A Critical Analysis of Systems in Singapore, Switzerland, the UK and the USA
Edited by Mark Pieth and Gemma Aiolfi
Chapter 8: Synthesis: Comparing international standards and their implementation
Mark Pieth and Gemma Aiolfi I A ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING AS A MULTIFUNCTIONAL CONCEPT Measuring Effectiveness Returning once again to the chapter on international standards,1 a key issue in the discourse on AML seems to have been lost: Are AML-rules really effective? After 15–20 years of setting standards it seems very hard to pose such a simple – and yet ‘subversive’ – question. How could it become such a taboo? To answer the question about effectiveness would require a clear definition of the goals of AML. Superficially the assumption must be that AML is about catching criminals and disrupting their support network. While reducing the ability of criminal operators to obscure the origin of ill-gotten gains and to put them to new use, is certainly one of the raisons d’être of AML, it might not be the only one. Remaining for a moment with the officially declared goal – that is combating crime – even here effectiveness is difficult to assess, not least because AML has been a constantly moving target. Starting off as a specific measure to track down drug-traffickers, then later used to combat other forms of organized criminals active on all sorts of illegal markets, it soon moved into the area of serious crime as such, encompassing as predicates economic and corporate crime, especially the abuse of public power or to use a popular expression ‘graft’. More recently, the concept has been enlarged to encompass tax fraud in some jurisdictions. Finally, several countries have diluted the notion of predicate...
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