If you shop with a major bank, chances are that all the transactions in your account are scrutinized by AML (Anti Money Laundering) software. Billions of dollars are being invested in these applications. They are supposed to track suspicious transfers, deposits, and withdrawals based on overall statistical patterns. Bank directors, exposed, under the Patriot Act, to personal liability for money laundering in their establishments, swear by it as a legal shield and the holy grail of the on-going war against financial crime and the finances of terrorism.
Quoted in Wired.com, Neil Katkov of Celent Communications, pegs future investments in compliance-related activities and products by American banks alone at close to $15 billion in the next 3 years (2005-2008). The United State’s Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (finCEN) received c. 15 million reports in each of the years 2003 and 2004.
But this is a drop in the seething ocean of illicit financial transactions, sometimes egged on and abetted even by the very Western governments ostensibly dead set against them.
Israel has always turned a blind eye to the origin of funds deposited by Jews from South Africa to Russia. In Britain it is perfectly legal to hide the true ownership of a company. Underpaid Asian bank clerks on immigrant work permits in the Gulf states rarely require identity documents from the mysterious and well-connected owners of multi-million dollar deposits.
Hawaladars continue plying their paperless and trust-based trade – the transfer of billions of US dollars around the world. American and Swiss banks collaborate with dubious correspondent banks in off shore centres. Multinationals shift money through tax free territories in what is euphemistically known as “tax planning”. Internet gambling outfits and casinos serve as fronts for narco-dollars. British Bureaux de Change launder up to 2.6 billion British pounds annually.
The 500 Euro note makes it much easier to smuggle cash out of Europe. A French parliamentary committee accused the City of London of being a money laundering haven in a 400 page report. Intelligence services cover the tracks of covert operations by opening accounts in obscure tax havens, from Cyprus to Nauru. Money laundering, its venues and techniques, are an integral part of the economic fabric of the world. Business as usual?
Not really. In retrospect, as far as money laundering goes, September 11 may be perceived as a watershed as important as the precipitous collapse of communism in 1989. Both events have forever altered the patterns of the global flows of illicit capital.
What is Money Laundering?
Strictly speaking, money laundering is the age-old process of disguising the illegal origin and criminal nature of funds (obtained in sanctions-busting arms sales, smuggling, trafficking in humans, organized crime, drug trafficking, prostitution rings, embezzlement, insider trading, bribery, and computer fraud) by moving them untraceably and investing them in legitimate businesses, securities, or bank deposits. But this narrow definition masks the fact that the bulk of money laundered is the result of tax evasion, tax avoidance, and outright tax fraud, such as the “VAT carousel scheme” in the EU (moving goods among businesses in various jurisdictions to capitalize on differences in VAT rates). Tax-related laundering nets between 10-20 billion US dollars annually from France and Russia alone. The confluence of criminal and tax averse funds in money laundering networks serves to obscure the sources of both.شراء قسيمة Perfectmoney