regulation: Essays in honour of Peter Grabosky. Routledge.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Trottier, D. (2012). Policing social media. Canadian Review of Sociology, 49(4), 411–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wall, D. (2011). Policing cybercrimes: Situating the public police in networks of security within cyberspace (Revised Feb 2011). Police Practice and Research: An International Journal, 8(2), 183-205 (2007).Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Côté-Boucher, K. (2010). Risky business? Border preclearance and the securing of economic life in North America. In S. Braedley & M. Luxton (Eds.), Neoliberalism and everyday life (pp. 37–67). Montreal, Kingston: McGill-Queen's.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Salter, M. (2007). Governmentalities of an airport: Heterotopia and confession. International Political Sociology, 1(1), 49–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Valkenburg, G., & van der Ploeg, I. (2015). Materialities between security and privacy: A constructivist account of airport security scanners. Security Dialogue, 46, 326–344.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Baudelaire, C. (1930). Mon cœur mis à nu. Paris: Éditions la Pleiade.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Rey, A. (1995). Le Robert: Dictionnaire historique de la langue française.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Servais, C., & Servais, V. (2009). Le malentendu au fondement de la communication. Questions de. Communication, 15, 21–49.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Dumora, F., & Ruppli, M. (2016). Introduction: Les espaces du malentendu. Savoirs en prisme, 5.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Dunning, E., & Hugues, J. (2013). Norbert Elias and modern sociology: Knowledge, interdependence, power, process. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Chabloz, N. (2007). Le malentendu: les rencontres paradoxales du « tourisme solidaire ». Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 5(170), 32–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    La Cecla, F. (2003). Le malentendu. Paris: Balland.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Reiner, R. (2010). The politics of the police. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Amicelle, A., Berg, J., & Chaudieu, K. (2017). Comparative analysis of financial intelligence units (FIUs) in Canada, France, Switzerland and United Kingdom. Brussels: European Parliament.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Favarel-Garrigues, G., Godefroy, T., & Lascoumes, P. (2008). Sentinels in the banking industry: Private actors and the fight against money laundering in France. British Journal of Criminology, 48(1), 1–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Tsingou, E. (2014). The governance of money laundering. In A. Payne & N. Phillips (Eds.), Handbook of the International Political Economy of Governance (Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series, No. 1, pp. 168-183). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Incorporated.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Aradau, C., & Blank, T. (2015). The (big) data-security assemblage: Knowledge and critique. Big Data & Society, 2(2), 1–12.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    Conroy, J. (2015). Global AML vendor evaluation : Managing rapidly escalating risk. AITE.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    European Union (EU). (2008). Revised strategy on terrorist financing. Brussels: Council of the European Union.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Bronskill (2016). Anti-money laundering agency fines Canadian bank $1.1 million. National Observer (Press reference).
  36. 36.
    Bigo, D. (2009). Un espace de liberté, de sécurité et de justice? In R. Dehousse (Ed.), Politiques européennes (pp. 331–352). Paris: Presses de Sciences Po.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Gill, P., & Phythian, M. (2012). Intelligence in an insecure world. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Linhardt, D. (2005). La «question informationnelle». Éléments pour une sociologie politique des fichiers de police et de population en Allemagne et en France. Déviance et Société, 29, 259–272.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Amicelle, A. (2011). Towards a ‘new’ political anatomy of financial surveillance. Security dialogue, 42(2), 161–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Bamford, J. (2012). Privacy and data protection: Are they casualties in the fight against crime? London: Information Commissioner’s Office.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Sahlins, M. (1981). Historical metaphors and mythical realities: Structure in the early history of the Sandwich Island kingdom. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    Le Breton, D., & Profita, G. (2013). Le malentendu: un questionnement. Revue des sciences sociales, 50, 8–13.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Bourdieu, P. (1980). Le sens pratique. Paris: Éditions de minuit.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Lahire, B. (2012). Monde pluriel: penser l’unité des sciences sociales. Paris: Éditions du Seuil.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ericson, R. (2006). Ten uncertainties of risk-management: Approaches to security. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 48(3), 345–357.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Hood, C. (2011). The blame game: Spin, bureaucracy and self-preservation in government. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Power, M. (2007). Organized uncertainty: Designing a world of risk management. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Rothstein, H., Huber, M., & Gaskell, G. (2006). A theory of risk colonization: The spiralling regulatory logics of societal and institutional risk. Economy and Society, 35(1), 91–112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Camus, A. (1944). Le malentendu. Paris: Éditions Gallimard, NRF.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Aust, J., & Purenne, A. (2010). Piloter la police par les indicateurs? Effets et limites des instruments de mesure des performances. Déviance et Société, 34, 7–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Gilmore, W. (2004). Dirty money: the evolution of international measures to counter money laundering and the financing of terrorism. Strasbourg: Council of Europe.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Elias, N. (1978). What is sociology? New York: Hutchinson, London, and Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Hülsse, R. (2007). Creating demand for global governance: The making of a global money- laundering problem. Global Society, 21(2), 155–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    U.S. House of Representatives. (2016). Too big to jail: inside the Obama Justice Department’s decision not to hold Wall Street accountable (Report prepared by the Republican Staff of the Committee of Financial Services, U.S. House of Representatives).

Official Documents

  1. 55.
    Fintrac. (2016a). Law enforcement and other partner. Ottawa.Google Scholar
  2. 56.
    Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). (2012a). SARs regime annual report 2012. London: SOCA.Google Scholar
  3. 57.
    Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA). (2012b). What is the UK financial intelligence unit? London: SOCA.Google Scholar
  4. 58.
    National Crime Agency (NCA). (2016). Money laundering supervision: report suspicious activities. London: NCA.Google Scholar
  5. 59.
    Fintrac. (2014). Fintrac annual report 2014. Ottawa.Google Scholar
  6. 60.
    Fintrac. (2015). Fintrac annual report 2015. Ottawa.Google Scholar
  7. 61.
    House of Lords. (2011). Money laundering: Data protection for suspicious activity reports. United Kingdom Parliament: European Union Committee. London.Google Scholar
  8. 62.
    Information Commissioner. (2011). The serious organised crime agency’s operation and use of the ELMER database. London: United Kingdom Parliament.Google Scholar
  9. 63.
    FATF. (1991). Annual report. Paris.Google Scholar
  10. 64.
    Fintrac. (2016c). Financial intelligence highlights: 2015–16. Ottawa.Google Scholar
  11. 65.
    Fintrac. (2016b). Guideline 4: Implementation of a compliance regime. Ottawa.Google Scholar
  12. 66.
    Fintrac. (2017). Statement from the director of the financial transactions and reports analysis centre of Canada (FINTRAC). Ottawa.Google Scholar


  1. 67.
    De Souza, M., Oved, M., & Cribb, R. (2016). Canada refuses to name bank that broke money laundering rules 1,225 times. National Observer.Google Scholar
  2. 68.
    Berman, D. (2016). Financial watchdog’s fine against Canadian bank stokes uproar over anonymity. The Globe and Mail.Google Scholar
  3. 69.
    Livesey, B., Cribb, R., & Oved, M. (2017). Federal officials feared consequences after intelligence unit protected bank that broke law. National Observer.Google Scholar
  4. 70.
    Nicol, J., Seglins, D., & Niles, S. (2017). Manulife revealed as bank fined $1.15M for violating anti-money laundering reporting rules. CBC News.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of CriminologyUniversity of MontrealQuébecCanada

Personalised recommendations