It is increasingly evident that money laundering is a growing problem in the world economy. Technological developments have facilitated its growth, which is a trend that is likely to continue. However, the actual growing threat is that of drug trafficking and other forms of serious crime. The growth in these types of organised crime is generating significant proceeds that need to be laundered back into the legitimate economy. Globalisation, although itself a very general term, is useful in considering the evolution of organised crime. The enhanced mobility of individuals coupled with the declining relevance of territorial boundaries have provided an arena rife for illicit transborder activity. Money laundering has followed suit and grown as demand for it has increased.
Both domestically and internationally a broad consensus has emerged that strategies should be directed towards undermining the economic power of the criminals and organised crime groups involved. Domestically governments need to implement comprehensive anti-money laundering regimes, that seek to increase the awareness of this problem both within the government and within the private sector. Authorities must then have the necessary legal tools to undertake investigations, to seize assets and communicate information among themselves and with counterparts in other countries.
Internationally, the work of the FATF, the Council of Europe and the European Union has sought to promote closer co-operation between countries in tackling the money laundering issue. Yet, internationally there is also recognition that a broader multifaceted approach is required, especially in light of the new mediums through which money laundering is embracing and the extent of the global network of terrorist financing, which the events of September 11th have unearthed.
Money laundering is an active force that is continuously changing its nature and mode of operation in order to sidestep increasing and improving legislation that is being directed towards it. At present the money launderers are carrying out this action with elements of success as is illustrated by the growing number of recent, innovative money laundering schemes. Yet, it is also fair to conclude that the international community has been successful in its anti-money laundering measures in that the criminals and organised crime groups have been forced into new ways of laundering money. The international community cannot be realistically expected to eliminate the money laundering issue completely, all they can seek do is to make the money launderers job as difficult as possible. From this perspective individual countries must implement the necessary anti-money laundering devices and these countries must co-operate through established international institutions such as the FATF in order to limit the money launderers opportunities.