history of money laundering What is Money Laundering Money Laundering Methods International Initiatives Future Money Laundering techniques UK Legislation Laundering Offences Contact Us

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A Brief History

Taking a look into the origins of
Money Laundering.

What is Money Laundering?

Definitions of the phrase
"money laundering".

How widespread is the Problem?
Estimate of the amount of
cash being laundered

The Money Laundering Process

The 3 stages of Money
Laundering - Placement -
Layering - Integration.

Stages of the Process

How Money Laundering Stages
are achieved.

Money Laundering Methods

Techniques used by money

How Can We Prevent It?

Some measures to prevent this

Affects on Financial Institutions

How laundering affects financial
institutions, legally and

Business Areas Prone To Money Laundering

Which businesses are targetted
by the money launderer?

UK Legislation

Which legislation in the UK covers Money Laundering.

Money Laundering Offences

What the five basic offences of Money Laundering are.

International Initiatives

Some preventative measures in place on an international level.

The Future

Future methods of Laundering cash?


Some conclusions we have made about this area of criminality.


Some recommendations on what can be done to strengthen the fight against this insidious crime.


It is, I hope, understood that due to limitations of time and space, I cannot hope to give a comprehensive account of the law. For that you will have to refer to the references I will mention.


The UK has long noticed that third parties may be involved in facilitating the realisation of property which has been obtained unlawfully. Under Section 22(1) of the Theft Act 1968:

A person handles stolen goods if (otherwise in the course of stealing) knowing or believing them to be stolen goods he dishonestly receives the goods, or dishonestly undertakes or assists in their retention, removal, disposal or realisation, by or for the benefit of another person, or if he arranges to do so.

This provision, while being very wide-ranging in its effects, relates solely to goods which are or which represent the proceeds of stolen goods. This section covers a wide range of 'laundering' activities when money or other realisable property is dishonestly handled. Thus Michael Relton could be charged with offences relating to dishonest handling because he was handling the proceeds of the Brinks Mat robbery. This law however, did not cover the drugs issue. This was left to a later piece of legislation, namely, Section 27 (1) of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, which permitted the court:

          By or before which a person is convicted of an offence under this Act…. To order anything shown to the satisfaction of the court to relate to the offence, to be forfeited and either destroyed or dealt with in such other manner as the court may order.

Thus a court could order the forfeiture of property, whether money, drugs, weapons or vehicles found in the possession of the convicted person and used in the continuance of offences under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

However, in 1980, the House of Lords made an historic ruling, which restricted the scope of section 27 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. In the case of R v Cuthbertson an appeal was allowed against the forfeiture of £750,000 and was significant in that it exposed the limitations in the present laws regarding forfeiture. This resulted in the setting up of the Hodgson Committee with the brief of inquiring into ways of filling the vacuum created in the law by this decision.

The Committees findings, along with the deliberations of the Home Affairs Select Committee which followed, led to the passing of the Drug Trafficking Offences Act 1986 (DTOA). This was the first statute to categorise money laundering as a criminal offence and therefore notable in the chronology and evolution of laws to fight the money launderer. Subsequently, this has now been extended to new laws, which cover laundering of the proceeds of all crime while various other related provisions have been added.

Brown (1996) states: UK money laundering legislation can be said to have three themes that run through it:

  1. The desire to encourage and in some cases compel the reporting of suspicions, especially in relation to drug trafficking.

    This is reflected not only in the substantive offences of failing to report suspicion, but also in the provision of exceptions relating to acquisition and the like of tainted property where a disclosure has been made.

  2. The prohibition of any dealing with suspect funds, at least until a disclosure has been made and the consent of the law enforcement authorities obtained to proceed. This follows from the objective of denying the money launderer access to the market.
  3. The prohibition of doing anything that might alert the launderer to the existence of an investigation or prejudice such an investigation. This is necessary not only to protect the investigation but also to protect the person or institution that has made the disclosure against the possibility of the subject of the disclosure discovering that a disclosure has been made (whether or not s/he is a money launderer).