More Patriot Act foolishness: tracing money back 53 years

(From Dave Farbers IP mailing list) Art Evans says:

My wife is beneficiary of a trust administered by a reputable bank in New York. Today someone from the bank called seeking information that (she said) was required by the Patriot Act. Well...

Where, I was asked, did the money in the trust come from?

As the bank knows, I said, the trust was established by my wife's mother, Mrs G.

Where did Mrs G get that money? I explained that she inherited it from her mother, Mrs B.

Where did Mrs B get money? From her husband, who pre-deceased her.

Where did Mr B get the money? I said I thought he was a stock broker but wasn't sure. Should I ask my wife? No, that's good enough information, thanks very much. And my caller went away, satisfied.

I can understand that the government could be interested if someone now shows up with a large sum of money. Did that money come from some sort of illegal enterprise. However, Mr B. my wife's grandfather, died in 1953, 53 years ago. Of what possible use could it be to the government to know how he made his money, particularly if (apparently) it's not important if I answered correctly?

Moreover, how much taxpayer money is spent gathering such information?

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Elliott says:

I found your post on the bank calling a man about his wife's trust fund rather ironic, considering that Bush's granddaddy, Prescott was in charge of a company called 'Consolidated Silesian Steel Corporation' that was run by slave labor from Auschwitz during the German occupation of the area. He was put in charge of managing the company and even a portion of the slave labor after Union Banking bought the company from Fritz Thyssen, who was worried about it being destroyed by the Allies. When the Allies released seized assets of CSSC due to the death of Thyssen, all American shareholders quietly sold their shares. Prescott made 1.5 million dollars off of this, and George H.W. Bush, his son, put it into a blind trust fund. Today, that money is worth around 15 million bucks, a good portion of the Bush estate's value.

I wonder what he would say if a bank called up and asked the president about this under the Patriot Act.