Research Handbook on Money Laundering
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Research Handbook on Money Laundering

Edited by Brigitte Unger and Daan van der Linde

Although the practice of disguising the illicit origins of money dates back thousands of years, the concept of money laundering as a multidisciplinary topic with social, economic, political and regulatory implications has only gained prominence since the 1980s. This groundbreaking volume offers original, state-of-the-art research on the current money laundering debate and provides insightful predictions and recommendations for future developments in the field.
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Chapter 2: Money laundering regulation: from Al Capone to Al Qaeda

Brigitte Unger


Global regulation of money laundering became an issue only in the late 1990s as a consequence of the liberalization of financial markets, which attracted both legal and illegal capital. The fact that laundering is a global phenomenon which is not directly harmful, and has no direct negative effects on society or business nor is the scale of it known, is a big challenge to the regulators. As a consequence, the support from business and society for a regulatory policy is weak. Laundering regulation was mainly the result of a failed US war on drugs which turned into a fight to reclaim the proceeds of crime. The Financial Action Task Force implemented this regulation by setting international standards and by blacklisting. In the EU hard law was used. Regulation switched from a rule-based to a risk-based approach, but even this is not well supported. Laundering regulation is still a public policy centered within nation states, however it is slowly becoming an issue of global governance where private organizations and the need for legitimacy are assuming more importance.

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