Is Money Laundering a modern phenomena?
Whilst the term “money laundering” in the sense we understand it now was first used in print in 1973 during the Watergate scandalmoney laundering as a practice reaches much further back into history. Its origins may lie as far back as 4,000BC when Chinese merchants found ways to conceal or move assets accumulated through trade in order to avoid confiscation. We can see many of the actions that form the basis for money laundering throughout history; such as the trafficking of opium after cultivation of the opium poppy began in c. 3400BC, counterfeiting of coins recorded in 640BC, the case of Hegestratos’ Fraud in 300BC, or Roman laws addressing forgery which were enacted through 80BC.
According a Chinese proverb, “the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago, the next best time is now,” and so it goes with preventing and detecting Money Laundering and Terrorism Finance. China has not wasted time, but still has more to do. With significant proceeds of crime generated, in keeping with its status as the world’s second largest economy, a robust response is required. According to an IMF Report, together with APG, adopted by FATF and published in April 2019 “China has a strong understanding of the money laundering and terrorist financing risks it faces, but it should focus more on the laundering of proceeds of crime and increase the range of sources used for its national risk assessment.