Reexamining the anti-money laundering framework: A legal critique and new approach to combating money laundering

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Purpose: Money laundering poses significant challenges for policymakers and law-enforcement authorities. The money-laundering phenomenon is often acknowledged as a type of “serious and organised crime” yet has traditionally been described as a complicated three-stage process, involving the “placement, layering and integration” of criminal proceeds. This article aims to reexamine the money-laundering concept within the realm of organised crime and critique its legal underpinnings.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper explores how criminal actors collude in organised money-laundering schemes to circumvent laws and frustrate the efforts of officials, while advancing the regulatory-spatial paradigms of which organised money launderers operate. In doing so, it reframes the debate towards the “who” and “where” of money laundering.

Findings: This paper argues that authorities’ efforts to combat money laundering relies on rigid legal definitions and flawed ideals that fail to address the money-laundering problem.

Originality/value: There has been little scholarly debate that questions the fundamental approach to conceptualising money laundering. This paper proposes a new approach to combating money laundering that better incorporates the actors involved in money laundering and the spaces in which it occurs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-47
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Financial Crime
Issue number1
Early online date24 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2023


  • money laundering
  • organised crime
  • three-stage model
  • AML


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