What is ‘Anti Money Laundering – AML’
Anti money laundering refers to a set of procedures, laws and regulations designed to stop the practice of generating income through illegal actions. Though anti-money-laundering laws cover a relatively limited number of transactions and criminal behaviors, their implications are far-reaching.
The money laundering cycle can be broken down into three distinct stages; however, it is important to remember that money laundering is a single process. The stages of money laundering include the:
- Placement Stage
- Layering Stage
- Integration Stage
The placement stage represents the initial entry of the “dirty” cash or proceeds of crime into the financial system. Generally, this stage serves two purposes: (a) it relieves the criminal of holding and guarding large amounts of bulky of cash; and (b) it places the money into the legitimate financial system. It is during the placement stage that money launderers are the most vulnerable to being caught. This is due to the fact that placing large amounts of money (cash) into the legitimate financial system may raise suspicions of officials.
The placement of the proceeds of crime can be done in a number of ways. For example, cash could be packed into a suitcase and smuggled to a country, or the launderer could use smurfs to defeat reporting threshold laws and avoid suspicion. Some other common methods include:
|Loan Repayment||Repayment of loans or credit cards with illegal proceeds|
|Gambling||Purchase of gambling chips or placing bets on sporting events|
|Currency Smuggling||The physical movement of illegal currency or monetary instruments over the border|
|Currency Exchanges||Purchasing foreign money with illegal funds through foreign currency exchanges|
|Blending Funds||Using a legitimate cash focused business to co-mingle dirty funds with the day’s legitimate sales receipts|
This environment has resulted in a situation where officials in these jurisdictions are either unwilling due to regulations, or refuse to cooperate in requests for assistance during international money laundering investigations.
To combat anti money laundering and other international impediments to effective money laundering investigations, many like-minded countries have met to develop, coordinate, and share model legislation, multilateral agreements, trends & intelligence, and other information. For example, such international watchdogs as the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) evolved out of these discussions.
After placement comes the layering stage (sometimes referred to as structuring). The layering stage is the most complex and often entails the international movement of the funds. The primary purpose of this stage is to separate the illicit money from its source. This is done by the sophisticated layering of financial transactions that obscure the audit trail and sever the link with the original crime.
During this stage, for example, the money launderers may begin by moving funds electronically from one country to another, then divide them into investments placed in advanced financial options or overseas markets; constantly moving them to elude detection; each time, exploiting loopholes or discrepancies in legislation and taking advantage of delays in judicial or police cooperation.
The final stage of the money laundering process is termed the integration stage. It is at the integration stage where the money is returned to the criminal from what seem to be legitimate sources. Having been placed initially as cash and layered through a number of financial transactions, the criminal proceeds are now fully integrated into the financial system and can be used for any purpose.
There are many different ways in which the laundered money can be integrated back with the criminal; however, the major objective at this stage is to reunite the money with the criminal in a manner that does not draw attention and appears to result from a legitimate source. For example, the purchases of property, art work, jewellery, or high-end automobiles are common ways for the launderer to enjoy their illegal profits without necessarily drawing attention to themselves.
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