Cheek by Jowell

Know what the real problem with Tessa’s troubles is? It’s that the story’s landed on the political desk instead of the financial desk.

The story’s a juicy one: a UK cabinet minister doesn’t think to ask about why her husband needs to raise a £350K mortage on their home, then pay it back a month later. I believe Jowell genuinely trusted her lawyer husband and made a pact not to speak of such matters; she’s never struck me as corrupt, even if (like all the Blair babes) she’s not really up to the job intellectually. But we’ve got the wrong kind of journalist here.

The structure of the alleged scam – raising a legitimate loan, then bringing offshore funds in to pay it off, thus having a believable reason to move large sums of money – is a variant on a classic money laundering scheme. So why haven’t I seen the term ‘back-to-back loan’ used in any of the thousands of column inches this story has generated? The method’s been around since Meyer Lansky and the Mob got started.

Throw this one over to the financial desk, political journalists: it’s not for you.

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