Money laundering refers to the process of covering money which has been acquired through illegal means by converting into other sources which appear to be legitimate. The money which has been acquired through legal means is normally referred to as “clean” while that acquired through illegal means is referred as “dirty”, now this process is known as money “laundering”. “Traditionally, money laundering has been viewed (in isolation) as the cleaning of dirty money generated by criminal activity: in the collective mindset these crimes are probably associated with the drug trade”.
Money laundering has been defined differently in various countries around the globe. According to Schott, World Bank, and international Monetary Fund, most countries have adopted the definitions by the United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (1988) and those by the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime (2000). These definitions includes;
- The conversion or transfer of property, knowing that such property is derived from any [drug trafficking] offense or offenses or from an act of participating in such offenses, for the purpose of concealing or disguising the illicit origin of the property or of assisting any person who is involved in the commission of such an offense or offenses to evade the legal consequences of his actions;
- The concealment or disguise of the true nature, source, location, disposition, movement, rights with respect to, or ownership of property, knowing that such property is derived from an offense or offenses, and;
- The acquisition, possession or use of property, knowing at the time of receipt that such property was derived from an offense or offenses or from an act of participation in such offense...or offenses.
Money laundering practice is mainly associated with the terror activities. Terrorist acquire their money through illegal means, and thus they launder it so that it may appear genuine. According to Biersteker and Eckert, terrorists produce a defined product and that consumers “purchase” this product with their donations to a terrorist organization; these donations are made to support a perceived public good that the recipient terrorist purports to promote. This business has persisted due to the continual support from politicians, “government,” leaders, and other powerful organization. However, this should be discouraged, because it contributes to illegal business in the society.