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A new perspective on money laundering

Posted by Trudi Smith on November 28, 2019 in News, Research
Sanaa Ahmed (Trudi Smith photo)
Sanaa Ahmed (Trudi Smith photo)

Sanaa Ahmed began her two-year term at Schulich Law as a Killam Postdoctoral Fellow in October. After earning her BA and LLB in her home country of Pakistan from the University of Karachi, Sanaa went on to get her LLM at the University of Warwick and her PhD at Osgoode. 

We recently chatted with Sanaa about her research, and her impressions of Schulich Law and Halifax.

Why did you want to study law?

I always knew that I would study law. I come from a family of lawyers – my father was a judge on the Supreme Court of Pakistan – and all of our conversations around the dinner table were about law and politics. The study of law is so addictive – once you start, you want to know more and more.

What are you working on while at Schulich Law?

My research focuses on the regulations around money laundering in Canada. I’m looking to understand why the regulatory regime is so ineffectual and to investigate whether weaknesses are deliberately baked into the system. I think this is important for two reasons. First, when we talk about stopping laundering, we also need to consider how central this ‘business’ has become to the Canadian political economy – the real estate markets, the financial services sector, the casinos and what-not. The question here is, can Canada do without this money? Second, I think we also need to consider how money laundering regulation feeds financial sector surveillance. Even a credit card statement can tell you so much about a person – what magazines they subscribe to, their political views, if they have mental health issues. Do we really want the state to know so much about us?

Why did you want to come to Schulich Law?

I was drawn to Schulich because of its focus on business law – I’ve studied the law on three continents now and one rarely finds the kind of consistent focus that you see here. The overarching Dal focus on Big Data was another draw but, above all, I was looking for the kind of collegial atmosphere that fosters real scholarly engagement and serious academic research. I love that Schulich Law can host a conference that marries tax law with international trade law and environmental law! Also, it’s so wonderful to see Dean Cameron come around and chat with everyone – you don’t see that at the larger law schools.

What's your favorite thing about Halifax?

It’s such a human-scale, walkable city, and so beautiful. Plus, the people who live here have a real sense of community and ownership – they smile at strangers and help each other out! It’s such a refreshing change from larger cities.