The Invisible Network: BAE Systems reveals the common characters involved in money laundering

The Invisible Network
Money laundering represents the fifth largest economy in the world and equates to 3 per cent of global GDP.
Leading defence and security organisation, BAE Systems has set out six criminal types responsible for money laundering around the world, to help global businesses understand the motivations and modus operandi of criminals targeting their business. The company hopes to help businesses fight the significant threat posed by financial crime.
Accounting for almost $2trn each year, money laundering is having an increasingly devastating effect on societies around the world. The criminals behind money laundering are finding ever more sophisticated ways of disguising their activity. Research shows that money laundering activity has a significant impact on society as it drives up property prices and increases taxes and insurance premiums while also funding other criminal activity such as the drugs trade and international terrorism.
To help businesses recognise the threats to their business, BAE Systems’ subject matter experts analysed customer data to identify the people most commonly involved in money laundering. They are:
  1. The Source – White collar fraudsters and organised crime gangs making illegal profit from their crimes. As a result of operating outside the law they need their money ‘cleaned’ before it can be used.
  2. The Leader – Leaders are clinging to power and stripping their country of wealth to line their own pockets. Their outcast status causes the Leader to resort to subterfuge to hide their funds and spend money on the things that keep them in power. 
  3. The Bystander – Bystanders don’t facilitate crime but are happy to turn a blind eye while their mysterious client lines their pockets. 
  4. The Watched – People on international watch lists who could either be corrupted or facilitate corruption for a price. 
  5. The Shark – Sharks enable crime by helping move illicit funds through the banking system, profiting themselves along the way. 
  6. The Shop Front – Legitimate-looking businesses that exist to launder money, catering specifically to criminals.  
Rob Horton, Head of Financial Crime Solutions EMEA at BAE Systems said:
“In today’s digital world, criminals are constantly exploring new ways to find and exploit loopholes in legitimate channels to make the proceeds of crime look like legal tender. But the real issue isn’t simply the illicit money, it’s the wider impact of these criminal acts. Money laundering keeps hospitals, schools and libraries from being built as the proceeds of crime contribute nothing to the public purse. Launderers are also bending the property market, pricing first time buyers out of many cities. And the profits of money laundering are the cause of organised crime across the world, from drug trafficking and gun smuggling, to fraud and modern slavery.
“The fight against money laundering needs a new era of collaboration between the financial services industry, government and technology and compliance specialists. Understanding the motivations and modus operandi of the people behind it is the critical first step. Businesses need to understand the enemies they face in order to successfully protect themselves against them.”
BAE Systems helps major banks, insurers and law enforcement agencies defend against criminals and meet their compliance obligations for anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist finance throughout the customer lifecycle.


Businesses looking for more information about the Invisible Network can download our booklet below.

For further details please contact:
Nick Haigh, BAE Systems Applied Intelligence
Telephone: +44 (0) 3300 467573
Mobile: +44 (0) 7525 390982
Holly Ledlin, Bite Communications
Mobile: +44 (0)7827 917 023
Issued by:
BAE Systems plc
Media hotline: +44 (0) 7801 717739
Notes to editors
The launch of The Invisible Network follows a report last year into the scale and state of play of money laundering globally. How Dirty Money Moves report can be downloaded here.
About BAE Systems
At BAE Systems, we provide some of the world’s most advanced, technology-led defence, aerospace and security solutions and employ a skilled workforce of some 83,400 people in over 40 countries. Working with customers and local partners, we develop, engineer, manufacture and support products and systems to deliver military capability, protect national security and people and keep critical information and infrastructure secure.
At BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, we help nations, governments and businesses around the world defend themselves against cybercrime, reduce their risk in the connected world, comply with regulation, and transform their operations.
We do this using our unique set of solutions, systems, experience and processes - often collecting and analysing huge volumes of data. These, combined with some of the most skilled consultants in the world, enable us to defend against cyber-attacks, fraud and financial crime, enable intelligence-led policing and solve complex data problems.
We employ over 4,200 people across 18 countries in the Americas, APAC, UK and EMEA. For further information about BAE Systems Applied Intelligence, please visit