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Money laundering is the process by which criminals attempt to disguise the source of money that was obtained illegally. According to the National Crime Agency, money laundering underpins and enables most forms of organised crime. Money laundering enables criminal groups and gangs to fund and grow their illegal operations and conceal their assets. Money laundering enables some of the most heinous crimes in the world, including modern day slavery, human trafficking and the drugs and weapons trades.
The only way in which money launderers can succeed is by exploiting legal and legitimate processes and services. For example, accountants, legal firms, estate agents and other organisations dealing with high levels of cash and cash transfers can be and are exploited by criminals looking to integrate their illegally obtained assets into the UK financial system, putting the UK’s national security at risk while undermining the integrity of the UK economy. In most cases, collaboration with money launderers by legitimate businesses will be unwitting, but in some cases, legitimate businesses assist money launderers either by allowing their illegal activities to go unchecked, or by not putting proper AML processes in place to stop them.
The penalties for money laundering and assisting/not reporting money laundering are very high, and all regulated businesses must have appropriate anti-money laundering procedures in place to ensure their businesses are not enabling criminals to clean their dirty money.
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