What Is Money Laundering?


Quick Answer

Money laundering is the corrupt financial process of making money obtained from an illegal source look like it came from a legal source. Criminals who use this process include mobsters, terrorists, con artists, drug traffickers and corrupt public officials. The most common use of this process is to hide cash acquired through the black market.

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Full Answer

The process of money laundering includes three steps. The first step sees the illegal funds deposited into a bank or credit union. In the second step, the money launderer proceeds to transfer the money to other banks to hide the trail or to change its form by making large purchases. The final step has the money launderer either deposit the money one last time in a legitimate account or withdraw the money for use within a legal enterprise.

One of the dangers in the process includes the deposit of any high amount of cash as banks must report any large cash deposit. The Department of Justice, the State Department, the IRS and the FBI all work to eliminate money laundering.

Some famous money launderers included American mobsters Al Capone and Meyer Lansky, former Filipino president Fernando Marcos, Franklin Jurado and drug traffickers Pablo Escobar and José Santacruz-Londoño.

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