Since its origin in 1989 there is a growing awareness that the international anti-money laundering (AML) regime is not working. After two decades of failed efforts, experts still ponder how to implement a regime that does work. During that time other illicit or unregulated money flows have appeared on the international agenda as well. Today, tax evasion and avoidance, flight capital, transfer pricing and mispricing, and the proceeds of grand corruption are seen as perhaps more detrimental obstacles to good governance and the stability and integrity of the financial system.

  • Uncomfortable truths? ML=BS and AML= BS2

    Ronald F. Pol
    Journal of Financial Crime
    Vol. 25 Issue: 2, 2018, pp.294-308

    The purpose of this paper is to advance debate and prompt new strategies substantially to improve the capacity to disrupt serious profit-motivated crime. Using interdiction rates (the proportion of criminal funds seized or forfeited) as an interim proxy effectiveness indicator, this article challenges elements of the dominant anti-money laundering/counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) narrative, and reflects on policy effectiveness and outcomes. Interdiction rates in jurisdictions surveyed hardly constitute a rounding error in the accounts of profit motivated criminal enterprises. The current AML/CFT model appears almost completely ineffective in disrupting illicit finances and serious crime.

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  • Panama Papers demonstrate need to reopen UNGASS 2016 outcome document

    Recommendations to counter money laundering are inadequate
    Tom Blickman
    Friday, April 8, 2016

    The Panama Papers, a massive leak of confidential documents from Mossack Fonseca, a law firm in Panama that helped wealthy clients and money launderers for drug trafficking organisations set up anonymous shell companies in tax havens, should open the outcome document of the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS 2016) on the world drug problem, that will take place on April 19-21 in New York.

  • Global Surveillance of Dirty Money

    Assessing Assessments of Regimes to Control Money-Laundering and Combat the Financing of Terrorism
    Terence C. Halliday, Michael Levi & Peter Reuter
    Center on Law and Globalization
    January 2014

    This first independent assessment of the global AML system, conducted by the Center on Law and Globalization, appraises efforts to rate countries by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an organization of advanced economies that sets the rules for control of money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. The FATF, IMF and other bodies rate more than 150 countries on whether they meet the FATF’s global standards by enacting laws, creating regulatory agencies, prosecuting offenders and confiscating moneys. The IMF, one of the largest of these assessing bodies, has had substantial influence on methods and practices of assessment in the worldwide regulation of moneys flowing from crime or to terrorists.

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  • Drug law enforcement and financial investigation strategies

    IDPC Modernising Drug Law Enforcement Report 5
    September 2013

    Since the 1980s, there has been a major push in rhetoric and institution-building, emphasizing the centrality of attacking the financial lifeblood of drug trafficking networks and organised economic crimes. Much progress has been made in legislation and the creation of financial intelligence units. However, there are volumes of commentary and legal analysis, but almost nowhere in the world is there any systematic analysis of law enforcement or criminal justice inputs or outputs, let alone of outcomes in terms of reduced crimes of any kind or reduced harms arising from the ‘organised’ nature of crime.

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  • Deficiencies in financial oversight enable money laundering

    After nearly 25 year of failed efforts, experts still ponder how to implement an anti-money laundering regime that works
    Tom Blickman
    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    In July 1989, the leaders of the economic powers assembled at the G7 Paris summit decided to establish a Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to counter money laundering as an effective strategy against drug trafficking by criminal ‘cartels’. However, since the inception of the international anti-money laundering (AML) regime there is a growing awareness that the regime is not working as well as intended.

  • Draining Development?

    Controlling Flows of Illicit Funds from Developing Countries
    Peter Reuter (ed.)
    World Bank
    March 2012

    The book provides the first collection of analytic contributions, as opposed to advocacy essays and black box estimates, on illicit financial flows (IFFs). Some of the chapter presents new empirical findings; others, new conceptual insights. All of them enrich the understanding of the dynamics of the illicit flows phenomenon. The book does not offer a new estimate of the global total of these flows because the phenomenon is too poorly understood.

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  • Countering illicit and unregulated money flows

    Money laundering, tax evasion and financial regulation
    Tom Blickman
    TNI Crime & Globalisation Debate Paper
    January 2010

    In this issue of Crime & Globalisation, Tom Blickman tracks the history of the international anti-money laundering (AML) regime. Since its origin in 1989 there is a growing awareness that the AML regime is not working as well as intended. After two decades of failed efforts, experts still ponder how to implement one that does work.

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  • Money Laundering, Tax Evasion and Financial Regulation

    TNI Expert Seminar
    June 12-13, 2007

    The seminar looked at the effectiveness of the Anti Money Laundering (AML) regime that has been built over the past two decades, and the more recent attempts by states and international organisations to control tax evasion, capital flight and curb tax avoidance and harmful tax competition. Despite the impressive paper framework the AML regime appears to be not very effective.

  • Money Laundering

    Michael Levi and Peter Reuter
    Crime and Justice: A Review of Research, Vol.34: 289-375

    Techniques for hiding proceeds of crime include transporting cash out of the country, purchasing businesses through which funds can be channeled, buying easily transportable valuables, transfer pricing, and using “underground banks.” Since the mid-1980s, governments and law enforcement have developed an increasingly global, intrusive, and routinized set of measures to affect criminal revenues passing through the financial system. Available data weakly suggest that the anti–money laundering (AML) regime has not had major effects in suppressing crimes.

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  • Chasing Dirty Money

    The Fight Against Money Laundering
    Peter Reuter and Edwin M. Truman
    Peterson Institute for International Economics
    November 2004

    Originally developed to reduce drug trafficking, national and international efforts to reduce money laundering have broadened over the years to address other crimes, and most recently, terrorism. These efforts now constitute a formidable regime applied to financial institutions and transactions throughout much of the world. Yet few assessments of either the achievements or consequences of this regime have been made.