Where does money laundering occur?

As money laundering is a consequence of almost all profit generating crime, it can occur practically anywhere in the world. Generally, money launderers tend to seek out countries or sectors in which there is a low risk of detection due to weak or ineffective anti-money laundering programmes. Because the objective of money laundering is to get the illegal funds back to the individual who generated them, launderers usually prefer to move funds through stable financial systems.

Money laundering activity may also be concentrated geographically according to the stage the laundered funds have reached. At the placement stage, for example, the funds are usually processed relatively close to the under-lying activity; often, but not in every case, in the country where the funds originate.

With the layering phase, the launderer might choose an offshore financial centre, a large regional business centre, or a world banking centre – any location that provides an adequate financial or business infrastructure. At this stage, the laundered funds may also only transit bank accounts at various locations where this can be done without leaving traces of their source or ultimate destination.

Finally, at the integration phase, launderers might choose to invest laundered funds in still other locations if they were generated in unstable economies or locations offering limited investment opportunities.

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