Money laundering is the process of moving money from the illegitimate to the legitimate economy. The crime of money laundering consists of knowingly disguising the source, origin, or ownership of illegal funds.
Any criminal transactions are carried out in cash and the function of the money launderer is often to translate these small sums into a larger, more liquid sum which will be difficult to trace and easier to invest. Money laundering has emerged on a massive international scale with the globalization of the world economy and the internationalization of organized crime.
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Money earned in one region can, with the increasing facility, be transferred to another part of the world, preventing its eventual recovery by law enforcement. With the globalization of organized crime activity, money is earned in all regions of the world and must be collected, consolidated, and moved.
This growth has been facilitated by new technologies, the increasing movement of goods and people globally, and the declining significance of borders. A large number of professionals, including lawyers, accountants, and bankers, have emerged to provide services to this criminal and corrupt clientele with large amounts of money at their disposal.
Not involved in the original act, these professionals help perpetuate criminal and corrupt activities through their services. Organized crime groups have particularly benefited from the expansion of global financial markets. They have exploited the differential regulatory regimes and the possibility of moving money across jurisdictions rapidly in order to hinder detection by taking advantage of the discrepancies between country-based regulatory systems.