Money laundering for dummies

What are the basics of money laundering, and when does moving money around constitute a crime?  Get a quick and clear explanation from Columbia Law's Prof. Simon.


 William H. Simon is a professor at Columbia Law School, holding the Arthur Levitt Professor of Law and Everett B. Birch Professor in Professional Responsibility chairs.  His areas of expertise are professional responsibility and social policy.

Money laundering for dummies Brief Transcript

What is money laundering? How is it regulated?

I'm Bill Simon from Columbia Law School, and I am going to explain money laundering and particularly its regulation in the United States. There are many U.S. laws that prohibit activities connected to money laundering. Maybe the most important of these are the Anti-Money Laundering provisions that criminalize behavior that involves two basic elements. First of all, conducting a transaction that is intended to obscure the ownership or the source of the assets. Then the second element of this crime is the knowledge of the person who conducts the transaction that the assets were derived from illegal activity.

So someone starts out with assets that are either the proceeds of criminal activity or intended to support criminal activity. And these assets are in a form or a location that the person views as inconvenient, unsafe, or suspicious. And the aim of the transaction is to transfer these assets to a location or a form in which they are more convenient, more safe, and less suspicious. A person who assisted in this transaction, knowing that the source of the money was criminal bribery would very likely have violated the criminal prohibition of the U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Act.

This has been Bill Simon from Columbia Law School. Thank you for watching TalksOnLaw.