Money laundering is the process whereby the proceeds of crime are transformed into ostensibly legitimate money or other assets. However in a number of legal and regulatory system the term money laundering has become conflated with other forms of financial crime, and sometimes used more generally to include misuse of the financial system, including terrorism financing, tax evasion and evading of international sanctions. Most anti-money laundering laws openly conflate money laundering (which is concerned with source of funds) with terrorism financing (which is concerned with destination of funds) when regulating the financial system.
It is said that the term "money laundering" was coined from the practice of the American mafia who, at one time, channelled the cash proceeds of crime through laundrettes to legitimize the cash. Whether this is true or not, the term "money laundering" is now widely used.
Money obtained from certain crimes, such as extortion, insider trading, drug trafficking, illegal gambling and tax evasion is "dirty". It needs to be cleaned to appear to have derived from non-criminal activities so that banks and other financial institutions will deal with it without suspicion. Originally, the term applied to real money but now money laundering applies to the proceeds of crime that are laundered using a variety of monetary instruments including securities, digital currencies such as bitcoin, credit cards, and traditional currency. Money can be laundered by many methods, which vary in complexity and sophistication.
Different countries may or may not treat tax evasion or payments in breach of international sanctions as money laundering. Some jurisdictions differentiate these for definition purposes, and others do not. Some jurisdictions define money laundering as obfuscating sources of money, either intentionally or by merely using financial systems or services that do not identify or track sources or destinations.
Other jurisdictions define money laundering to include money from activity that would have been a crime in that jurisdiction, even if it were legal where the actual conduct occurred. This broad brush of applying the term "money laundering" to merely incidental, extraterritorial, or simply privacy-seeking behaviors has led some to label it "financial thoughtcrime".
Many regulatory and governmental authorities issue estimates each year for the amount of money laundered, either worldwide or within their national economy. In 1996, the International Monetary Fund estimated that two to five percent of the worldwide global economy involved laundered money. The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), an intergovernmental body set up to combat money laundering, stated, "Overall, it is absolutely impossible to produce a reliable estimate of the amount of money laundered and therefore the FATF does not publish any figures in this regard." Academic commentators have likewise been unable to estimate the volume of money with any degree of assurance. Various estimates of the scale of global money laundering are sometimes repeated often enough to make some people regard them as factual—but no researcher has overcome the inherent difficulty of measuring an actively concealed practice.
Regardless of the difficulty in measurement, the amount of money laundered each year is in the billions (US dollars) and poses a significant policy concern for governments. As a result, governments and international bodies have undertaken efforts to deter, prevent, and apprehend money launderers. Financial institutions have likewise undertaken efforts to prevent and detect transactions involving dirty money, both as a result of government requirements and to avoid the reputational risk involved. Issues relating to money laundering have existed as long as there have been large scale criminal enterprises. Modern anti-money laundering laws have developed along with the modern War on Drugs. In more recent times anti-money laundering legislation is seen as adjunct to the financial crime of terrorist financing in that both crimes usually involve the transmission of funds through the financial system (although money laundering relates to where the money has come from, and terrorist financing relating to where the money is going to).
Reverse money laundering is a process that disguises a legitimate source of funds that are to be used for illegal purposes. In an affidavit filed March 24, 2014 in United States District Court, Northern California, San Francisco Division, FBI special agent Emmanuel V. Pascau alleged that several people associated with the Chee Kung Tong organization, and California State Senator Leland Yee, engaged in reverse money laundering activities. ( wikipedia)
( I hope the money laundering laws is not used to control bitcoin technology which is an open system such that transactions could be scrutinized with the open ledger block chain)
Here is an anti money laundering expert discussing about bitcoin ;
Though he did not discuss money laundering here but he probably knows if bitcoin purchasing and selling could be treat as money laundering. Watch and learn.