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
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Financial Crime
Early online date24 Mar 2022
Publication statusEarly online - 24 Mar 2022


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


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