Term of the week: trade-based money launderingJuly 10, 2013
Julie Myers, the former assistant secretary of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, once defined trade-based money laundering as:
The use of trade to legitimize, conceal, transfer, and convert large quantities of illicit cash into less conspicuous assets or commodities. In turn, the tangible assets or value are transferred worldwide in an effort to avoid financial transparency laws and regulations.*
Common methods of laundering money through trade are over-invoicing and under-invoicing. If you want to transfer money to somebody, you could transfer goods to them and under-bill them. If somebody is trying to transfer money to you, you could transfer goods to them and over-bill them. From the outside, it appears to be a legitimate transaction. But the parties involved know it’s a sham to transfer extra money without drawing attention to themselves from financial authorities.
*U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Trade, 109th Congress, 2nd Session, “Customs Budget Authorizations and Other Customs Issues” (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2007).