Love and Money

Written by John T. Ward
Photography by Will Figg

Allen Love Jr.
Allen Love Jr. ’88, MPA ’90

Allen Love Jr.’s (’88, MPA ’90) first job out of the University of New Haven was behind bars.

Just 22 years old and with a bachelor’s degree in Economics, Love was put in charge of a $12 million commissary budget at the Bridgeport Correctional Facility in Bridgeport, Connecticut, responsible for ordering inventory and authorizing payments. It was here that he discovered he had a felonious bent. The scant oversight he experienced in his role got him thinking how easy it might be to defraud the state of Connecticut by creating a fictitious vendor.

"I’m not saying that I’m a criminal. I did realize, however, that I had the propensity to think like a criminal," he says now, with a laugh.

Love can joke because thinking like a criminal has served him well over the course of a 30-year career that has included undercover criminal investigations for the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service, anti-money laundering (AML) work for PayPal, and his current job as Executive Vice President in charge of AML for TD Bank and Co-Head of Global AML for TD Bank Group.

A former captain of the Chargers football squad, Love earned a master’s degree in Public Administration in 1990. Today he serves on the University’s Board of Governors. He spoke recently about his work.

Give us a quick course on money laundering. Is it like the TV show Breaking Bad, where a husband-and-wife criminal team finds themselves with a storage locker piled high with cash they can’t spend?

Absolutely. One of my first IRS cases concerned an individual who was selling drugs up and down the East Coast. And you know what he did? He created a record label. He had one store, and that was his front. When we finally arrested him, we went to eight banks and pulled, collectively, one million dollars from all of the safe deposit boxes.

Money laundering is the end state of a crime that you committed for financial gain. So whether it’s fraud, or a Ponzi scheme, or tax evasion, you have to commit a crime, and then you have to take the proceeds of that crime and make them seem clean.

There are thousands of ways that people try to make their money seem clean. Some of these methods are very simple, and some are very complicated. The more complicated and convoluted, the more I love it.

A recent report estimated that, globally, $1 trillion to $2 trillion is laundered every year. Is it really at that scale?

Easily. And that figure has been around for about the past 10 years, so it’s probably gone up a little bit. But yes, it’s in the trillions.

Erin Snyder ’16, M.S. ’18
Allen Love Jr. ’88, MPA ’90, Executive Vice President in charge of AML for TD Bank and Co-Head of Global AML for TD Bank Group.
What’s your role in AML efforts?

My primary responsibility is protecting the bank and its shareholders from being the victim of somebody laundering money or some type of terrorist financing occurring through our organization.

The secondary piece of it for me and a lot of people who get into this field is the civic duty to catch bad people. Under the USA Patriot Act, you’ve been deputized, whether you want to be or not, in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing.

Do you actually undertake investigations or is it just a matter of noting suspicious activity and then handing it off to the government?

Our job is to provide that information to law enforcement so they can do the investigation. But the reviews that we and other institutions do are quite detailed. When you file a suspicious activity report with law enforcement, you want to give them as much information as you can so they can pick up that narrative and run with it.

Depending on the day of the week, we are either the fifth or the seventh largest bank in the U.S., and I would say we have 300 employees who just do AML. Globally, where I co-head the program, we have over 600 people.

Does your background in economics play a strong role in what you do now?

Yes. Economics gave me the discipline that’s needed to understand the complete picture, to take a macro or micro view of what’s going on in the world.

Key Terms
You mean you need to be able to see the totality of it before you can get into the granular aspects of it?

Yes, because when I’m addressing issues, I’ve got to think strategically. I’ve got to think three, five, seven, 10 years down the road about the policies that I’m going to impact and how they affect the organization.

So, for example, a big thing now is the legalization of marijuana. TD’s a Canadian bank, and our parent organization is in Canada, but we have a large U.S. presence. In Canada, they’re going to legalize marijuana. But what’s the impact to the organization here in the U.S., where marijuana sales are against federal law and most state laws?

Then there are sanctions against countries like Iran, North Korea, and Cuba. TD in Canada can do transactions with Cuba, but TD in the U.S. can’t. You have to have very strong controls in place so that customers aren’t routing money through the U.S., because once somebody in the U.S. touches it, you’ve violated sanctions law.

Has cryptocurrency become a factor in your work?

It has. The concern now is the anonymity. Because who’s on the other end of that transaction? From a money laundering and a fraud perspective, that’s the biggest concern. It’s just anonymous. There’s no central gatekeeper, so to speak.

Given the technology you have on hand or that’s in development — including machine learning and artificial intelligence — is it reasonable to expect that money laundering can be wiped out?

I want to be optimistic and say yes, but I don’t think it can. I believe that as long as there is human nature — greed, people wanting to take shortcuts, individuals looking to take advantage of others — we won’t be able to wipe it out completely. Can we do better? Absolutely. We do not do a good job of sharing information between the private sector and the public sector, and this is globally.

It seems that the challenge gets your blood going.

[Laughs] It does. The challenge is, "Okay, how do they do that? What are they thinking about?"

There are thousands of ways that people try to make their money seem clean. Some of these methods are very simple, and some are very complicated. The more complicated and convoluted, the more I love it.Allen Love Jr. ’88, MPA ’90
You’ve been on the University’s Board of Governors since 2012. What perspective do you try to bring to this role?

My perspective is, "What’s the discipline we need to make sure that we’re doing everything to educate the next generation?" We’ve got to educate the next generation so that when they graduate they have the experience to become productive citizens in society, not only from a working perspective, but also from a personal social perspective.

I think the experiences that I’ve had in my work life and in my personal life allow me to do that. Being an African-American male also allows me to question what we’re doing from a diversity perspective, not only for our students, but also representation among the staff and professionals at the University. I also bring the perspective of having kids. I have a 20-year-old, an 18-year-old, a 16-year-old, and a 13-year-old.

You are a very generous person with your involvement with various not-for-profits. What is your philosophy on giving back?

At TD, I chair our Diversity Leadership Team, where we’re asking, "Who are we admitting? What are we taking into account?" If you’re inclusive, you will be diverse.

I’m on the board of a foundation called Leave the Light On, which was started by childhood friends of mine. It’s a nonprofit that’s really looking out for caregivers and providing services to them so that they can make sure that they take care of themselves.

I also serve on the board of the Urban League of Philadelphia. I believe in their mission of economic empowerment, community support, financial literacy, and education.

What compels me to volunteer is a sense of duty. My life and the things that I have accomplished have been a blessing. So, when I give back — whether it’s participating in events, giving my time, or writing a check — I am fulfilling that sense of duty that I have inside of me as so many have done before me.

More From the Alumni Magazine, Fall 2018