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This context comes from the movie "Heat" by Michael Mann

"Roger Van Zant. Owns banks in the Caymans... runs investment portfolios for offshore drug money. Stuff like that."

My research:

1)money noun:

-persons or interests possessing or controlling great wealth politicians at the beck and call of money (Merriam-Webster)

2)money noun:

  1. A wealthy person, family, or group: to come from old money; to marry into money. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language)

Does Roger Van Zant, according to the definitions above "runs investment portfolios for wealthy people who made their money selling drugs who are located abroad?

Definition for "portfolio" (corporatefinanceinstitute.com)

An investment portfolio is a set of financial assets owned by an investor that may include bonds, stocks, currencies, cash and cash equivalents, and commodities. Further, it refers to a group of investments that an investor uses in order to earn a profit while making sure that capital or assets are preserved.

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    No - drug money just means the money made by (illegal) drug barons. Who are "rich people", but that's not really the point. Feb 7, 2023 at 18:51
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    Someone might say There's some serious money here tonight while standing outside the opera house and noticing how many people turn up in chauffeur-driven limos. And that would be conflating money with the people who have that money. But when talking about an investment vehicle for [drug | serious | old | new-found] money, it's more natural to interpret money literally (that money may be adjectivally qualified, perhaps to identify where it came from, but it's still money). Feb 7, 2023 at 19:01
  • @Fumble Fingers but if I interpret money literally, the sentence from the movie doesn't make sense to me. This is how I would rephrase the sentence: "Roger Van Zant. Owns banks in the Caymans... manages investment portfolios for drug money located abroad. Stuff like that." Does "offshore drug money" make sense to you? "for foreign money" would make perfect sense to me. Can you explain what it means? Feb 7, 2023 at 19:27
  • It doesn't really make any difference - it's the same money owned by the same people either way. You can interpret it whichever way you feel most comfortable with. I just said how I view the usage. Feb 7, 2023 at 19:44
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    Investment portfolios are arrangements into which people deposit money, so I don't have any problem with 'portfolios for offshore drug money', any more than I do with 'savings accounts for spare money'. No need to invoke people. Feb 7, 2023 at 22:03

2 Answers 2

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It could be read both ways, but at some level, the meaning is the same.

Either you read it as "accounts for money that people with money that they earned from selling drugs overseas can use" or "accounts for people with money that they earned oversea to put their money in"

I don't really see any difference between those two paraphrasings, so it is rather impossible to say which one "accounts for overseas drug money" means: it means both.

Absent any other clues, I'd probably assume the literal meaning of money.

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  • I initially thought "for offshore drug money" means that he is getting paid with "offshore drug money" for managing these portfolios for some people. (portfolios are not necessarily money) But I learned from you it's the money paid into the portfolios. What I'm still struggling to understand and what confuses me is the word "offshore" which I assume from what you guys are saying means "located abroad" (e.g like a branch of a company). But I neverd heard someone refer to currency as offshore. I only heard the expression "foreign money". Is this a common way of saying it Feb 8, 2023 at 8:23
  • I edited the initial post and added a definition for portfolios. Feb 8, 2023 at 8:28
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    @StaticBounce - if I live in the UK, USA, Canada, France, etc, and I want to invest or store money outside that country (e.g. to pay less tax or avoid government scrutiny) I can choose to use an 'offshore' bank or investment portfolio. The location of that will be a small nation like the Cayman Islands. The money came from my home country and I am moving it 'offshore' to some small island nation outside my home country's jurisdiction. It is called 'offshore money' for that reason. Feb 8, 2023 at 10:01
  • @Michael Harvey Thanks Michael, this comment made me understand it. I was thinking about it from the perspective of Roger Van Zant and his bank's location in the Caymans and I thought the offshore location was outside of the Caymans :) But you clarified that it's the other way round. Feb 8, 2023 at 12:03
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Stocks and shares are one of the steps in the process of making illegal money gained by selling drugs into money that looks legal in your business accounts (money laundering)

So drugs money literally means the money made by selling drugs.


Money can mean people as in the phrase "oh we are talking old money here" meaning people whose families have been rich a very long time.

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