A recent panel held by the US Senate judiciary on modernising anti-money laundering (AML) legislation has found that traditional financial services, including trade-based ones remain the main typologies for moving illicit funds.

The panel also found that only a small percentage of illicit fund flows are facilitated by cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

Strengthening enforcement

The panel was held to discuss the bill entitled Modernising AML Laws to Combat Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing.

The proposed legislation is designed to give law enforcement agencies the tools they need to prevent, identify, and prosecute those involved in financial crime.

Traditional routes

While recognising that cryptocurrencies are used for illicit activities because they bypass national banks, government red tape and international borders, the Senate panel found that the US dollar is used far more in financial crimes, most of which are perpetrated through traditional financial services such as trade finance.

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that more than US$2 trillion annually is generated in proceeds from illicit activities and has flagged on several occasions that trade-based money laundering is extensively used to move illicit funds.