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
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.
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.
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
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,
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.