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Uncomfortable truths? ML=BS and AML= BS2

Ronald F. Pol (, Wellington, New Zealand and School of Government and International Relations, Griffith Business School, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 8 May 2018




The purpose of this paper is to advance debate and prompt new strategies substantially to improve the capacity to disrupt serious profit-motivated crime.


Using interdiction rates (the proportion of criminal funds seized or forfeited) as an interim proxy effectiveness indicator, this article challenges elements of the dominant anti-money laundering/counter-financing of terrorism (AML/CFT) narrative, and reflects on policy effectiveness and outcomes.


Interdiction rates in jurisdictions surveyed hardly constitute a rounding error in the accounts of profit motivated criminal enterprises. The current AML/CFT model appears almost completely ineffective in disrupting illicit finances and serious crime.

Research limitations/implications

With such research at an early stage, some data are poorly substantiated and methodological inconsistencies rife.

Practical implications

For policy interventions with a reasonable prospect for crime not to pay, beyond rhetoric, frank evaluation of results and a potential step-change in policy, regulatory and enforcement vision and capability, may be required.


Scholars have exposed a paucity of meaningful links between AML/CFT controls and crime and terrorism prevention, yet the dominant narrative persists largely unchecked. This paper examines components of that narrative in the context of scholarship on “bullshit”.



Pol, R.F. (2018), "Uncomfortable truths? ML=BS and AML= BS2", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 25 No. 2, pp. 294-308.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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