Uncoupling the relationship between corruption and money laundering crimes

Norman Mugarura (Garadi Ltd, Barking, United Kingdom)

Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance

ISSN: 1358-1988

Publication date: 8 February 2016



Money laundering schemes are inextricably linked to corruption whereby the latter is utilised either as “a means to an end or as an end in itself”. The prevalence of one of these offences in a country usually signifies the prevalence of the other. The foregoing connection is supported by studies carried out by the World Bank and Asian Development Bank to correlate the connection between money laundering and corruption. Corruption has been exploited to facilitate commission of other crimes such as drug trafficking, prostitution, small arms trafficking and illegal currency trafficking. It has destroyed the myth that corruption is a domestic political issue amenable within individual states borders. Therefore, the design of anti-corruption policy measures should incorporate effective implementation anti-money laundering (AML) strategy and their enforcement on corrupt public officials. It needs to be noted that money accrued from corruption constitutes criminal property under the majority of global AML/CFT frameworks which have been domesticated by individual national governments. Both corruption and money laundering thrive in an environment of bad governance, lack of requisite local oversight institutions, a tenuous legal systems and laws and bad governance. These offences have become so intertwined that it is not easy to tell which is which because they are embedded in each other and in the context of this paper are symbiotic.


The paper articulates that there is a close connection between corruption and money laundering offences. It was undertaken by evaluating primary and secondary data sources to demonstrate the interconnectivity of the foregoing criminal offences in the regulatory realm. The overlapping relationship between corruption and money laundering has been acknowledged by many oversight institutions and national governments. For example, Singapore enacted a legislation: “Corruption, Drug Trafficking and other Serious Crimes (Confiscation of Benefits) Act” in (1999) recognizing the foregoing interconnectivity. The G20 imposed on Financial Action Task Force the requirement to incorporate mechanisms within its framework to combat money laundering and terrorist financing measures to fight corruption. Therefore, this paper has demonstrated a close correlation between corruption and money laundering and what ought to be done at various oversight levels to forestall them.


Corruption and money laundering are inextricably linked such that where one exists, the other one will be also lurking in the background. The paper has articulated the connection between corruption and money laundering and the context they are manifested either together or differently. It has demonstrated that the foregoing offences are literally “Keith and Kin” and should be accorded the same level of attention as serious financial crime, both in theory and practice of states.

Research limitations/implications

While there are many papers which have been published on the subject of money laundering and corruption, not many articulate the connection between corruption and money laundering in the context of this paper. The paper was undertaken by evaluating primary and secondary data sources and analysing this data in different contexts of this paper. However, it would have been better to corroborate some of the foregoing sources by working with oversight AML/corruption institutions. Therefore, the author will ensure that future studies carried out on the subject matter of money laundering and corruption are undertaken with a high measure of collaboration with oversight AML/corruption agencies and possibly also civil society organisation which have a mandate on these similar issues.

Practical implications

This paper is of practical significance for governments, policy and oversight institutions in dealing with issues relating to corruption and money laundering. The paper provides insights into the dynamics of the foregoing twin offences, the context they are manifested and how the law can be better utilised to forestall them. Corruption and money laundering have eviscerated the individual economies capacity to engage in national development programmes, and they need to be addressed as a matter of seriousness, both nationally and internationally. This paper will provide insights into what states need to do to harness the law relating to corruption and money laundering offences, both at an oversight institution and individual national government’s level.


Corruption and money laundering crimes have eroded the fabric of societies, eviscerated individual states capacity to pursue national development goals and not to mention fuelling other crimes such as financing of terrorism, human and small arms trafficking, drugs trafficking, to mention but a few. Therefore, no state can afford to ignore the foregoing transgressions against humanity because no state can claim to be immune from the offshoot effects of corruption and money laundering.


There are not many published papers which articulate the connection between money laundering and corruption in the context of this paper. This paper is one of its kind, original and a must read. It is a must read because it has a lot offer literally to every one û academics, researchers, students, policy and regulatory institutions and the list goes on.



Mugarura, N. (2016), "Uncoupling the relationship between corruption and money laundering crimes", Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 74-89. https://doi.org/10.1108/JFRC-01-2014-0002

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