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What is money laundering?

Money laundering involves carrying out transactions with the aim of providing apparently lawful origins for criminal money.

Money laundering is legally described in article 435 Wwft BES and is a criminal offence in its own right, meaning that it does not require a conviction for a predicate offence, such as drug trafficking or trafficking of human beings. FIU- the Netherlands uses the following definition:

“Carrying out (or having others carry out) acts that provide apparently lawful origins for an increase in assets that has been kept from the legal authorities. The purpose of money laundering is to obscure the provenance of money.”

In other words, money laundering is providing an apparently legal origin for illegal money.

All-crimes approach
The Netherlands takes what is known as an “all-crimes approach” to money laundering. This means that all crimes that generate illegally acquired money can be a predicate offence for money laundering, and any related payment may thus be designated an unusual transaction in the light of the Wwft (BES). This may range from payments in relation to Child Sexual Abuse Images to payments in the context of subsidy fraud. The implementation of a European directive on combating money laundering by criminal law, which came into effect on 3 December 2020, standardizes this approach throughout Europe. This directive lists 22 criminal activities – from cybercrime to corruption, and from fraud to sexual exploitation – that all EU states must define as predicate offences for money laundering.