THE STAGES OF THE PROCESS
This is the first stage in the washing cycle. Money laundering is a "cash-intensive" business, generating vast amounts of cash from illegal activities (for example, street dealing of drugs where payment takes the form of cash in small denominations). The monies are placed into the financial system or retail economy or are smuggled out of the country. The aims of the launderer are to remove the cash from the location of acquisition so as to avoid detection from the authorities and to then transform it into other asset forms; for example: travellers cheques, postal orders, etc. (more details follow).
In the course of layering, there is the first attempt at concealment or disguise of the source of the ownership of the funds by creating complex layers of financial transactions designed to disguise the audit trail and provide anonymity. The purpose of layering is to disassociate the illegal monies from the source of the crime by purposely creating a complex web of financial transactions aimed at concealing any audit trail as well as the source and ownership of funds.
Typically, layers are created by moving monies in and out of the offshore bank accounts of bearer share shell companies through electronic funds' transfer (EFT). Given that there are over 500,000 wire transfers - representing in excess of $1 trillion - electronically circling the globe daily, most of which is legitimate, there isn’t enough information disclosed on any single wire transfer to know how clean or dirty the money is, therefore providing an excellent way for launderers to move their dirty money. Other forms used by launderers are complex dealings with stock, commodity and futures brokers. Given the sheer volume of daily transactions, and the high degree of anonymity available, the chances of transactions being traced is insignificant.
The final stage in the process. It is this stage at which the money is integrated into the legitimate economic and financial system and is assimilated with all other assets in the system. Integration of the "cleaned" money into the economy is accomplished by the launderer making it appear to have been legally earned. By this stage, it is exceedingly difficult to distinguish legal and illegal wealth.
Methods popular to money launderers at this stage of the game are:
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