In a recent movie Mickey Blue Eyes, there is a comical scene in which an unknown artist’s painting is sold to a buyer for $50,000. It seems as though a restaurant owner owed the mafia a large sum of money and he paid them by bidding an absurd amount of money for a horrid painting. The movie made this scene seem quite innocent and funny (See Appendix 1 for more examples). Unfortunately money laundering is a serious crime that is still prevalent in the United States and other countries.
Money laundering is the routing of illegal profits from bank to bank to disguise its existence. The illegal profits are usually made through activities such as drug trafficking, prostitution rings, illegal arms sales, and various other things. The Russian mafia, the Triad (otherwise known as the Chinese mafia), and the Columbian drug cartel are just a few of the groups that partake in money laundering (FATF). No one knows exactly how much money is launder yearly but it is estimated to be about $100 billion in the United States (CCANB). Although there are hundreds of ways in which to launder money, some are more lucrative than others. The Black Market Peso exchange, gold, and digital cash are some of the more common ways to launder money.
Making it harder to crack down on money laundering is the fact that many countries do not have money-laundering laws in place like the United States does. These other countries make it possible for this illegal activity to carry on. These countries are only hurting themselves because money laundering creates a direct negative effect on their economy. If these nations want to fight money laundering they will need to implement laws against it. Banks could be one of the most useful tools in stopping the laundering of money.
WHAT IS MONEY LAUNDERING?
As mentioned earlier money laundering is the process of hiding profits from illegal criminal activities. The major goal of these criminal activities is to make as large of a profit as possible. The money laundering process is very important to these criminals because it allows them to enjoy their profits without revealing the source. When one of these activities generates large profits, the group involved must find away to disguise the funds without attracting attention towards themselves. The way they accomplish this is by moving the funds to an indiscrete place where they are less likely to attract lots of attention. This allows the group to keep the source of the profits hidden so that it is always available to them. Money laundering is usually done in countries in which they have few or very weak laws to prevent money laundering. Banks are the major targets of these operations because they can provide a variety of services that can be used to conceal the money (CCANB).
WHO LAUNDERS MONEY?
Most of the money laundered today is done by some sort of organized crime, whether it is a drug cartel, illegal arms sale, smuggling, prostitution rings,...