Six common characters behind money laundering: The Invisible Network

Head of Financial Crime Solutions EMEA
Every year, $2 trillion worth of illicit money passes through the hands of money launderers. Our Financial Crime experts have identified the people most commonly involved.
The Invisible NetworkIf money laundering were an economy, it would be the fifth largest in the world. Every year, $2 trillion worth of illicit money passes through the hands of money launderers.

This invisible economy is having a huge impact on society. By siphoning off legitimate funds and reducing the amount of taxable income, money laundering is keeping hospitals, schools and libraries from being built. It’s also bending the property market, pricing first time buyers out of many cities, while its profits are used to fund activities like human trafficking, the drugs trade and international terrorism.

Worryingly, the problem is escalating. In today’s digital world, criminals are constantly exploring new ways to find and exploit loopholes in financial channels to make the proceeds of crime look like legal tender.

In most cases, legal money is laundered through unknowing legitimate businesses – and it’s these businesses that face financial fines or reputational damage if they are found to be in possession, or facilitating the movement of, illegal tender.

Six criminal types driving money laundering

In a bid to help our customers protect their businesses and their personal reputations, a team at BAE Systems’ Applied Intelligence business has spent the past few months analysing customer data and money laundering methodologies to establish trends and patterns of behaviour. Our research has identified the six criminal types driving money laundering around the world. They are:
  • 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.
  • The Leader: Leaders cling to power and strip their country of wealth to line their own pockets. Their outcast status causes them to subterfuge to hide their funds and spend money on the things that keep them in power. 
  • The Bystander: Bystanders don’t facilitate crime but are happy to turn a blind eye while their mysterious client lines their pockets. 
  • The Watched: People on international watch lists who could either be corrupted or facilitate corruption for a price. 
  • The Shark: Sharks enable crime by helping move illicit funds through the banking system, profiting themselves along the way. 
  • The Shop Front: Legitimate-looking businesses that exist to launder money, catering specifically to criminals.

We hope by that identifying these six characters, businesses can better understand the motivations and modus operandi of the criminals targeting their organisation. In doing so, they can fight the significant global threat posed by financial crime.

Find more information about the Invisible Network here, or download our booklet below.

Rob Horton Head of Financial Crime Solutions EMEA 21 September 2017