The uses of irresistible inference

Kenneth Murray (Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, Livingston, UK)

Journal of Money Laundering Control

ISSN: 1368-5201

Publication date: 4 January 2011



The purpose of this paper is to assert that the exclusive use of predicate offence as a means of proving money laundering is an inadequate response to the level of threat presented by the crime. It aims to promote the concept of “irresistible inference” from UK case law as a basis for establishing international consensus that this provides an alternative and possibly more effective means of prosecuting the crime.


The paper considers academic research into the incidence of money laundering and the effectiveness of anti‐money laundering measures; it considers the efficacy of current UK legislation on money laundering; assesses legal views on recent developments in UK case law relating to the concept of “irresistible inference”; identifies what “irresistible inference” looks like and asserts its practical value as an alternative basis for proving criminality of funds in money laundering prosecutions.


An effective international response to the increasing threat to international institutions posed by money laundering requires development of new approaches to proving criminality of funds. The use of irresistible inference as an alternative to predicate offence, however, requires development of the international understanding of what it looks like in order that relevant policy makers and legal decision makers can deploy it with confidence so that it is able to make the significant contribution to the international effort against money laundering it is capable of.

Practical implications

To facilitate the necessary international consensus, it may be necessary in some jurisdictions to amend legislation where it currently relies on predicate offence for the prosecution of money laundering cases.

Social implications

A failure to effectively combat international money laundering implies acceptance of an attitude of complacency in the face of increasing exposure to levels of threat in the form of political and social corruption, organized crime and terrorism that ought to be unacceptable to the international community.


International acceptance of “irresistible inference” as a means of proving criminality in money laundering cases would deliver a radically more hostile environment for international money launderers. This paper is designed to open up thinking along these lines across international borders.



Murray, K. (2011), "The uses of irresistible inference", Journal of Money Laundering Control, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 7-15.

Download as .RIS



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.