Blindingly obvious and frequently exploitable. Money laundering through the purchasing of high-value portable commodities

Date02 May 2017
Publication Date02 May 2017
AuthorNicholas Gilmour
SubjectAccounting & Finance,Financial risk/company failure,Financial compliance/regulation,Financial crime
Blindingly obvious and
frequently exploitable
Money laundering through the purchasing of
high-value portable commodities
Nicholas Gilmour
Centre for Defence and Security Studies, New Zealand Police,
Wellington, New Zealand
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of the openness and specic techniques
through which illicit funds generated by criminals are moved, transferred and laundered in the nancial
arrangement retained using high-value portable commodities in the UK and internationally.
Design/methodology/approach This paper presents exploratory ndings from research conducted
between 2011 and 2013 in the UK. The research undertaken sought to identify the process, steps and
vulnerabilities behind money laundering via high-value portable commodities and highlight the explicit
facilitators enabling this method of money laundering to take place.
Findings Despite signicant research into money laundering typologies, the use of high-value portable
commodities has remained largely untouched regardless of the increased implementation of anti-money
laundering policies and procedures seeking to halt the depositing of illicit cash into the global nancial system.
This paper demonstrates how high-value portable commodities are extremely vulnerable to money
laundering despite the large-scale anti-money laundering efforts focused on combating money laundering
across a broad range of sectors.
Research limitations/implications This paper is of value to government policymakers, regulators
and nancial institutions considering future preventative measures. It is also of value to nancial
investigators and law enforcement agencies intent on investigating money laundering. While the paper relies
on data from the UK, the overall ndings are such that wherever high-value portable commodities are present,
so too does the opportunity for money laundering through the nancial arrangement retained by high-value
portable commodities.
Originality/value This paper presents new research on the direct link between high-value portable
commodities and money laundering in the UK despite signicant research having previously taken place to
identify and develop money laundering typologies.
Keywords Anti-money laundering, Money laundering, Organized crime, Illicit cash,
High-value portable commodities
Paper type Research paper
Exhibited through an obligation to ensure the protability and the spend-ability of illicitly
gained nancial funds, money laundering remains instrumental in the success and collapse
of organised criminal groups. Not having the ability to cleanse illicitly derived nancial
funds creates a situation in which criminals are prevented from reaping the full benets of
the predicate offence. This article expands upon research initially conducted in the UK
between 2011 and 2013 to discuss the process of money laundering through the purchasing
of high-value portable commodities and identify how such a simple method of money
laundering is openly available and easily exploitable – despite its obvious limitations.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Journalof Money Laundering
Vol.20 No. 2, 2017
©Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/JMLC-08-2016-0035

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